Turns out I’ve had two valid passports for most of my adult life, this is the first time I’ve two from different countries.
It turns out that once you go to Israel, Russia, Saudi Arabia, China and a few other less than western democratic countries, it’s best not to mix passports. I’ve no idea if it’s the same these days, but certainly in the late 1980’s, early 90’s it was. Back in those days, travelling to what was then still the Soviet Union, East Germany, Bulgaria and Rumania made things a little difficult.
Cue corporate travel department solution, get a second passport. I did. The laugh was my visits to those and other countries were part of a big AMR Corp.(American Airlines parent company) and IBM project to upgrade passenger ticketing and install modern radar based air traffic control systems in those and a bunch of other middle eastern, eastern European and north African countries so that airlines could in fact fly over them to get to the far- east.
More recently, watching Great Britain become more and more dysfunctional, at least it seemed that way from Twitter, I was skeptical about renewing my UK passport which expired this year. Turns out there was nothing to worry about and in fact, the UK Passport office really did offer a first class service.
I applied online for £95; had to get Kate to take acceptable picture at home; then I paid $37.95 to send my old passport and copy of my US passport to the UK. I sent the paperwork on June 30th and received my new UK passport back today. That beats the US system.
What was really good with the UK Passport office application process is that I was able to register for either or both txt message, email message updates. I got one when the paperwork was received; another when it was processed and approved; a third when the new passport was printed; and another when it was dispatched along with the courier number. After that it was all handled through the courier.
This is one of many ways that the USA continues to fall behind. From banking, to taxes; from payment systems to passports – other countries look for ways to take cost out of the system and focus on efficiency. Here in America we deny funding, and make organizations do with what they have. Disappointing and frustrating, slow and difficult.