June 17, 2011

I Nearly Lost My Mind Renewing A Passport

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US Passport Image by Damian613 on FlickrImage Credit Damian613

I’m a follow the rules kind of gal. You tell me to bring 2 copies, I bring 2 copies. Directions say to write in blue ink, I don’t ask about shade of blue because I know they’re talking about the standard b-l-u-e, blue kind of ink. And because of the internet, my ability to follow the rules and be prepared when it comes to dealing with federal agencies has been well-honed.

I’m thinking, this passport renewal will be a breeze! Since we’re going to Italy next spring I wanted to make sure BabyGirl’s passport would be valid at least 6-months after our departure. That’s what the rules say, so I’m just following them. I figured that since I got her passport I’d be fully prepared to do the renewal.

First, let’s clear this up. Renewal is a misnomer. For kids it’s actually more like getting a newly issued passport. Kid’s passports aren’t really renewed as much as they are issued. With a few clickity, click, click, clicks I’m at the US Department of State website downloading and filling in the application. Print! Now instructions. Need to make sure I have the right size photo and correct number. Do I bring the old passport or not? Birth certificate? Watercolor from kindergarten? Let’s just see.

I gather up the current, still valid, US Passport. Fill out the form which I downloaded from the official site. Download and fill out the extra form to provide CycleGuy’s consent since he won’t be there in person. Get that notarized. Have photo taken. Head to passport agency at the county courthouse with BabyGirl in tow.

First stop was at the metal detectors. It’s like TSA except with real police officers and real guns. No joking! I beep and merit being hand-wanded. Something in my chestal area (yes, my chestal area as stated by Officer Hand Wand). He just keeps waving said hand wand over my chestal area as it beeps and beeps and beeps. A few more waves and I could have busted out my own flash mob to Friday!

With chestal area secured, I’m able to proceed to pick up my belongings and go to the passport office with BabyGirl. This office also issues marriage licenses so there were quite a few young couples all giddy and filled with love. I sign in and wait my turn. OK, not really my turn because BabyGirl put her name down. It’s her passport, she said. Hard to argue with that.

We’re called and we hand over our documents only to be told ours are outdated. Evidently in the several weeks between when I printed out the documents and when I got my busy self there the US Government updated the forms. For an uber type-A this is not good. I’m a print out the form typewritten kinda gal. I’m not diggin’ the write-it-in-even-though-you-have-nice-handwriting-you-still-think-it-looks-sloppy process. But I do.

I turn in the new form, the notarized authorization from CycleGuy and the current passport. I hear noises. Thinking noises coming from the passport rep lady. I filled out the form correctly. Notarized form is in order. But then come the questions.

Do I have a birth certificate for BabyGirl? Uh, not on me. The instruction I had printed out didn’t say anything about bringing one. Besides, I have a valid US Passport for her right here. That should count for something since I provided an original birth certificate for that one. Out of courtesy she’ll submit the application without the birth certificate but it might be rejected or I’ll get a request for additional information. Sure, whatever. Let’s move this show along!

Next question was do I have a copy of CycleGuy’s driver’s license? Uh, no. It’s not in the instructions for the form. Oh, right, it’s good to have that because he’s not there in person. Right. Because if he was I wouldn’t need the darn form! I get that the US Government is trying to protect children from the crazy antics of a non-custodial parent but the rules didn’t say to bring it. So I didn’t!

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never taken a mind reading class. Possibly I should consider that next time I find some free time! What do you think? And if I’d have taken a mind reading class I wouldn’t have had to ask you what you thought!

I’m feeling good that she’s going to take my paperwork and soon take my money and I’ll be on my way. Until she tells me they don’t take credit cards any more. But it’s on the website! Oh, right. I’m supposed to know the rule changed. (Note: find mind reading class ASAP!) And they don’t take cash, despite the fact that she sent me out to the ATM for which I paid $2.50 to withdraw funds to pay for this new passport. Checks only!

Ugh! Leave and return. And now I’m back with my check book. I write the check. It’s picture time. I hand over the photos. She eyes them a few minutes and hands one back to me. They only need one now. ONE? But, but, but, the website says 2!!!!

I pay, receipt in hand, empty pink leather passport cover held by BabyGirl. I leave the now submitted US Passport materials in the hands of the rep who will submit them despite my ‘potential lack of proper documentation’. Yah, sure, whatevs! I’m in no rush, so if they need this stuff I can get it to them.

But I’m still unsure why I’d need BabyGirl’s original birth certificate. She has a US Passport. I provided a birth certificate to get this official passport we now have. Oh, right, they need proof of US citizenship. Uh, that would be this here US Passport I’m offering. But I am polite and keep all sarcasm to myself.

I’ve checked the online status page and the passport is ‘currently in process’. Me, well, I think I need a few hours of therapy to sort out this experience. While the lady was really nice and very pleasant, I left the office shaking my head.

How can I have followed all the directions yet somehow missed that it’s all actually wrong?

UPDATE: Day after I wrote this, guess what showed up in the mail? Yes, you’re exactly right! BabyGirl’s passport arrived in record time. 12 business day including mailing time! Guess all my paperwork was done right. And I’m so happy I didn’t pay extra for expedited processing.

Sara

{ 4 comments }

patti June 17, 2011 at 8:40 am

lol…I just had the pleasure of dealing with the Social Security Administration a couple of weeks ago. The website was absolutely no help with my particular situation, so I called the 800 #, waited for about 30 minutes to speak to a rep, then got the rudest person I’ve ever had the pleasure of dealing with…Hubert/Herbert…what a guy…he repeated exactly what I’d read on the website which didn’t pertain to my situation. When I explained that to him AGAIN, he kept saying that wasn’t his job. That if I didn’t have all of the documentation, there was nothing anyone could do (my mom misspelled my first name on my social security card, it didn’t match my birth certificate and the BMV wouldn’t renew my license until they matched). So I finally took everything in to the local SSA office and the sweetest lady helped me resolve the issue…sheesh…sometimes I think government employees forget that they actually work for us~

Sara June 18, 2011 at 9:14 pm

Patti,

I’m so glad you found someone helpful at your local office. I remember going through the name change info when I got married and it was a lady in my local office that was so wonderful and helpful that made up for the poor phone customer service.

Sara

Dana C June 17, 2011 at 10:04 am

Hi Sara –

Reading your experience makes me want to reach for a glass of vino! Whew! I have to get my boys passports for next year and haven’t done it yet. I’ll be more prepared now thanks to your update.

All the best to you and your family!

Sara June 18, 2011 at 9:16 pm

Hi Dana!

Anything you want to know about passports for kids, just ask! Oddly enough, my daughter’s passport arrived in the mail today. After all that hoopla, the new passport arrived in less than 3 weeks.

Sara

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