Ministry of Foreign Affairs launches Online Consular Service platform

In a special event held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs attended by Prime Minister Edi Rama, Cabinet ministers and diplomatic corps accredited in Tirana was inaugurated the beginning of the implementation of the Online Consular Service (SHKO) platform. This platform fulfills the priority of the Albanian Government to increase transparency and modernization of consular and other public administration services.

Online Consular Service not only increases and has modernized public access to information, expands the range of services, improves quality, facilitates procedures, but it also reduces time and abuses and increases transparency aa well. The project has radically reformed consular service for the Albanians around the world, by establishing 36 special services, according to the best and most modern European practices from which 23 services can be conducted entirely online, whereas 13 other services require once only citizen's presence at the Diplomatic and Consular missions.

The digitization of consular services enables thorough monitoring of internal administrative process at all levels by ensuring speed, quality and accountability. Prior to the reform, there were about one thousand different formats used on consular posts that differed from the language used and the consul signature, to the seals, writing and the content of the text. Now, through Online Consular Services have been developed and standardized over 100 forms and documents, with specifications and codifications of their electronic registration.

In his address Prime Minister Rama focused on the importance of providing online services to citizens, and the radical transformation in this regard, where only three years ago, only three such services were offered in comparison to a thousand services offered today online. Highlighting the importance of this service in the process of registration of Albanian citizens abroad and in offering the possibility for them to vote, Prime Minister Rama underscored: “I wish to emphasize that the top challenge for us is to ensure the participation of all citizens residing abroad in the most important process i.e. the elections. To this end we need to ensure that all Albanians abroad be registered. We are the only country in Europe that has not registered its citizens. We don’t know how much they are, where they live or what needs they may have. Unless we provide this register, it is impossible to include all Albanians in the voting process. The process has already started. This census that has begun and which will extend to all territories where Albanians live through online applications will give us the opportunity sooner or later to be able to include Albanians living abroad in the democratic process by giving them the opportunity to vote from where they live and not be forced to come to Albania to vote. It is understood that this process will take its time”.

Minister Bushati focused on the innovations of the consular reform voicing that: “For the first time since 1998, we have completely revised fees for consular services. Some services are offered free of charge and others on a reduced rate. We have halved the fee for double certificate issue and have decreased by 25% legalization fees. On the other hand, we have increased the range of consular services in countries with greater presence of Albanians, enabling for the first time issuance of certificates of civil registry in Italy”.

Focusing on expansion of consular services online and in other countries, Minister Bushati stated: "EU member countries such as Belgium, Germany and Spain withdrew their reserves for apostille seal.  This indicates more convenience and less cost to citizens. We look forward that Greece, the only country in the EU that has not joined this practice, should follow the example of other countries, as a clear signal of commitment to international law and widely-accepted standards in this field”.

Minister of Innovation and Public Administration Milena Harito praised as extremely important the platform of Online Consular Services in reforming and increasing the range of services provided by public administrations to citizens.

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