The Passport Saga

Let's be honest, if I told you I needed to get a passport, you KNEW it wasn't going to be easy peasy lemon squeezy.  You knew there would be a story and it would be stressed, depressed lemon zest, right?  Right!  So let's get down to a tale of stressed, depressed lemon zest.

My son, the only member of the family who has a passport, will be traveling to the Galapagos Island this summer on an educational trip.  (Yes you can be jealous...I know I am.  No parent chaperones allowed.)  His current passport will expire in January 2021.  His trip is this summer, BUT the date of expiration on his passport is less than 6 months AFTER he will return.  Confused?  I was too, but...

"Before your next trip, make sure your passport satisfies the six-month validity passport rule. As a general rule, passports should have at least six months of validity when traveling internationally. Most countries will not permit a traveler to enter their country unless the passport is set to expire at least six months after the final day of is not a requirement of the U.S. government. The six-month validity passport rule is a requirement of other countries accepting foreign travelers. The six- month passport validity rule is enforced because nations do not want to risk having travelers and tourists overstaying their passport validity. Six months is now the standard validity requirement for many countries. Most visitors to the United States are also now required to have six months’ validity of their passports."  (Quote taken from

So he needs a new passport and although he is not traveling until the summer, he needs to have his passport information entered into the travel company's system by the end of March so that THEY can reserve the group's entrance into the country.  Now the information on the OLD passport will PROBABLY be the same as the new, but the dates will be different so...

Meanwhile, my husband and I do not have passports.  (He has never had one; I had one before we were married which expired before 9/11.)  I'm thinking the kid is going out of the country; IF there is some emergency or issue and he needs us (praying that this doesn't happen and that my planning keeps the fates satisfied), we need to be able to get to him, WHEREVER he is.  So my Christmas present to everyone was to cover the cost of new passports, which I wanted to do in January of 2020.

Being the organized planner that I am, I do my research, starting with the US Dept of State Website to find what I need to do.  The family will have to apply in person, which is no big deal.  I start searching for the nearest acceptance facility.  There are plenty of them, but ALL are booked up for the month of January!  (How the heck can this be?  I don't know but I was unable to make an appointment.)  I had wanted to do this on a Saturday so that it wouldn't interfere with work or school, but...

Luckily, our county clerk visits our town library once or twice a month and can handle this for us.  Unfortunately, the hours they host are during school/work hours, so...There is no appointment schedule, you just walk in and you need to be there no later than a half an hour before they "close" (3:30).  I WAS going to pull my son out an hour early and have his miss his last class of the day, but then I realized that if I pulled him out 2 hours early, he would miss gym and could (in theory) be back for French.  Plus, if there was a wait, we would still be pretty much assured of getting everything processed. 

Now nowhere on the clerk's website does it say if they take passport photos.  I KNOW they did when we got our son's original passport, but that wasn't at our town library. (If you are curious, it was at the library in the town next to ours.)  I called the clerk, but got voicemail.  I left a message... (Do I even have to say I DIDN'T get a call back?)  So, to cover my bases, the three of us went to AAA Friday afternoon and got our photos taken. (And I had a backup plan to that as well...if we couldn't get there before they closed, we were heading over to CVS.  I already had a coupon for passport photos printed out.)

On Monday, January 13th, I make sure we have all our documents (as outlined on the website) and copies of such.  I have 3 birth certificates and copies of each (plus our wedding license just in case), 3 photo IDs and copies of each, 3 photos, 3 forms filled out (you just enter the information, the website does the filling in for you) but NOT signed (per instructions) and multiple checks.  (One check for each person for the passport and one check for each person for the "acceptance fee.")  We pick up the kid and head to the library...where there is nowhere to park!  Ugh!  I let the boys out to start the process and go in search of a space. 

Once I find one, I rush into the library and find the boys in a room with 3 women from the clerk's office. (Who were eating lunch.) Hubby is filling out more paperwork (because apparently "option" information on the website is NOT optional) for our son.  I'm signing a check for the passport and am informed that the "acceptance fee" at this location has to be cash.  (Apparently each location can do what they want.  Some will take credit cards.)  So we're scrambling for cash...we manage to come up with exact change for the first one.

While this is all going on, woman #2 says she can start processing another application while my son's is being worked on.  I turn over my information and...

...this is where everything falls apart.  My birth certificate is NOT acceptable.  My birth certificate (which is official and WAS acceptable prior to 9/11) does not have my parents’ names on it.  It's no good.  I have to go to the office of vital statistics and get a new one (to the tune of $25).  They say I can probably do it on line, but have no idea how long this process takes.  The clerk will be back my town library in 2 weeks.  (Of course, I don't know if I will have the ability to work from home that day and who knows about weather in January or even February!)

I am trying to keep my KNOW I failed miserably right?  I was so shaken/upset that I signed on the wrong line of my son's application (underage applicants must have both parents present and both must sign).  UGH!

I do manage to write checks for my son's and husband's passports and we pool our resources to have the cash for the acceptance fee for both of them.  We leave, take my son back to school (he didn't even miss the full gym period!) and once home I go on line and find the form to get a new birth certificate.  I fill it out and THANKFULLY the office is just two towns over from me.  With my husband for moral support, we head out with cash for the new one AND a check for a passport AND cash for the acceptance fee.  The office of vital statistics is open till 4.  The clerk is at the library till 3:30. It’s just about 2 PM.

Distance-wise it's not far; less than 3 miles.  HOWEVER, the main thoroughfare that connects us means going through major construction.  Even in the middle of the day when there is relatively little traffic, the trek takes 15+ minutes as I navigate closed lanes, construction equipment in the middle of the road and more.  (In hindsight I should have taken back roads.)  I find the building (I think...there is no number on it) and find a place to park (a couple of blocks back) and we rush in.

I explain to the (very nice) lady behind the counter what my problem is and she takes my "bad" birth certificate, reviews my ID, takes my $25 and goes to get me a new birth certificate.  (She didn't ask to see my wedding license, which the website said I would need, but who's complaining.)  As we wait, I can hear a copy machine continually jamming.  (We all know that annoying beep, beep, beep sound they make, right?)  I'm fearing that we won't be able to get this taken care of, but after 10 or so minutes she was back with a certified copy of my "new" birth certificate.

We rush back to the car, fight the construction, make it back to our town, park in a lot not too far away instead of lobbying for a spot by the library (there was panic when I didn't know if I had a quarter for the meter and my husband is trying to download the app to pay for it that way...I managed to find a quarter before he could download) and ran back upstairs to the room where the clerks were seated. (Lunch now finished and no one else in need of their services.)

I hand over my paperwork, my ID, my copy of my ID, my photo and my "new" birth certificate.  I write one more check and turn over more cash for the acceptance fee.  I sign the paperwork and it all goes into their files.  All of this done before the school across the street lets out for the day.

Is the tale done?  I HOPE so.  Now we have to wait for our passports and to have our birth certificates returned (under separate cover).  With the postal service we have...well, I'm going to think about that now...I'm just going to say a few prayers...


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Not Guilty

Please Don't Ask Me...

Lowe's LIES