Another failed effort to grow my passport


With my rather increased international travel schedule (10+ countries so far this year) my passport has filled up quickly. I’m down to only one fully blank page now and only about 10 total blank squares. But that shouldn’t be too much of a problem to resolve since getting extra pages is a simple process. At least that’s what folks would have you believe. I’m now on my 4th different US embassy and have still not managed to grow my passport, with the latest setback coming this morning.

It used to be that having pages added while in the USA cost money while doing it at an embassy abroad was free. The fees no longer exist for doing it in the USA but it still requires that the passport be mailed off the Philly, processed and mailed back. And if you want it handled quickly there is an expedite fee involved. Otherwise there is the potential to be without passport for weeks rather than just a week with the expedited service. Getting it done at an embassy makes a ton of sense since it usually is completed in about 30 minutes and has always been free.

And so I’ve tried to get additional pages at the embassy. How hard could it be? Fill out the form from the State Department website and just head over to the embassy first thing in the morning to get it done. Sadly, it just hasn’t worked out that way for me. A number of my international trips this year have been over weekends so those were immediately disqualified from contention, but I’ve had plenty of eligible trips that have simply ended in disappointment.

First was the trip to Panama back in March. I contacted the embassy in advance, got all the details and paperwork and then realized that I had no chance. They require a full day for processing according to their email and I only had about 3 hours on Monday morning to deal with it. I suppose I could have just shown up and asked but it didn’t seem likely so I didn’t bother. Plus, we were busy seeing Casco Viejo that morning anyways.

Next up I tried for Bermuda. I had plenty of time on the island – two full weekdays. And still no love. Their policy is even worse than that of Panama, with all requests taking a full week to process. Apparently they mail them back to the USA for processing rather than doing it locally. Plus, they don’t have any parking at the consulate there and it isn’t exactly in the middle of town. So that one was out, too.

I had a glimmer of hope for this visit to Copenhagen. The consular services office would be open one of the days I was here and there was
no reason I could think of why they wouldn’t be able to quickly add the pages for me this morning. Well, they managed to invent one. I was
in the door at 9am, right when it opened for citizen services. I presented my paperwork and passport and was told that it would be
ready on Monday. Since I’ll be on a kayak in a fjord on Monday that wasn’t going to work so well. I asked for immediate processing
instead. The guy wandered off for about 5 minutes and came back with an offer for maybe having it done at 3pm today. Only maybe and no
promises at all. Since we’re headed to Helsingor now and won’t be back until late this afternoon that just won’t work. I explained my
situation again and pretty much begged him to process it immediately as I know can be done. I received a very polite “no” in return. And so
it was that I finished the visit to the embassy in 10 minutes, just like everyone says it takes, but I managed to do so without my extra
pages.

We won’t be near the embassy in Oslo while it is open so that is out as an option. I might have to actually give in and mail my passport
off to be processed. I hate the idea of not having it available just in case a great fare pops up and I definitely need it back by mid-August with more international travel planned. But thus far the embassies haven’t been able to help me so I may have to give in on this one.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

3 Comments

  1. I sense your frustration. I had to apply for a passport renewal in London and they had to send everything back to the US. Of course, it arrived 2 days after I needed it to take a trip…and they had taken 4 weeks. [Postponed the trip]
    (I had originally submitted the expedite fee, and they had returned the payment form saying that they don't do that here…and I had to resubmit the payment form with the lower amount.) Next time, I am going to do the expedited service if I have long enough time in the US to handle it. Good luck with getting those extra pages. PS – Thanks for all the expert responses on CO forum on Flyer Talk. I'm a huge CO fan.

  2. I’ve done this a lot over the years, first in Taipei (10 minute process), most recently in Hong Kong the end of 2009. Had to make a reservation online, then was there at the appointed time and waited about 20 minutes for them to add two sets of pages, for free.

    From my 7 or 8 times in Taipei and now one time experience in Hong Kong, I always thought adding pages was one of the simplest, easiest things to do at an overseas embassy (or American Institute in Taiwan in the case of Taipei)

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