NEWS

Clock ticking for new passports

More personnel are to be put on duty at police stations which accept applications for new passports, the Public Order Ministry said yesterday, as more than 85 percent of Greeks have yet to swap their old passports even though the deadline runs out at the end of this year. Officials are expecting a sharp increase in the number of applications for new passports in September as only 355,000 of the new European Union-approved travel documents have been issued since the beginning of the year. The old passports will not be valid from the beginning of next year. Some 4 million Greeks have passports, meaning that there could be a serious logjam as people try to submit applications at the last minute. There are currently 98 police stations across Greece that can accept applications which are then processed at the central passport office, operated by the Greek Police (ELAS) in Kaisariani, eastern Athens. Due to the rising demand for new passports, the ministry said that it would also open three new facilities to accept applications: at police stations in Zografou, Palaio Faliron and Galatsi. All the application centers are open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekends. If there is a huge rush of applications in September, authorities are considering extending the opening hours to midnight, with the possibility of the centers staying open all day if necessary. Meanwhile, Greece and Cyprus are discussing the possibility that new Cypriot passports could also be issued at the center in Kaisariani, sources told Kathimerini. The head of the Cypriot police is expected in Athens on August 20 to inspect the high-tech facilities.