The Passport Line Starts Here…

So my passport expires soon. Having heard reports of long lineups and processing times of up to 10 weeks, I decided to use part of my vacation day today to get through the dreaded ordeal of getting a new passport. The passport office at Complexe Guy Favreau is open from 7:30 to 4:30. Part of me wanted to get there for 7:30 so that I’d be the first in line but who has the willpower to do that? Sleeping in on your day off is a duty anyway.

So I got to the CGF and entered the lineup for the elevators at 9:44 a.m. The lineup didn’t look too bad – 3 relatively short snakes around the ropes. At least I’d visited the ladies room before getting in line. Ipod fully charged, I settled in for the wait. The security guards let people through in groups to board the elevator up to the 8th floor passport office. I figured I would be part of the 4th group. When the guard stopped the line right when he got to me, I thought, “you’ve got to be kidding me”. But thankfully, he was just spacing out the group so that the elevator wouldn’t get too crowded. I was allowed through less than a minute later and was handed a numbered ticket which was a really good idea since some people in the elevator were already jockeying for position to get off first. But once you exit the elevator, the guard stationed at the passport office calls you by number to get in line. So take that, pushy people. The guard takes your number and then you wait a bit more to have your documents checked. If all is in order, and pray that they are, you are given another number. The clerk then tells you “it will be a 2 hour wait”. You look around the packed waiting room and you think to yourself “WHAT?!”. Or in my case, I said it out loud (oops) and the clerk just smiled. I have to say, those clerks at the front are really cheerful. I don’t know how they do it.

So my ticket now said 10:30. I chose a seat and was prepared to sit there for as long as it took. Stupid me, I didn’t think to bring any reading material. The boredom was driving me insane. I don’t think I would have made it without my ipod. Even checking out the cute guy across from me failed to interest me for long. I was kicking myself for not bringing a laptop or something, anything to keep me occupied. But I managed to play some solitaire and do some people watching. I have to say that the guard on duty was super nice. I saw him being really helpful to a lot of people. He found a seat for an older man and when he noticed a mother nursing her infant, he helped her carry her things to another area where she could have more privacy. I was really impressed with the friendly helpful service at the passport office.

So it was now 12:00 and I was still over 20 people away from my number. I couldn’t take it anymore and had to leave my seat to go heed nature’s call. Guard your numbered ticket with your life. You can go downstairs and visit the washrooms or grab a snack as long as you have a number. You don’t have to wait in line for the elevator if you have a number. The guard will just nod you through like a VIP. I got back upstairs and waited a little longer. Finally, my number came up on the screen. I felt like I just won the jackpot! The whole transaction at the counter takes very little time. You almost feel like spending a little more time there to make up for the 3 hour wait. But not really. Surprisingly, I was told that my passport would be mailed out on April 30th and I would receive it by May 3rd via registered mail at the latest. So despite the horror stories being reported, it doesn’t take 10 weeks to get a passport. $87 and 3 hours later at 1:01 p.m., my passport adventure was finally over for another 5 years….

7 Comments so far

  1. ladyjaye (unregistered) on April 5th, 2007 @ 3:19 pm

    My passport went through some unfortunate flooding last year (never leave your passport in a drawer near a water source, such as the kitchen sink, just in case the sink overflows…). Anyways, it’s still in one piece and everything is still visible, but now it looks horrible. I oughta call them one of those days and ask if it’s still acceptable (I’d hate to have to pay to replace it, a mere 2 years after having it delivered)… I should verify that in the near-future, since my friends and I are planning a road trip to New Jersey later this year.

  2. Raven (unregistered) on April 5th, 2007 @ 4:13 pm

    Couldn’t you have done the application online? When I did my passport, the only waiting I did was to get on the elevator. After that, I was immediately sent to the counter. Cuz I had printed out my application and everything was in order.

  3. Dahlia (unregistered) on April 5th, 2007 @ 10:38 pm

    Yeah I also heard that you should fill out your application online and have it printed and they treat you VIP. My dentist can vouch for that.

    I made it last at promptly 4:30PM. Eventhough I was the last person to get served, I only waited 45 mins. My passport is also expiring, and I wanted to get it rushed cause I have a trip this month too, they told me it was going to be ready on the 17th. A mere 2 1/2 weeks. That 10 week thing was back in January, at least that’s what I heard.

  4. Laiya (unregistered) on April 6th, 2007 @ 12:27 am

    Aw geez, if only I’d done the online application! I was going to do it online but I had the paper application so I didn’t bother. Thanks guys. I’ll know for next time.

  5. Justin (unregistered) on April 6th, 2007 @ 8:09 am

    Hey great little post Laiya. Not looking forward to renewing mine.

  6. andre (unregistered) on April 13th, 2007 @ 8:25 am

    Now you can guess why my youngest daughter uses her American passport.

  7. Gaby (unregistered) on April 25th, 2007 @ 12:37 pm

    Passports don’t take 10 weeks..hahah…I’ve been waiting over 10 weeks now and still can’t get any information on how much longer it will take. With a trip date of May 7th…not fun at all. I don’t need the stress and aggrivation right before my trip. I’m totally pissed.

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