Sometimes the gods of travel smile down on you and everything works out seamlessly, and sometimes it seems that you are calling when they are not in the office as the problems stack up. The later is where we have been at lately so please forgive me for a little bit of a ranting post.
A few months ago I shared the headache inducing process of getting a passport for a minor as we worked on getting my daughter’s passport for some international travels we had planned. After 4 trips back to the passport office, finally the officer there said that we should have everything we need and the application was sent off. We waited patiently until we could check the status online. A few weeks after we had sent it we received the email that it was received and in process. Even with paying extra for expeditated service we would still be looking at 4-6 weeks for the passport to arrive. But they had it, we were in the que, and we started checking every day for the next update.
But the next update came in the form of an email saying they needed more documentation before the passport could be issued. They provided a list of documents that would complete the process. We went down the list…nope, nope, could get but would take awhile, nope, doesn’t apply to us, nope, nope…Our heart sank a little further with each item that we didn’t have. Finally at the bottom was listed a form for ‘extenuating circumstances’. So with all the vigor of a last ditch effort, I completed the form and wrote a detailed letter listing the complicated circumstances of our situation. I had all of us kiss the envelope before sending it off hoping that a little Vegas-style luck would go with it.
We were back to waiting for an update and now I was checking the status multiple times a day. They give you a number to call and a reference number to check the status of the application. But much to my frustration, I called the number and talked to a person who told me just to keep checking online. Why bother to have a number and provide the reference number for that!
Meanwhile, our first of two international trips was getting closer. We were all booked for a trip with my family to Costa Rica at the end of September. Days were spent on the phone with each other trying to decide how best to proceed and looking at all the different alternatives we could. We looked at booking a trip to a US territory where passports wouldn’t be needed, we discussed part of the family going and others staying behind, we tried to rally each other that the passport would come in time. Finally though, the decision was made that a family trip wouldn’t be complete without all the family being able to go. We canceled our trip with great sadness and many tears and decided to go next year instead.
Now we began to look towards our next trip to Paris that was scheduled for the end of November. This trip had more riding on it for many reasons. We were suppose to go to Germany last year but our trip was canceled the day before we were suppose to leave because of a resurgence of Covid in the area. A few months after our canceled trip, we took our vouchers and used them to book a trip to Paris and began to plan our trip with great excitement all around. Our daughter’s passport was still valid last year, but because minor passports are only good for 5 years meant that this year she would need a new one. The vouchers could only be used to the end of the year and then we were out the cost of the trip.
With Costa Rica canceled, we began to feel all the more anxious about our upcoming trip to Paris. After much debate and all the more status checking online, we decided to push our trip back to December to the week before Christmas. It was good that we did though because after 5 weeks of waiting, we finally heard that the ‘extenuating circumstance’ form that we submitted was not accepted. They would have to have one of the listed documents in order to proceed.
So here we are, we’ve made an appointment with a judge to get the final piece of this passport dilemma. I understand why this passport process is so strict when it comes to minors and I understand that our situation is more complicated than others in needing more than usual documentation. As soon as we get done at our court appointment then we will be overnight mailing whatever other documents we can possibly find and hoping beyond hope that the passport comes and we are able to go on this family trip that has meant so much to us.
To whatever deity of passports that may be listening, please answer your phone and send us a some good news and happy travels.