Did you know that if you are traveling to Italy, your passport needs to be good for 90 days after your return?
Yeah, that’s a good tip for anyone thinking of going to Italy. That expiration date on your passport is more like a suggestion – a “best-by” date if you will.
I didn’t know this either. My mother happened upon this information in the Rick Steves guide she’d been diligently ripping apart and stapling together into day-tour packets. (This is an awesome thing to do, by the way.)
Did you know that, should you discover this fact within 14 days of traveling, you have to drive to a passport office to remedy the situation. Yeah, I didn’t either. Lucky for me, there’s one three hours away in Seattle, and my boss was so excited that I was going to Italy that she let me make up the time.
The first time I made an appointment and drove to Seattle, (yes, I said “the first time”) it was 9 days before my trip. They took my info, and my old passport, took my credit card number for special overnight delivery, counted the days it would take to process, and assured me that I’d have the passport by Friday. This was on Monday. I left for Italy the next Tuesday. That’s all well and good, but the Monday before I left was a federal holiday.
I told the guy if I didn’t get it in time, I was hosed. He didn’t seem concerned that we were leaving no cushion. Who am I to question the passport agent dude? He does this every day, right?
On Thursday when I called to make sure all was well, the office did not reassure me. They couldn’t find me in the system. Or so they said…
As a side note, evidently, the people in the passport office who deal with the cranky people at the window, also answer the phones. So, if you call in and it goes to voicemail after ringing for a while, it’s because they weren’t able to answer it, and not because it’s an automated system. If you hang up and call and hang up and call and hang up and call and hang up and call, it can cause them to become cranky as well.
This is a good tip.
So after pissing off every agent in the building with my “persistence” I drove back on Friday.
It was excellent. The folks at the window realized that I could not wait until Monday for my passport, and expedited processing (which hadn’t even started for some strange reason) while I went to the pier. It was a lovely sunny day, and the passport office is about 4 blocks from the water. I spent the best day I’ve ever had in Seattle waiting for my passport.
After two trips to the passport office, several phone calls and a super-manly photo in my softball uniform, I finally have my passport. I would not, however, suggest this method of renewal. It was 3 days before I left, when I finally had my passport in hand.
I would suggest studying and memorizing the passport requirements for any country you might be visiting in the next 5 years to make sure you’re up to date.
Or you could just call the nice folks in the office…