Zimbabweans based in South Africa, United Kingdom, USA and two other countries will now be able to physically apply for passports in their respective host countries by March this year, Registrar-General Henry Machiri has said.

Speaking to state media weekend, Machiri said the first foreign passport office will be set up in Johannesburg and Cape Town, both in South Africa.

South Africa is home to the largest Zimbabwe diaspora population, estimated to be just under a million.

“Renovations at the embassy’s offices in South Africa are complete and during the first quarter of this year, we are going to open passport centres at our embassies in Johannesburg and Cape Town,” Machiri said.

“South Africa is one of the countries with the largest population of Zimbabweans. Therefore, it is one of the countries that we are starting with.

“This year, we are planning on setting up passport centres in five countries and so far, we have South Africa, London in the UK and the US. We have not yet figured out where the other two centres will be located.

“We are starting with countries that have the highest number of Zimbabweans, while consultations will continue on the next two stations.”

Machiri said application fees shall remain the same as those charged if one is applying in Zimbabwe.

He also said applicants’ details outside of Zimbabwe will now be sent through the respective offices set up abroad.

A passport remains one of the most sought-after document in economically distressed Zimbabwe as hard-pressed locals look outside for better employment opportunities.

Government has heightened the issuance of the document with hefty fees paid turning to become one of the country’s cash cows.

Government recently hiked application fees to US$150 and US$250 for ordinary and emergency passports, respectively.