Der Amerikanische Urlauber

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

J'ai mon nouveau passeport!

Came pretty quickly too... Posted by Hello

I've never seen a branch of the US Government work so quickly, but today, exactly four days from having submitted my application to the US State Department, I got my new passport in the mail.

I go out to the mailbox this afternoon and pull out this long white envelope emblazoned in the corner with "Official US Government Mail" I, being oh so quick, immediately think "Oh my God, what did I do??" It never even dawned on me until I opened the envelope that it would be my passport.

I also got back my old one, from 1994, which I had to submit for processing purposes. They took good care of it, I must say, though it now has two punched holes in the front cover and on the signature page there's a big red stamp that says "CANCELLED: NEW APPLICATION" If I showed up to the airport and presented it, with a picture of myself from 1994 when I was 7 years old, I somehow don't think they would have let me pass by... at least for the sake of national security I would hope not. You never know...

The State Department has changed the passport quite a bit in the 10 years time between my fist and this one. Now they digitally impose your picture onto the inside cover, instead of before when they used to laminate it on. They also now have all these new holographic things on the inside cover, like what they put on all the new money.

And the biggest change is language. The old US passports used to come in English with French, because French is la langue diplomatique. But now, to keep up with the times, there's a third language. Bet you can't guess what it is!

Si, EspaƱol.

In actual news, it seems that Americans and everyone in the Western Hemisphere who wishes to travel here will need a passport soon, because the US government has set a new measure where by 2008 everyone entering the country must present a current passport, including to our border with Canada.

This only applies for re-entry to the United States, because Immigration doesn't stamp it when you depart, only for arrivals. It used to be acceptable to travel to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, etc. with a birth certificate and photo ID, including an old passport.

I like the idea, because if you're going to spend billions to ramp up security measures, yet allow entry to the country from other Western Hemisphere countries to be as easy as showing a birth certificate and driver's license, it seems like a waste. Anyone who plans to travel abroad should make the investment and get a passport, I think. Even if now they DID raise the price to $97... those thieves! But, on the bright side, it's good for 10 years. So I get to present this slightly cockeyed photo of myself to Immigration Officials worldwide until April 1, 2015... I mean I'm generally pleased enough with the picture, but it figures of the two they put in the one where I'm looking a little sideways... I'm actually beginning to think the people at the passport offices must get their kicks looking at the assortment of passport photos people send in with their applications.


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