Taiwan News
2016.05.13
Ministry open to same-sex partner passport requests
If household registration offices issue documents to same-sex partners, the ministry said it could accept such applications
By Stacy Hsu

 
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday said that it is open to the idea of letting an individual’s same-sex partner submit a passport application on their behalf, provided that household registration offices are willing to issue a document proving their partnership.

Bureau of Consular Affairs Deputy Director-General Winston Chung (鐘文正) said the primary reason the ministry has not been able to accept passport applications filed by an applicant’s same-sex partner is because of the absence of proper documentation that verifies their relationship.

“Same-sex couples are only able to register their partnership in certain cities and counties, and the practice has yet to be legalized under the Civil Code. The lack of documentation proving such partnerships has caused administrative difficulties,” Chung said.

Under Article 12 of the Regulations for Application and Issuance of Passports (護照申請及核發辦法), only certified travel agencies or an the applicant’s relatives or peers at the same organization, school, company or group can apply for a passport on their behalf.

The article stipulates that those who do not belong to any of the categories are required to have a letter of authorization notarized.

“If household registration offices permit same-sex partnership registration and are willing to issue documents proving the relationship, we would then be able to accept such applications,” Chung said.

Otherwise the ministry would have to consult with the Ministry of the Interior and work out another plan, Chung added.

Nine of the nation’s 22 cities and counties allow same-sex couples to register their partnerships — Taipei, New Taipei City, Taoyuan, Taichung, Chiayi, Tainan and Kaohsiung, and Hsinchu and Changhua counties.

With some lawmakers calling for a reduction in the passport application fee to NT$1,000 from NT$1,300, Chung said the bureau is already losing NT$61 for every passport issued.

“Based on our calculations in 2013, it costs the ministry NT$1,361 to issue a passport, including both direct and indirect costs,” Chung said, adding that the passport application fee is far lower than those of the US, Japan and Canada, which charge from NT$4,325 to NT$6,700 per passport.

Chung said the direct costs are printing, personnel expenses and equipment maintenance, while the indirect costs include the expenses of the nation’s representative offices overseas, which offer emergency assistance to the nation’s passport holders.

The ministry cut the fee from NT$1,600 to NT$1,300 in 2012 due to lawmakers’ requests, Chung said, adding that another NT$300 reduction would cause the government to lose NT$600 million.



Source: TAIPEI TIMES
http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2016/05/13/2003646167
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