Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Speedy Passport Processing

Kudus to the Canadian government in general and the Canadian Trade Office in Taipei (CTOT) in particular for speedy handling of my passport renewal. I was somewhat chagrined last week when I discovered it would take 15 working days post-application for my new passport to arrive from Canada.

I filed last Thursday and I got a phone message yesterday (Tuesday) morning saying my passport was ready. This is the third passport renewal I've had processed from Taipei and it's the first time my passport has been machine readable. (I think that's good.) However, I'm more impressed with the fact that it took only three working days for the passport application to be processed in Canada and sent back to Taipei. Or maybe they just say it's processed in Canada.

I still wonder why the Canadian authorities have such strict requirements for passport renewal applications, though. In addition to turning in my old passport, I was also required to submit an original birth certificate and a second form of photo ID with my English signature. Fortunately, I keep the birth certificate in Taipei and I have also maintained a Canadian drivers' license (none of my Taiwan photo ID cards have my English signature). Also, I was required to find a guarantor (a professional who has known me for more than two years) to vouch for my identity by signing my application form and a photograph (thanks R). My American friends say they only need to provide their current (expiring) passport as proof of identity. That's, like, so relaxed eh? Can't we do that too, Canada?

While I'm at it, I would like to offer restrained praise for the new (Taiwan) National Immigration Agency. This was my first visit to their office since they began operations in January (if you're not in the know, be advised that Taipei residents don't complete residency-related procedures at the Foreign Police office anymore; now this type of thing is handled down Yan Ping Street, at the corner with Guangzhou Street). I had to get my Entry & Exit Permit transferred from my old passport to my new passport. It all went down quite smoothly. The CTOT gave me a slip of paper with the English-language help line run by the NIA (0800-024-111). I called and found after a hesitating start in English that it was much more expeditious to speak Mandarin, but the operator was very friendly and she provided the correct information.

So this was a good Taiwan day for me. I had absolutely no inclination to yell at anyone, unlike the unfortunate Japanese man who is the subject of Feiren's item posted earlier today.

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