Monday, November 05, 2007

Mogan's Canadian Passport - The Saga Continues

All fun and silliness aside, the week leading up to my party weekend was seriously impacted by the renewal process for my passport.

Originally I was surprised by the complexity of the renewal process itself. Now I'm dismayed! It all started two weeks ago when I got a call from my doctor's office saying the witness papers (part of the 3 pages of forms) were signed and could be picked up. I thought to myself that it had taken a lot longer than I expected. Indeed, upon checking the calender I suddenly realized I had two-and-a-half weeks left before my scheduled trip to Malaysia but the embassy told me to expect the process to take three weeks.

I scrambled! I made calls to almost everyone involved in the meeting (people in the U.S., Europe, and Asia) and found that the authorities and the airlines (particularly the airlines) strictly enforced the "minimum 6-month validity" on passports for travellers. There was no choice so Thursday I ran off to the doctor's, picked up the papers, then went to Den Haag (The Hague) and delivered the forms, my ID, and my old passport to the embassy.

The embassy was closed Friday and Monday (very unusual). Regardless of how things worked out for Malaysia I still needed a temporary passport to go to Denmark. So I went on Tuesday back to the Hague to have them do the temp. passport process they couldn't do the previous Thursday.

When I arrived I was shocked! My passport was on the way! They had just received communication from Canada saying that my new passport was made and already with the courier. They advised I should forget the (expensive) temporary document and just return Wednesday for the normal one. So I did.

But wouldn't you know, Wednesday the courier didn't show! I left Amsterdam on the train before their delivery was expected. And arrived at the Hague in time for them to verify that they didn't have it.

So they made me a temporary one. No problems... I would just head off to Denmark and the normal passport would be waiting upon my return.

I looked through the shiny new temporary passport and was impressed. It looked quite different from my old one. Indeed, different enough that it was hours later, once I was home and the embassy was closed again, before I noticed that my name was spelled wrong. SPELLED WRONG!

The next morning I called the embassy as soon as they were open. I takes about 3-3.5 hours to get to the Hague and back. I had 4 hours before I was scheduled to be at the airport to fly to Denmark. Surely no one would let me travel with a misspelled passport! So I assumed the embassy was be keen to reprint my temporary... a process that takes 20 minutes.

But they couldn't. They don't have control over the information that the computer prints. That comes from a central database in Canada. And that central database is wrong. After seven separate steps to check and verify all the information in my application, this mistake made it "into the computer".

So Thursday afternoon I went to the airport and crossed my fingers. Clearly (from the previous post) I made it to Copenhagen. But returning from CPH to AMS there there a moment it looked like I wouldn't.

The ticket attendant checking my luggage said," Oh, a temporary passport." *pause to read* "Do you have another ticket onwards to Canada? I only show your flight to Amsterdam in the computer?"

Phew! I was able to quickly produce my Dutch Residence Permit and she had failed to notice that the names didn't match.

So later this week I hope to return to the Hague for my new passport. Then Saturday I'll get on a plane for Malaysia. Or, perhaps I won't. Stay tuned to find out.


quilly said...

Thank you, Morgan. You told us everything about your trip but what we wanted to hear. Did she care that your hair wasn't cut?

I Dive At Night said...

Hair? Hair? Let's see... nope, I don't think the topic came up. I'm not sure, there's a lot of the weekend that's kinda blurry.

Charline said...

So you travelled to Denmark under an assumed name! Which one did they flub? Morgan or D'Antonio? Had my name misspelled on my passport a few years ago. The reasoning? "Oh we thought you'd made a mistake on your application!" And it took only 5 weeks to get it corrected!

I Dive At Night said...

Check the title... "Mogan's Canadian Passport."

Charline said...

Yeah, I caught it after I'd posted my message...

Becky said...

Hey, that just makes it sound like you come from Chicago.

Minka said...

The name spelled wrong is teh icing on the cake isn't it?!

i think it takes shorter to apply for Icelandic nationality than getting a canadian passport, and that says a lot :)

*crosses fingers ion hope of hearing back from the immigration office any month now*

I Dive At Night said...

My new name makes it sound like I'm from Chi-town? Oh that's even worse! Becky that didn't help.

Minka, the worst part of any government dealings is standing in line. Iceland? Seriously, how long could any such line possibly be?