The first official step on my journey to help my children become global citizens was obtaining passports. I am sure that if you need to get one only for yourself then the process is simple. Though, I know that there are myriad things that can go wrong with any given passport application, imagine multiplying that by 8 and the rejection possibilities seem endless. I have successfully gone through the process before, so it’s not like I was wholly ignorant, but having successfully done this in the past for myself and my then 4 year old daughter colored my view of the situation and I honestly thought it would be a breeze. Hahahahahaha.
Some things I learned from this process.
1. The people at your local post office or passport center that are trained to authorize and send in passport applications, “should not be trusted to know what they are doing, you should question everything.” This is a quote from a man at the San Diego Regional Passport office. The first application rejection happened because the representative did not use his official (and required) stamp. We lost 2 weeks of time with that one and even the Passport office admitted there is nothing we could have done to change it. The second rejection was for improperly taken passport photos (not the twins, but the twins’ passport photos are a whole other story). The photos were overexposed, and I mentioned this to the man at the post office (who took them) but he brushed me off saying they were fine. Then came six rejections in the mail. This lost us another 2-3 weeks because it was over the Christmas/New Year holidays.
2. The people at the Regional Passport offices are not in agreement about procedure. Another rejection came when my 16 year old daughter (with official state ID) didn’t have a parent sign for her on her application. A passport office back east said (and the government website agreed) that 16 and 17 year olds didn’t need that and all was fine as long as she possessed state ID, but after the first two rejections her passport ended up in San Diego and they said anyone under 18 needed a parent signature, no exceptions. So a new application was in order. The gentleman from the SD office and I looked at the directions on the website together, after which he said that both the website and the other office were wrong.
3. There doesn’t need to be a reason your application is rejected. The final rejection. Just when we thought we were done we received another round of rejections. There was no reason given on the letter and when I called they couldn’t find a reason either. They were kicked out of the system for a reason no one could explain and the only option was to send everything in again because they are unable to cancel a rejection. Which we did, this is 8 weeks after we first applied.
4. If you are getting passports for a family, leave plenty of time. The timeline on the website said you need 4-6 weeks to receive your passport. After 10 weeks of bureaucracy, all 8 passports are safely in my grasp. We had to change our plans a bit, but I am so happy to be past that hurdle.
So let me sum up the knowledge I received from this enlightening process: The local passport reps may not know what they are supposed to do, same goes for the people at the regional passport offices (they can differ widely on procedure), and your application can be rejected for unexplained reasons. Lastly, unless you are paying to expedite the process, leave plenty of time because you just never know what will happen.
There it is, the wisdom of my experience. Bon voyage!