The Visa Collector

A blog about travelling with a Filipino passport, and life overseas

Green to brown: New passport arrived

Posted by VisaC on October 16, 2011 at 11:13 pm

Finally got my replacement passport last Friday. I’m all set till 2016.

Unlike the good old days of the plain green passport, which you turned in for renewal in the morning and then picked up in the afternoon after lunch, the new brown passport with embedded electronics takes weeks. The standard timetable, as per the embassy claim stub, is set at “approximately” six weeks. In my case, it took 54 working days (August 3 to October 14). So if you know you have a trip planned, best to process your passport renewal well in advance.

Emergency extensions of passports, however, are possible. When my wife had to fly to the Philippines for a medical emergency early this year, and her passport was set to expire while she was out of the US, the embassy stamped a temporary extension on her passport so that she could travel while the renewal was being processed. This apparently isn’t a privilege that is given automatically. When I tried applying for a similar extension in the middle of this year, because I suspected that I would have to travel for business before my new passport could arrive, I was turned down. Reportedly, to qualify for an emergency I had to already have a flight scheduled. They also required me to have an affidavit explaining the nature of my travel.

The embassy staff didn’t really say so, but from the looks of it, there may have been people who were abusing the extension process. So now they have to clamp down on everyone. Bummer.

The new passport is great!!! The identity page isn’t protected by a brittle piece of lamination that seemed vulnerable to cracking if some immigration officer decided to twist it the wrong way (which happened to a friend . . . twice). Now it’s flexible, with a number of attractive-looking security features. Hold it against the light at different angles and you’ll see a variety of not-so-obvious marks.

At the back, it had the usual next-of-kin information in case something happens to you while travelling. It still asks for name, address, and telephone number. I would have thought that a 21st century passport would ask for an email address, but it didn’t. I put my wife’s email address anyway since it is arguably the most portable of our communication options.

Other than that trivial detail, I really like this passport. This 44-page booklet so beautiful, its almost a shame to use it. It’s a silly sentiment really given that’s what this $60 travel instrument is for, to filled with stamps and stickers. I guess it’s just the collector in me.

Happily, the first visa I’ll be working to put on it is also one of the nicer ones out there: a Canadian visa. A colorfully fitting start to an all-new visa collection.

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