Geting a new US passport

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A little story that I didn’t talk about regarding our holidays and one that is, by nature, a tad embarrassing. Three days before going for our holidays in Turkey, I went on a business trip to London. After a day of meetings, on the Thursday night, upon arriving at Waterloo to take the Eurostar back to Paris, I found I no longer had my passport. It was past 5pm. Getting on the train was impossible. Panic aboard (except I wasn’t aboard at all). Our trip to Turkey was hanging in the balance. Our charter flight from Paris to Antalya left on Saturday. I had less than 48 hours and only one business day left to get a new passport in London, get a train back and then do everything one has to do on the last day of work at the office before going on holidays on the fly. A tall task. My wife supplied via email with me with scans of my lost passport, birth certificate, etc. (note to self: best to carry a copy with yourself in your bags).

On Friday morning, having taken an appointment on line for 8:30am, I got up early as I had to find a place to take my two photos — in a size not available in photo booths — that was open early AND not too far away from the Embassy.

After rumbling around, I managed to find a spot that was open early and, photos in hand, rushed to the Embassy. I arrived at the gate at 8:30 on the nose. The appointment apparently took into consideration the queue. Sparing you on the smaller details about the comedian guard, I was walking out through the in-door at 10:25am with the emergency passport in my hand. It took under an hour and a half to get a replacement passport. I was astounded. Aside from what I thought would be the inevitable long queue, I didn’t even know a passport could be issued in a day. Until you need it that fast, it’s not a question you really want to ask.

I was back at Waterloo at mid-day and, to the relief of all the family, back on my way to join the family. Of course, there was some work to be done, some bags to pack and some other last minute stress. But, we made it.

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Back in Paris after the holidays and after a quick business trip to Switzerland, I then went to get a permanent passport. (BTW You can’t get two emergency passports in a row). This morning, I showed up a 8:50am to drop off my application. I was out by 9:10. Seems so weird to spend so little time doing bureaucratic things. Kind of got me thinking… I can only imagine this is the privilege of being a US citizen. But I have other frames of references of how Embassies/Consulates will treat their own citizens. Is it possible that US embassies have figured out how to run efficiently? Have people stopped lining up for visas to go visit the US? Whatever the reason, a good score on my account.

And in yet another bonus: The US Embassy called me up later today to ask if I wanted to add a suffix “2nd” to my name, as that was what appears on my birth certificate and it had been omitted in my passport application form. It’s true that I have not had that “II” or “2nd” on my passport for all my adult life. But considering the ‘discovery’ (ongoing book) of my grandfather, after whom I was named and who died as a Japanese POW in 1944, I told the woman that I would indeed be glad to add the suffix. I am proud to be NMD II. My step-grandfather, Kenn Hinks, who married my widowed grandmother and was a remarkable man in his own right, always used to write to me with “II” behind my name on the envelope. An elegant gesture. In a touch of serendipity, this is an official rebirth of the notion of the II in my name.

The bad news, and just in case you needed another reason not to lose your passport: Every time I enter the US, for probably the rest of my travelling life, I will be stopped at the US Customs & Immigration and made to pass a second scrutiny of my passport to ensure that it is not a forgery or the lost passport in re-circulation. Might as well always check through baggage because I will have a minimum of 10 extra minutes to wait for the extra security check.

P.S. Anyone find my old, cancelled passport, please send it on to me!

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