Got my passport renewed
So I’m heading to Germany in May, and my passport was set to expire in June. First, I’m a little freaked out by this. This was my third passport. The first I got as a minor, so it expired after five years (when I was 20). If you consider that the next two passports lasted for ten years, I’m looking back on a lot of years. When this one expires I’ll be in my 50s. The horror.
Anyway, knowing that most countries won’t even let you in if your passport is within six months of expiration, I picked up the renewal application about six months ago. After looking at it on our counter for five months, Jennifer got a little bent and told me to get on it. By this time, I was mildly panicked. I’d heard the horror stories of processing delays. When it went in the mail, I actually considered paying the ridiculous extra fee for expedited processing. I didn’t, and my am I glad. I think the total time from dropping the old one in the mail to getting the new passport was maybe 18 or 19 days. Incredible. This is my federal government? Kudos to those people working in the New Hampshire issuing office for overlooking the fact that they work for a bureaucracy and actually hammering stuff out.
The best part about this was that for the first time, I didn’t have to pay something like $10 for a couple of cheap snapshots to send with it. I put our digital camera on a tripod, took a couple of headshots, uploaded them to Flickr, and sent them to Target for printing. 40 cents and a few minutes with the paper cutter gave me two nearly identical photos to send in with the application. I had read in several places (here, here, and here) about the need to be careful and observe all the rules, blah, blah, blah. Really, the issuing agency just scans one of the pics and puts a low res digital version in the passport, so I doubt they’re sitting there checking the exposure or testing the paper and ink you used. Common sense rules here, I think. If some surly employee at Kinko’s with a much-abused Polaroid can take pictures that fit the bill, can it really be that complicated? What a racket, this “passport photo” business.