Because my passport was going to expire in December, I submitted an application for renewal in April. The new application form said that if I wanted my old passport back, I needed to submit an Xpresspost envelope. I was a little hesitant about this (the Internet has lots of stories about people losing their passports in the mail), but since my passport had a valid US visa that I wanted to keep, I paid the fee and submitted my application along with the prepaid, pre-addressed envelope. The consulate gave me a slip of paper that said the passport would be available on June 19 if I was picking up, and they confirmed that they would mail both the old and the new passport to me using the Xpresspost envelope.
I started worrying when July rolled around with no passport in sight. I called the embassy to look up the tracking number, and then looked up the tracking number on Canada Post’s website. Canada Post’s site claimed that the parcel had been delivered on May 31. May?! Nope. Hadn’t seen it. W- hadn’t seen it. J- hadn’t seen it. It wasn’t anywhere near the mailbox or in our mail sorter. We get along with the neighbours, and they hadn’t said anything. Missing. Nada. Zilch.
Oh no! I felt annoyed at the inconvenience, disappointed with Canada Post, and worried about whether I’d get stranded here in case a family emergency came up. I had considered the risk and gone for it anyway, but that still didn’t mean I was happy with the worst-case scenario. I called Canada Post to investigate. After several days, they said that they unfortunately couldn’t track it down, and they sent me a letter confirming its loss.
Fortunately, when Canada Post said that they’d given up, W- was working from home. I cheered up after a few hugs. “I’d never lost a passport before,” I said. “I could learn about the process. And besides, it could’ve been worse.” I started singing “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.”
“Okay, that’s stretching it,” W- said, laughing. I think he was happy that I bounced back quickly. I know I was. I like being able to flip things around and look at the good stuff. This was another opportunity to find out if it’s true that things aren’t bad, they’re just different. Another opportunity to practise focusing on what I can do to move things forward instead of getting tangled in useless blaming. Another series of blog posts as I figured things out.
Besides, that’s what I have buffers for. Replacing the passport would be expensive (> $300 if I include the cost of replacing the US visa), but that’s what my travel budget is for – it just means the next trip will be a little further out. Replacing the passport would also involve a lot of time and a fair amount of frustration, but I could also look at it as free exercise from biking, some time to do Japanese flashcards or read, and free practice in keeping my cool in the moment. Buffers absorb little shocks in life and let me reduce stress.
Equanimity restored, I made a list of the requirements for replacing a lost passport.
- Police report for lost passport
- Birth certificate (thank goodness I had an extra copy!)
- Other proof of Philippine citizenship (time to dig up that high school transcript)
- Application and application fee
- Affidavit of loss (which can be completed and notarized at the consulate)
If you ever have to go through the process yourself, here’s what I’ve been learning from the first part of it:
- Although the Philippine passport application form sends you to police headquarters on 40 College Street in order to file the report, police HQ will send you to a police station (such as the one on 255 Dundas Street) where you can file the report.
- The police will want the details of the new passport and any old passports included in the package. The consulate keeps track of the passport number for the new passport, but if your application was some time ago (really, 2 months and I’m no longer in their current database?), you may need to wait for the person who normally manages the records to come back from lunch break.
- Also, if your name has J, E, or A in it, take care with spelling and confirming it with people who have strong accents. I’ve got the Sierra-Alpha-Charlie-Hotel-Alpha spelling of my nickname down cold because I have to say it all the time, but I rarely have to spell “Sandra Jean” with radio spelling. I resorted to “J as in Michael Jackson” since I didn’t remember Juliet off the top of my head. =)
- The police will give you an unofficial printout, but the consulate application form specifies an official report. Since the consulate is a subway ride (or a very hilly bike ride) up Yonge all the way to Eglinton, it’s probably safer to just go ahead and get an official report sorted out instead of going to the consulate, applying, and then finding out you need the official report after all. So you may as well head back to 40 College Street, where you will line up on the ground floor (not the 4th floor as indicated on the application form), pay a fee (cash not accepted, so I paid by credit card), and initiate the process that will result in some kind of fax to the consulate in 7-10 business days. It turns out the faxes go out every Thursday, but you don’t get a notification, so you just have to follow up with the embassy.
… and that’s where we are. I’ll keep you posted.
Anyway, this is just one of the many, many reasons why, unlike practically every other twenty-almost-thirty-something, I really don’t like travelling. Paperwork. Grr. But it is what it is, so I might as well get through it, and I can focus on squeezing as much good stuff out of it as I can. =)
It’s not bad, it’s just different.