It is often difficult to make a reservation to apply for a passport at the U.S. Consulate in Guadalajara. It seems that they only open a couple of weeks worth of appointment times, and those often fill up very quickly. When I tried to make an appointment, it took nearly a week of checking online for an open appointment every day before I finally found anything, and I mean anything open. They have appointments, when they are available, only from 7:30 am to 11:00 am. They supposedly will make an appointment for you if you call between 3 and 4 pm, but when I tried that, I got put through to a recording that told me to check online. Anyway, I finally was able to make an appointment, and today was that appointment.
When we showed up, we had to wait in line for almost an hour, but we had arrived about 45 minutes early to our appointment, so that when we were finally allowed inside, it wasn’t much past our appointment time. Now they don’t allow much of anything inside the U. S. Consulate. You can’t take any of the regular kinds of things you would think aren’t allowed, such as knives and liquids, but they also do not allow any electronics or even key chains. And they mean ANY electronics. They wouldn’t even allow us inside with the remote for our car. How are we supposed to get back into our car without the remote? Across the street, you can rent a locker for $40 (about $3.33 US), pretty expensive for just a car remote. We finally figured we could take in the key to the car and leave the remote inside the car. Of course, the alarm went off when we opened the door, but we were able to grab the remote quickly and turn off the alarm.
Once inside, we were given a number and then had to wait about half an hour for our number to be called. Hand in the application form, which we had to fill out online, along with the $110.00 US for the application fee. Then we were told that we also had to go halfway down the room and pay an additional $71 pesos (nearly $6 US) for the delivery fee. I thought the delivery was supposed to be free, unless we were paying extra for expedited service. Oh, well, there’s always more than what we are told. Then we had to wait another fifteen minutes or so for our application to be “processed”, after which we were called back up to the window to be told it was finished and we could leave. The passport will be delivered in about two weeks. The entire process took less than one hour, from the time we went through the security screening to when we exited the building.
They took my old passport to be kept with the application. So, now I am in the country without a passport. A little scary, but we’ve only once ever been asked to show any identification, other than when we are applying for some sort of official service, such as our FM3s, IMSS, or tax numbers. So, I’m sure I’ll be fine. Besides, I always carry a photo copy of my passport with me anyway.
I’ll receive back my old passport along with my new one, which will be nice, since I have a few travel stamps (visa stamps, etc.) in it that shows the travel that I’ve made during the last few years.
The new passport will be the kind with the RFID wireless chip inside the back cover, which means that anyone within about twenty or thirty feet (6 to 9 meters) with the right equipment (a handheld RFID reader) can find out all the information from my passport. I guess I’ll have to buy one of those covers or cases that block the radio transmissions. Either that, or simply cover it in aluminum foil. It will be interesting to see if any of the ports of call actually use the RFID reading of the passport. I’ve never seen one, but then I’ve also not really looked for them in the past.
Sorry, no photos with this entry, since they don’t allow cameras inside, and they don’t even allow you to photograph the outside of a United States Consulate. I photographed the Consulate in New Zealand when I was there, the first US Consulate I’d ever seen, and the guard chased our car and told me to delete the photograph from my camera.