So I have a funny story, and I wish I had some funny photos to illustrate it, but you’ll just have to use your imagination.
When you get a UK visa, it exists as an extra page in your US passport. This works well, except when your passport expires but your visa is still valid. In that case, you have to get a new passport. But get this: they don’t transfer your visa pagefrom the old passport into the new passport. So now I have TWO passports: one that has expired and has had giant holes cut into the cover to show that it is expired, BUT the visa inside it is still good. The other passport is brand new, but doesn’t have my visa in it. So I have to travel with both copies, one to prove my identity and US citizenship, and the other to prove my presence here in the UK is valid.
But that’s not the only passport-related story. Alex has traveled so much for work in the past 2+ years that all the pages for his passport are full. Totally and completely stamped-out. So a few months ago he had to send his passport away to get extra pages added. It was a bit dicey trying to figure out when he would be home for about 4 weeks so they had time to process the passport without him needing it! But we did that, and when we got the passport back, I have to admit we were both a little shocked. They just stuffed the extra pages in there, and now it looks slightly obscene. Seriously, it’s bulging and awkward …. kind of like me in a mini-skirt.
And now we come to my third-little-passport-anecdote. It’s time to renew our visas! I am excited because it means I can get my new visa in my new passport, and then I can formally get rid of my old passport. But get this: it takes about 4 weeks to process the paperwork for a visa, and we can’t find 4 weeks between now and the expiration date when Alex won’t be needing his passport. So we could either A) get him emergency passports as required, or B) get him a second US passport. Yes, that’s right. For fancy-pants business travelers, the US government will authorize a second US passport. It’s quite convenient, because he frequently has to submit his passport to get a visa to another country. For example, to get into China you have to give your US passport to the Chinese embassy here in London. And if you happen to need your passport during the time that the Chinese embassy is holding it, you’re out-of-luck. But with a second passport, that’s not a problem. So we’re going to get Alex a second passport, and then we’re going to renew our visas. It’s all quite involved with lots of paperwork (and fees! oh, the fees!!) and appointments at the US embassy.
If you’re thinking about living or working overseas, make sure that paperwork is your strong suit! We got a lot of practice when we first moved, and I have to admit that even all this is nothing compared to the paperwork for getting the cats into the UK, but still … it’s one of the more fun paperworky things to do because the results are so nice. 🙂
And on that note, I’m about to take myself and my dodgy passports to Heathrow to catch a flight to Oslo for the weekend! Ta ta!