Friday, August 31, 2012

Bureaucracy - gone international, Lawrie’s turn to write



Heading to Canadian Consulate in Cancun
No … not Mexico, but in Canada - and the USA.

It’s time.  Time for us to renew our passports, and since we live year-around in Mexico we decided to renew from here.  First we travelled to the Canadian Consulate in the hotel zone of Cancún to obtain the proper forms.  We were told we could not use the quick renewal process requiring only two new photos and our old passport.  This service is available to Canadians living in Canada, USA, Lebanon, Guinea, Cape Verde, Gambia and Senegal.  It is not available to the estimated 500,000 Canadians living full or part-time in Mexico.   We are given the long form to fill in, requiring two new photographs, a qualified guarantor such as a lawyer or doctor, our birth certificates, and our old passports. 

A week later: okay, got it all.  We returned to the Cancún Consulate and paid for two passport renewals in exact cash – no change available, and no credit cards accepted.  The Consul checked our forms for errors and told us to send the completed forms and the receipt, with a pre-paid return envelope included to the Canadian Embassy in Mexico City.  Done.

Filling out request for new birth certificate
Then we waited.  I emailed the Canadian Embassy in Mexico City twice.  “Did you receive our applications?”  The first reply was: “We don’t do visa applications.”  Really?  Well, that is certainly a useful, or perhaps, useless piece of information.  “Again, did you receive our applications?”  No response. 

And we waited some more.  Two and a half weeks later the Consul in Cancún phoned to say there was a problem with my passport application.  My birth certificate was no longer valid.  You can probably feel the steam coming from my ears by now.  “Not valid?  I have had my birth certificate for 70+ years – and now it’s no good!  Did I exceed the best-before-date?” 

Apparently, the Province of Manitoba, in their infinite wisdom, decided to change to a more secure form of birth certificates.  The bureaucrats merely neglected to publish the information - as I discovered on an internet article written in 2009 discussing a similar situation.  Lynda, who was born in British Columbia, Canada, does not have to replace her birth certificate.  It’s an old folded, faded piece of paper much like mine, but still valid.  The Consul said they would hold our passport renewals in Mexico City until my new birth certificate arrived.



UPS in Cancun - birth certificate arrives

So, back to the computer I go.  I obtained the necessary forms on-line from the Manitoba government, downloaded, printed, and filled in the appropriate spaces.  But the Manitoba government will not accept a scanned copy.  The completed form must be faxed.  With much searching around on the island I located an internet business that had an antique fax machine, disconnected, but available for use after a warm-up period.  Off goes my application, along with my credit card information to pay for the $100.00 speedy approval and expedited return courier service.  Wow! They did an eighteen hour turnaround.  The new birth certificate was on its way.

The courier special delivery envelope, with one thin sheet of paper, got as far as US Customs in Louisville Kentucky.  And there it sat – for six long days – waiting to be processed through US Customs.  Finally, someone decided that my birth certificate was not a matter of US national security and cleared it through. 
UPS in Cancun - and birth certificate leaves
Back to Cancún again.  This time to the UPS courier office where we picked up the envelope, cut it open, and addressed a new courier envelope to the Canadian Embassy in Mexico City.  Luis at the UPS office was terrific, very helpful.  UPS had my birth certificate delivered the next day in Mexico City. 

At 9:00 in the morning I called the Consular Section in Mexico City.  The French-Canadian woman, working at the Canadian Embassy in Mexico City answered in French.  It took me a few attempts before I was able to communicate what I wanted.  “What was the expected delivery date of our new passports?” 

The reply …. 15 working days.   We’ll see.  

For once, both Canada and the USA, have out-bureaucrat-ed Mexico!

And then one final frustration: today's email from the Canadian Embassy dated August 30, 2012
Dear Canadian citizens,
As of September 17, 2012, Canadians living in Mexico, who meet specific eligibility criteria, will be able to apply for a new Canadian passport through the simplified renewal application process. Further information can be found at the following link: http://www.canadainternational.gc.ca/mexico-mexique/consul/ppt.aspx?lang=eng#SimplRenew
 
Our passports are already 3/4 of theway through the renewal process and the rules have changed.
 
 
 

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

it wasnt fun for you, but it was a fun read for us:-) ha. carl/debbie

Lynda said...

Hi to Carl and Debbie - your comment came through on my email .... but didn't post on the blog. How strange.
Lawrie and I have fun poking at government 'rules and regulations' in Canada, US, and Mexico. We have learned to be very very patient with bureaucracy.