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Talks held with Britain over Bermuda passport problems

The Bermuda passport (File photograph)

Problems with visa-free entry to the United States for Bermuda passport-holders were discussed during the visit of a senior British official to Bermuda.

The Royal Gazette understands that Paul Candler, the director of the British Overseas Territories, discussed the issue last week.

Mr Candler was also expected to discuss a dispute between Britain and Bermuda over cannabis legalisation laws on which the Governor has reserved assent.

On passports, it is understood that work is under way to delve into the detail of the changes required for Bermuda passports and identify the most appropriate and effective solution.

The talks come after a Bermuda government spokeswoman said the British Government has said it is committed to addressing issues related to Bermudian passports.

The spokeswoman said that the Bermuda Government had recently received correspondence from Amanda Milling, Britain’s Minister for Overseas Territories.

She said: “The minister took the opportunity to reiterate the British Government’s commitment to find a solution to the issue of the delayed return of the BMU code to Bermuda passports and also the well-publicised delays in the processing of new passports by the UK’s Passport Office.”

In response to questions from The Royal Gazette, a FCDO spokesman confirmed: “The UK has written to the Premier of Bermuda to set out the next phase of returning the BMU code to Bermuda passports.

“We know that the return of the BMU passport code is a priority for Bermuda, and we continue to work to resolve this matter as quickly as possible.”

Bermudian passport holders have faced a series of challenges since Britain took over the printing of passports for the Overseas Territories.

The new-style Government of Bermuda passports were coded with the British GBR rather than the traditional Bermudian BMU.

The change has caused headaches for travellers who seek to return to the island through the United States.

While Bermudians do not require visas to enter the US, and that agreement still stands, those who hold Bermuda passports printed after 2016 have been subject to questions and delays when they attempt to check in for flights in jurisdictions unfamiliar with the arrangement.

Successive ministers and premiers have highlighted the problem.

More recently, Britain has said that those who apply for passports or passport renewals can expect longer wait times because of a surge in demand caused by the end of travel restrictions.

A spokesman for the Department of Immigration said in May that the British Government confirmed that those who are attempting to obtain Bermuda Overseas Territories Citizen passports could expect delays of up to 11 weeks because the volume of applications had quadrupled.

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Published May 28, 2022 at 7:56 am (Updated May 28, 2022 at 7:48 am)

Talks held with Britain over Bermuda passport problems

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