Thursday, January 15, 2009

Person with no Identity


At this moment, I am feeling really, really uncomfortable, as I have no passport. For hopefully no more than two weeks, neither of us can leave the country. It is a very strange feeling, as if I do not exist as a either an Australian or a Canadian.

For many years, while my mother was still alive, I kept my passport ready and a bag half packed, so that I could dash off to Australia in the event of an emergency. But when it came, her stroke, followed a day or so later by her death, there was no point in going for she was in a coma and everyone knew it was but a matter of time and my brother took care of it all, but when my brother died several years later it came as a complete shock and I was on the plane within 24 hours, even though I was still working, for then it was my turn to take care of things. Perhaps I had a premonition for that year I still had two weeks holiday banked and did not even have to take a leave of absence.



It is fifty years since I took out my first passport. How things have changed. Look, it is handwritten. It reads British Passport, Commonwealth of Australia. Inside it declares Australian citizen and a British subject. Now there is no mention of Britain on either passport, although this is my first expired Canadian passport so I cannot say how that may have changed. That one is, of course, in French and English. I am both a Canadian and une Canadienne.



Another change is the paucity of stamps in the current passports. My first one is filled with all kinds of exotic stamps from places I travelled to in those first five years and even personal history as it records my marriage and change of name, my immigration acceptance into Canada, along with the birth of my son, born here but registered as an Australian citizen. My daughter's birth must appear in my next passport, since this one expired in 1964 and she was born in 1966. Nowadays, hardly anyone stamps the passport as you come and go. Except the USA. Immigration is very vigilant there and they never omit to stamp your passport on entry.

Now, as you can see above, the Australian one is carefully cut on all four corners to be unusable while the Canadian one is punched through on every page as well as the covers with the words null void. It is rather funny that they both expired within a few days of each other since the Australian one is a ten year passport while the Canadian one lasts only for five years.

In the past two days we have spent $524 dollars on two new passports each and $56 for passport photographs, all for the privilege of being identified as Canadian and Australian citizens. The cost for the photos should have been only $40 which we paid earlier in the week for two sets for each passport but today mine were rejected at the Australian office because it did not "conform to the regulations", by a few millimetres or so it seemed to me. For some reason the old scientist's were fine. Go figure. So I was forced to rush out and have new photos taken and return to the office before they closed for lunch, all in about 30 minutes. Only the Australians would close their office for lunch!

So here I am, hoping nothing will happen that will cause me to wish I could travel the USA or to Australia in the event of an emergency. I am sure all will be fine, fine, fine. But I do feel uneasy for some reason.


14 comments:

Katney said...

Ah,but there is someone else who would close for lunch. In fact...

My DIL, who is Russian, sometimes has to travel from Spokane to Seattle for business with the consulate. Not only do they close for lunch, before lunch they deal only with Russian citizens, and after lunch they deal only with other than Russian citizens.

jams o donnell said...

Fear not jmb you'll still get passport stamps if you came to the UK again, not that they are particularly exciting.

I must renew my Irish passport.

CherryPie said...

I used to love getting those stamps in my passport...

mutleythedog said...

I havent had a passport for ages, as the UK charges £70 to renew and I couldn't afford it when it ran out. I can see France right now, but not go there...

Dr.John said...

My passport has expired. The last time I visited Canada I didn't need one but times have changed.

Rositta said...

My passport expires in two weeks so I'd better work on getting a new one. I don't think I'll be going anywhere anytime soon but you never know. Aaah those photos, we're not allowed to smile anymore...ciao

jmb said...

Really Katney, the Russians too. The Australians too did pre lunch dealings with Australians only. I found it pretty amazing too.

I'll have to come back to the UK Jams, to mix it up with the US stamps I will get.

Yes Cherrypie. I wonder why they don't do it any more.

But Mutley, you live where you were born. I need some proper documentation in hand.

I think if you drive over the border at the moment you don't need a passport but soon.

You are right Rositta, we look like criminals now.

Thanks to everyone for visiting and commenting.

Moggs Tigerpaw said...

JMB, you are so right. Hardly anyone seems to stamp passports these days. Especially not throughout the EU if you hold an EU member passport.

Where is the fun, the romance in that?

At least the US and Russia still do.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

I agree that collecting stamps was a great pleasure but now everything is electronic. And they don't even give you as much as a barcode!

Nunyaa said...

I find it all daunting, passports and related stuff, I haven't got a clue :)

Crushed said...

The term 'British subject' was only abolished in 1981. Up till then, if The Queen was head of State, the cirizen of the country concerned was a British subject.
In fact, prior to 1949(?), there was no such thing as a British citizen. An act of that year created the concept as referring to a citizen of the UK, as distinguished from a British subject. Up till that point there was no distinction in British law between any British subjects.

Carver said...

I have only traveled outside the U.S. on two separate trips to Europe. Once for three months as a teen when my Dad was studying in England and once to join my daughter in Germany and take her to France when she was a teen. However, I understand your feeling about emergencies although I'm sure it will be fine. I keep an up to date passport in case my daughter is out of the country and I need to get to her fast. She's already spent more time abroad than I have in her 23 young years.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

I can understand it makes you uneasy but it WILL be fine! Interesting about the changes in passports. I remember when they always put those stamps on them and how thrilled I was with my first one, when I went to Paris!

Ellee Seymour said...

I like looking at my old passports, but I don't have many stamps in them from countries I have visited.