After I got back from New Zealand, I decided to go through the process of renewing my passport. I got my first passport when I was 20, right before I went on a university-sponsored trip to France for spring break (best way to get college credit ever). Since then, I have managed tot fill my 24-page passport book, with the exception of one page*. Typically, you need more than one blank page to travel; therefore, as my passport was due to expire in February, I went ahead and took care of it early.
The paperwork and process isn’t too bad, but I had a few minor things that were stressful (but they are total first-world-problems, I know):
- I am currently living abroad, so my passport is my only form of ID. Oh, and my passport number is tied to my Australian visa. There is no separate residence permit as I had in the Netherlands–they just check your passport at immigration.
- Apparently U.S. passport photos are a different size from Australian passport photos, so I had to find one of the few places where I live that could do the photos. Fortunately, the State Department website is nice enough to give you a full list.
- As I live in Queensland, the office that runs passport services is in Sydney. Therefore, I had to mail off my passport. Again, totally normal procedure in the U.S. and elsewhere, but return to point #1.
- I had to pay via money order from the Australian Post, which was mildly annoying. On the plus side, the State Department’s exchange rate hasn’t kept up with the tanking Australian dollar, so it was slightly cheaper for me to renew it when I did (which probably paid for the money order).
Fortunately, everything was fine (or as the Aussies say, “no dramas”). It took about 3 weeks, and I luckily don’t live in a “papers-please” environment. The only time I needed my ID was…wait for it…to pick up my passport at the post office today. Actual conversation:
I come up tot he counter, hand over card notifying me that I had a package to pick up.
Australian Post guy: Just here to pick up a package? Do you have any ID?
Me: Um, actually, that is what is IN the package.
Luckily, they took other forms of ID, and I went on my merry way. Now I have the re-designed passport from the Bush years, which I do find a little too over-the-top-America-is-awesome for my taste. I mean, I love the U.S. like any American, but we don’t need to shove a bald eagle in the face of every border agent whenever we go to somewhere that isn’t the U.S. Regardless, I am glad to have my ID again, and I am free to move about the country (and beyond).
*Technically there were 3 other blank pages behind this final “visas” page. Not sure if it was meant for actual visas or something else, but it wasn’t a normal stamp page as pictured here.