How to (or not to) get a passport overseas
I got robbed nine and a half years ago while I was in Naples and every valuable thing that I had was stolen, including both my US and Russian passports. I went to the US embassy in Naples and got a replacement US passport within a month (the Russian one I applied for later in Sydney). The US replacement passport was no different from a normal passport and expired 10 years from the date that it was issued.
Nine and a half years later (July, 2019) I lost that passport somewhere in the UK. I went to the embassy in London and was surprised at how easily I was able to apply for a new one. At first, I stressed out about collecting all the documents and copies of documents that I thought I needed as proof of citizenship, but when I got to the embassy, all they asked to see was my driver’s license. They said that my application was approved straight away and all I had to do was pay a $145 processing fee and buy a special envelope to get the passport in the mail. I got my new passport within 10 days and at first glance it looked great! Legit little booklet with 52 pages! But when I took a closer look it turned out that the expiry date was not 10 years from now, but only 1 year from now, in August 2020.
This might not be much of an issue for somebody that lives a “normal” life and just goes overseas for their 2-3 weeks of yearly vacation, but this is a problem for me. For one, I don’t have another $145 to spare on another little booklet, and two, I may need a “full validity passport” (one that doesn’t expire in 1 year) to get certain documents, to apply for certain visas (like a working holiday visa) or even to get into some countries.
I emailed the embassy and searched online to see what I can do about this. I found out that you can change your “limited validity passport” for a “full validity passport” by applying at the embassy in London, and there is no fee to exchange this passport for a full validity one. So I made an appointment and went back to London to exchange this one-year passport for a ‘real’ passport.
I took a bus from Bristol to London yesterday at 4am, got to London by 7:00 and walked to the embassy just on time for my 8:00 appointment. The guy at the US embassy counter seemed to accept my application but told me that I needed to pay another $145 for a new passport. I showed him a printed piece of paper from the US embassy website that said there was no fee for exchanging this passport for a full validity one. Then he told me that this didn’t apply to me because I didn’t get an emergency passport. I got a “normal” passport, but the expiry date for this passport was one year from now because I had lost my passport more than once in the last 10 years.
I told him that I didn’t have another $145 to pay for a piece of paper, but I need a real passport, not one that expires one year from now. This guy talked to his “big boss”, then this boss came up to me (with quite an attitude) and told me that even if I pay the fee and apply for a full validity passport, I will probably only get another 1-year passport. And actually, any time I apply for a new passport, they can basically deny me from getting a “full validity passport” if they feel like it. And I won’t know what passport I’ll be given until I get it.
So basically, they have a huge amount of control over my life because not having a “full validity passport” will restrict me from being able to do a lot of things. – And that, to me, is really fucked up, and not all that far from China’s social credit system. China is at least transparent with all the information they collect about their citizens, whereas in the US, no one knows what information they’re gathering and what they do with it. If they can restrict you from getting a “full validity passport” as much as they feel like- that is a big deal.
Citizenship is a Forced Trade
Many Americans think that they’re so “free” but they have no idea how restricted they really are, how restricted we all are, actually, by our own modern-day tribalism and bureaucracy. You might not realize this when you live inside the system and follow the rest of the sheep herd, but as soon as you try to step outside, you’ll see that you’re hardly free at all.
I mean, you’re born on this planet and you’re assigned a citizenship (something that’s imaginary but upheld by the people in the tribe you were born in)- you have no choice but to take this citizenship, and when you do, you have to follow the laws and regulations of this tribe, and the laws and regulations of other tribes that tell you what you can or can’t do as a result of the place you were born in.
All these 1st world countries preach for racial and gender equality, yet they have absolutely no problem with discriminating against people born in the wrong tribes.
Take just one example: “oh you want to come to the US for a holiday? – Show me a piece of paper that shows you come from Australia, Western Europe or another rich country, and you can come right in, no problem. But if you come from Indonesia, Nigeria or any other poor country, OH NO NO NO- you can’t just come in here! You need to prove that you have a fulltime job, perhaps a house, lots of money, a ticket there and back, perhaps medical papers, and a lot of other crap”. You’ll have to spend months collecting all these documents and filling out forms, spending tons of money on all of this plus the visa application fee (which of course, is greater than the average person’s salary in your country) and then you can still be denied the visa, even if all your paperwork is solid. And even if you get the visa after all of this, you still may be denied entry into the country, just because the agent you speak to at the airport might “feel like it”.
You can’t just “travel around the world” if you were born in a 3rd world tribe- other countries won’t let you in! – And in today’s world, this is not considered “inequality” or “discrimination”, it’s just considered “the law”.