Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Let the Games Begin!

I need to renew my passport. I live in a foreign country. That doesn't sound too hard, right?

I tried to fill out a passport application (form DS-11) online. I was stopped, however, by the following warning:
"You may only submit this form if you have never been issued a U.S. passport... If the above statement does not apply to you, you may be eligible to apply for a U.S. passport by mail. See 'How to Renew Your Passport.' "
I clicked on the 'How to Renew Your Passport' link, which took me to the handy DS-82 form, which is a "renew by mail" application. I was stopped, however, by the following warning:
"U.S. citizens residing abroad should renew their passports at the nearest U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate."
This pops up a list of U.S. Embassies listed by country. The nearest U.S. Embassy in South Africa is in Pretoria, which happens to be where I live. The problem is, they will not only not help you, they will not even let you in the front door. For all U.S. citizen services, you must go to the U.S. Consulate in Johannesburg (this is not a big deal, but you will only learn this by experience, not from the U.S. Department of State's handy website).

I went to the U.S. Consulate in Johannesburg's website to make an appointment (which you have to do, as they only help Americans between 1 and 4 p.m.). When you book your appointment online you have to select the reason for your appointment. I could select "Renew passport for minor" or "Renew passport for some over 18 whose last passport was issued while a minor", or even "Replace lost or damaged passport," but there was NO button to select for "I am just an adult who lives abroad and wants to renew my passport."

If there is a magic bureaucracy fairy, I could use some help right about now.


Carrie said...

Sadly, no fairy. Amazing how hard it is to do the whole U.S. Embassy thing if you're an American citizen, isn't it?? Unless you're in Lesotho - then it's amazingly easy to get inside. If you only needed pages added to your passport, I would tell you it's worth the drive! ;-) Happy New Year (soon)!

jonna said...

A good reminder to check how much longer all of our passports are valid before we head overseas...