Getting Documented

So it’s that time of decade again where I need to renew my passport or find myself without proper documentation, read: possible illegal immigrant.

Renewing the passport this time round could not have been simpler, or more straight forward than last time. Last time it cost me an arm, a leg, and part of a kidney in all the associate fees, and all to send the old one to the British Consulate in Ottawa — basically, up the road from where I’m living now. The total cost was over $300 Canadian.

This time around I was able to do everything, and I mean, everything, online. From filling out the form(s), to supplying the requested digital documentation, to providing a digital image of myself (without having to bribe the dentist to sign the back for the exorbitant fee of $65 Canadian), to paying securely with the credit card.

All this done directly with HM’s Passport Office in London for the princely sum of £100.

So civilized, just pop the old passport in the post to London and, on receipt, new passport will be issued.

The one thing that never changes in this scenario, however, is the quality of the photo.

Last time around I had to go to a registered outlet (read: local pharmacy) and have some myopic university student stand me in front of a plain background while they took my mugshot. No smiling. No hair across the face. No frowning. No glasses. No squinting. Look straight at the camera and lose the smirk.

Basically, look like you’ve just been hauled up on drug or larceny charges at the local Police Station, and about to be put away for 10 to life! And, adding insult to injury, as previously mentioned, having to get the set of four photos signed and validated by someone of note: Doctor, dentist, police for a fee.

Now? You can have a friend take your snapshot with their smartphone, upload it directly as you are filling out the forms and say simply: ‘Yes’ this is an exact likeness and representation of me and that’s it.

Of course, that doesn’t mean the photo is any better looking than what the pharmacy kid took ten years ago, but hey, who’s complaining, right?

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