Abu Dhabi: Bangladeshi residents are requested to convert their handwritten passports to Machine Readable Passports (MRPs) prior to November 24, which is a realistic deadline to meet, a top Bangladeshi diplomat told Gulf News.

With an estimated 150,000 to 200,000 Bangladeshis yet to update their passports, Mohammad Imran, the Bangladeshi Ambassador to the UAE, said that the embassy has gone the extra mile to ensure residents meet the deadline.

“We have spoken to several construction companies to ensure they communicate this with our Bangladeshi labourers and have sent letters to some local authorities to raise awareness. We have also reached out to the Chamber of Commerce to expand our outreach as much as possible.

“I am optimistic that our 700,000 to 800,000 residents will be able to complete this process prior to November 24, which is a deadline that has been set by The International Civil Aviation Organisation [ICAO],” he said.

When asked about the embassy’s outreach plans to working-class residents who are not quite tech-savvy, Imran said that around 5-800 residents visit the embassy premises on a daily basis for different purposes.

A document, which he referred to as an ‘information leaflet’, is handed out to whoever pays the embassy a visit, detailing the passport conversion deadline as well as the process one has to go through to obtain an MRP, he added.

“We [also] ask these visitors to spread the word to their fellow nationals as word of mouth is a key tool of communication,” he said.

Imran said that the passport conversion process itself is simple and takes six to eight weeks. “Residents must physically come to the embassy to give in their old, handwritten passports and fill in a form. After six to eight weeks, the embassy contacts them to receive their MRP,” he said.

Depending on the salary of the individual, the fees for updating the passport can range between Dh125-Dh405, he added.

— Maisoon Mubarak is a trainee at Gulf News

(With inputs from Nada Al Taher, Staff Reporter)