Getting a new Passport

My Canadian passport expires in September of this year, and since I’d like to have permission to travel, I need to renew it. The process isn’t too terrible, since the Canadian government now has a faster way to renew a passport by mail from the United States: fill out a form, get some new pictures taken, mail it all in with the fee and your old passport, and you’ll get your new passport in a month or two.

Well, as usual, nothing in my world is ever as simple as it should be. First of all, getting pictures taken was a huge hassle. I showed up at a Target photo studio, because I was assured over the phone that they do passport pictures there. Luckily, before we got started, I thought to mention to the nice photo lady that these were for a Canadian passport. Oh, no, she said, we can’t do those! We looked at the helpful 5 pages of rules and instructions that Passport Canada had me download with my application, and sure enough, the format is different. I figured the photo studio, with all their digital magic, could make it happen, but she said passport photos are done with a Polaroid and they only have one size, 2×2 inches. And mine needed to be 2 inches by two-and-three-quarter inches. Great. She recommended the fancy camera shop at the mall, so I went home and started making phone calls.

Walgreens won’t do it.
Rite Aid won’t do it.
Costco won’t do it.
Picture People won’t do it.
Ritz Camera won’t do it.
JCPenney photo studio won’t do it.

I ended up at Sears, apparently the only place in Maryland capable of taking a picture of me in 2×2.75 size.

The photos are, of course, terrible, because of the rules. Hair off my face, look straight forward, completely neutral expression with no frown or smile. It’s a mug shot, really, and it shows me that I should never commit a crime because the photo of me they’ll show on TV when I’m arrested will be horrible.

Then it was off to FedEx to mail it all to Canada. I would have loved to use regular old mail, but Canada Post is currently on strike, which means my passport application would not get to its destination because the postal workers are all hanging out and picketing instead of getting the mail where it needs to go.

That particular FedEx office, in Columbia, gets a big fat F for customer service. The assistant manager there treated me like an idiot, rolling his eyes at my questions and telling me “the instructions are on the form”. I have never done this before, there are a dozen different forms and envelopes, and you’re “helping” your customer by hanging out 20 feet away at your computer and mumbling things at me while sighing at my incompetence. Thanks, jackass. Luckily there was another guy there who was nice enough to walk me through sending this very important package, so it’s quite likely that it will get there.

So… now I wait. They say 20 business days is the average turnaround time, excluding the shipping time, so I should get it back soon. I’m nervous about emergency need to travel before then, but I guess that’s what the embassy is for. Knock wood that I won’t need that!

One thought on “Getting a new Passport

  1. Gingy

    I know it’s nowhere near your home or work, but the Johns Hopkins Pathology Photography department at the main hospital does the pictures. I look like a Russian peasant woman who’s had a hard life, in my picture.


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