You would have thought I would have learned my lesson about having a valid passport after my last passport drama in Singapore. The lesson being – you need a valid passport to travel.
Last time my passport didn’t have enough days of validity on it to enter Singapore. This time my passport was considered invalid due to damage.
What sort of damage?
Well in Australia, they do not recognize my Canadian 18+ card. Which is fine. I mean, I don’t expect them to. But it means that when I want to buy liqueur or go out on the town, I need to have my passport on me. So my passport ends up being carried around with me almost everywhere I go. This has led to quite a bit of wear and tear, as you can imagine.
But wear and tear isn’t exactly the issue here. The issue was a small water mark. But of course, with my luck, the small water mark wasn’t just anywhere… it was on a stamp…. causing the stamp to bleed through to other pages.
Now I noticed this right away but wasn’t sure if it was a problem or not. I decided to contact the Canadian embassy in Australia. I phoned them up to ask, but all I got was a voice mail recording saying “if your question can not be answered by our website, we will call you back. Otherwise, we will not call you back.” Well I couldn’t find anything about exactly how much water renders a passport invalid online so I figured they would call me back.
Nor did they respond to my other three phone calls, or my two emails (which included photos of the water mark).
So, given their (slightly rude) voice mail recording, I figured that I was probably in the clear. Cause if there was a problem they would have returned one of my calls or emails right?
We hadn’t traveled for several months due to Dan’s hospitalization, so when he was clear to travel we quickly booked a two week family vacation to New Caledonia. Suddenly I thought…hmmm… maybe I should check about that water mark.
This time, when I got the recording, I mashed the keys until miraculously I was transferred to reception. (This is my tactic with all automatic recordings.) The lady was extremely rude and did not want to transfer me to anyone, but I wouldn’t take no for an answer and finally I got to speak to someone in consular services.
She asked for me to email the photos again, so I did. She immediately replied.
“This passport would not be accepted as valid to travel. You will need to get a new one.”
YIKES!!! But we didn’t travel for just over a month, and it only takes 21 days to get a new Canadian passport when abroad, so all should be well if I get my documents in tout suite right?
But oh my god… the paperwork. Because my passport was “damaged” I could not apply for the simple renewal… I had to jump through hoops.
I needed to provide:
- A declaration on how the passport became damaged
- A stat dec from a police officer
- The back of my photos signed by the same police officer (but not the normal way that they sign it… a special way. Of course, this way is not the one given by the example on the form, so I had to get new photos… and then a new stat dec as I couldn’t find the exact same police officer again.)
- My employment history from the last 5 years
- My addresses from the last 10 years
- Four references who have known me for two years and who could be contacted by Passport Canada and quizzed about me to prove that they know me.
- My old passport (which they said they would not return to me since it was damaged)
- Three pieces of government issued ID
- An express post platinum envelope to return the new passport in
So I got it all together. It was a pain. But I did it. They received the passport the next day, and that is when it all started to go wrong.
Passport drama #1
They didn’t like the ID I had submitted. I had sent them my original birth certificate, original Manitoban 18+ card and my original Manitoban health care card.
Firstly they told me, we can’t accept the Manitoban health care card because it does not have a signature on it. Then they told me, we can’t accept the Manitoban 18+ card (which does have a signature) because it does not have an expiration date.
They told me they do accept these ID from other provinces, but not from Manitoba. The only ID they accept from Manitoba is: a drivers license (I don’t drive), a seniors card (I’m in the 20’s), an Indian status card (doesn’t apply to me), or an armed forces card (that wasn’t in my employment history.)
I was FUMING. The ID I had sent them was the exact same ones I had renewed my passport with the last two times – but apparently the rules changed.
So instead I had to send them a declaration stating why I have no acceptable ID. I also sent them my residents card from when I lived in Belgium, hoping that they couldn’t read Dutch and wouldn’t notice that the card was expired. (Expired ID is no good as well you see.)
Well, they couldn’t read Dutch and my expired ID was accepted! Huzzah! (Or maybe they could and they just accepted my letter…. who knows.)
Passport drama # 2
They finally processed my passport, but then there was a new drama. Apparently I hadn’t sent them the right express post envelope and they would not send it back to me until I provided them with a new envelope. I had sent them “express post” instead of “express post platinum”.
Now OK, this might have been a valid point if not for one small detail:
Australia Post is in the process of discontinuing express post platinum.
I had to run around to different post offices to find one that had one left in stock…. and then mail them an envelope…. in another express post envelope.
In the end it was all OK.
My references answered the Jade quiz correctly, my ID was finally accepted, and the correct envelope was received.
I got my passport back in time… as you could have guessed since there have been some New Caledonia posts on site already!
And best of all…. amongst all the drama and confusion… they forgot that they told me I can’t have my old one back…. and sent it back to me as well! YES!
I now keep my passport in a passport cover… and I recommend you do to!