Attention Canadian passport holders (I say “Canadian” because I have no idea if this lesson applies to those carrying passports from other countries)! I am sharing this story with you so that you might avoid the same mistakes I have made.
Preparing for my upcoming trip to China has been a bit of a hassle due to the fact that I had to (rather quickly) get a new passport. Upon filling out the forms for my China Tourist Visa, I noticed the photo in my passport looked a wee bit odd. My unsmiling straight-faced self stared back at me, with a Portugal-shaped water stain stretching from forehead to chin. With eight good years remaining, my ten-year passport was damaged.
[All the swear words]
I went to the passport office close to work and asked (with much hope) if there was any chance I could still use this passport.
“No. And definitely not if you’re going to China.”
[All the swear words]
So I filled out the forms for a NEW ten-year passport; running around getting signatures and paying for something I had not planned on…frustrating, to say the least. But alas, I have picked up my new passport, mint condition, zero stamps, blah blah blah. Stupid new passport (grumble grumble).
After walking back to the office, I realized they had not returned the old passport to me. And I know I checked the box on the form opting to have the old one back. I quickly phoned Passport Canada and after waiting on hold for 20 minutes, a nice man checked into this for me,
“Due to security reasons, we do not return damaged passports.”
“Even if you cut off the corners or punch a hole through it like usual? Can’t I just have it as a keepsake?”
“No ma’am, I’m sorry. We cannot return it to you because it is damaged. This is for security purposes.”
“Ooookay. Well, thanks for checking.”
I’ll be honest, I had a very quick cry at my desk after hanging up the phone. I have never ever ever given up an old passport before. I have all my old passports tucked away. And this one…this damaged one…it has my INDIA stamp. And my ENGLAND stamp. And my stopover in FRANKFURT stamp. But my INDIA stamp! I worked so long to go on that trip. That stamp was more than just blue ink. It was special; the first trip where I ventured out solo, the trip where I found so many lifelong friends, my dream trip for many years. Needless to say, I am rather upset.
I have absolutely no idea how it is a security breach to have a damaged passport in your possession, but not another old one. It’s damaged. Unusable. Worthless to anyone else who is not me. If anyone can offer any logic to this policy, please! Tell me.
Silver lining…? Positive thoughts…? I guess I’ll just have to go back with the new passport and get my India stamp again.
Lesson: Take extra good care of your passport, because you cannot get the damaged one back once you replace it. Maybe this is common knowledge, but I’m double plastic bagging it now!