Saturday, March 22, 2008

Renewed my passport

I've been thinking about my passport lately. I got a passport a few years back. At work at the time there was a scheme that the programmers should be traveling out into the field. So we all had to get passports. It wasn't clear to me how a programmer is supposed to do his job which is to write code sitting in some hotel in Europe. But that's another topic.

So I got the passport but I never did have to travel. Although most of my coworkers did have to travel, some quite a lot. Earlier this year I got thinking about my passport since it's been a few years since I got it. I pulled it out this week to see it was issued in 2002 and it expired in 2007. Whoops!

I went to the passport Canada site to check about renewing. Luckily you can renew for up to a year after the passport expires. Renewing is fast and easy. After a year you can't renew and you have to do a full new application. The new application is much more involved than renewing.

Checking the date I saw I only had 2 days left where I could still renew. So I had to scramble. I got a passport photo at SuperStore. That was fast and cost $10. You just wait and it's ready in around 20 minutes. I filled in the online renew application which is pretty handy if you have a computer and printer. For a renewal you don't need a doctor, lawyer, accountant or policeman to verify your identity. Any two non-relatives who've known you for two years will do. So I asked a couple of coworkers and they said OK.

With everything ready I went down to the local passport Canada office in the Maritime Centre. That building is one of the ugliest and worst architecture around. On the way I did drive past and admire the Central Trust II building. That building is the jewel of Halifax architecture, perhaps the finest architecture in Canada.

The passport office is on the 15th floor. When I got there the waiting area was around 3/4 full. But they had 10 wickets open and I didn't have to wait very long for my turn, around 15 minutes. There was a lady sitting next to me who must have been in real estate. She made and received a number of calls while waiting and was chatting about all the closings to do in the next couple of days. In that office they have large panoramic windows with an excellent view of the Spring Garden Road side. I used to admire that same view every day back when I worked at PRIOR Data Sciences on Spring Garden.

Everything went smoothly when I put in my renew application. The passport clerk noted that I just made it before the deadline. It cost $87 for the renewal. So a total cost of around $100, grrr. But I should be good for 5 more years now. Perhaps I'll actually travel abroad this time. My last passport is blank, I didn't leave the country.

There's something pleasant about the passport office. Maybe it's the foreign service, the spirit of the best and the brightest. It's nice to have a passport, to belong to a good country, to be validated and able to cross a frontier and later be welcomed back.

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