The Gambia Immigration Department is the creation of an act of parliament on 22nd August, 1990. In retrospect however, the department is an offshoot of The Gambia Police Force (GPF). Like other civil service department of today, this parent body was established in 1855 as the first security service institution of The Gambia. Accordingly, the first immigration services of modern Gambia were provided by GPF. In addition to its immigration unit, GPF was also made up of other security services like the Special Branch and the Field Force which also went through transformation.
An act was formulated at independence in 1965 to better operationalize immigration services which led to the creation of the portfolio of principal immigration Officer (PIO) as head of immigration unit under GPF. Malick Ndir became the first PIO and he served from 1967 to 1980. By 1980, the unit evolved into a division to meet the demand of 60% increase in entry points. Our predecessors were versatile, they performed general duties cum immigration functions. At some point police officers were assigned immigration duties for two years with choice of getting back on general duties.
On 25th February, 1985, the first ever National Identity Card scheme was lunched subsequent to the parliamentary amendment of the Nationality and Citizenship Act cap.82. Following The Gambia's signing of the ECOWAS protocol, ECOWAS travel documents were issued to Gambia in 1987. In 1990, the handwritten/manual passport issued by the Republic of the Gambia was replace by the Machine Readable Passport (MRP) as a counter forgery measure due to the vulnerability of the former. In the same year, 12 officers were sent for training at the Nigerian Immigration Academy in Kano.
In early 1992, a commandant of the Nigeria Immigration Institute, DC Duru, was invited to provide training for Gambian immigration officers in preparation for the establishment of an independent department of immigration. Though the need for stand -alone security institutions became apparent after the abortive coup detat of 1981. It was not until 1992 when 104 police officers were designated as permanent immigration officers and general duties (and main police functions) were reserved for GPF.