Wednesday, 23 March 2011

What is a Romanian temporary passport good for ...

07/03/2011 12:00
I start planing my trip to China. As my passport pages are almost all full, I'll have to replace it.
I understood from a friend that Romanian embassies are quite useless because they need 6 months to replace a passport. If this is incorrect information, everything that followed might have been avoided.

13:00
I buy a plane ticket for Romania to go and replace the passport (£140), departure 11/03/2011, return 17/03/2011.

11/03/2011 8:00
I arrive in Romania

11:00 @ Romanian Passport Service
I'll need to wait 15 days for a regular passport to be issued (and I'm leaving in 7 days). Also, they won't release the passport to a 3rd person or mail it anywhere.

However, it looks that there's a solution: Temporary Passports are issued in just 2 hours! But... there's a note on a wall stating that Japan does not accept Romanian Temporary Passports and if we have one, we need to apply for a visa for Japan before traveling there. I figure that if this is the case, some other countries might not accept it either; I wonder why is Romania issuing temporary passports if they are not good worldwide.

I ask and the clerk at the Information desk from Romanian Passport Service doesn't know if China accepts these kind of passports. Of course, he has no idea where these passports are accepted or not and advices me to call the embassy where I want to travel to find out.

While I was there I notice that, although Romanians have a long tradition in queues, they have no idea how to to organize one. From 3 offices that receive applications, the clients manage to queue only to one of them and, when they find out their mistake, they start shouting at each other and at the staff, arguing that they do not organize this properly. The staff kindly highlights that they are not receiving their salary directly from the applicants therefore they should not tell them what to do. Please notice the word "directly" as it was very important in this argument... Still, I notice that the staff is way more polite than usual Romanian clerk.

12:30 @ Romanian Passport Service
I just finished talking with Chinese consulate from Constanta (as the one from Bucharest is closed) and they assure me that the Temporary Passport is fine for China and there's nothing to worry about it. For this reason I decide to apply for the temporary passport (£50) but this has the unfortunate effect of voiding the current one.

I also inform the clerk at the information centre about my findings and he thanks me about it and assures me that he'll pass on the information to the next clients.

13:30 @ Romanian Passport Service
My paranoia tells me that I should create a backup plan therefore I decide to apply for the regular passport too (£60). However, in order to get it I have to surrender the temporary passport that I have just paid £50 for. I will also have to go to the notary and pay £20 more to give the power to my parents to pick up the passport for me as it will be ready only on 25/03/2011.

The clerk notices that my Identity Card is going to expire shortly and tells me that I should renew it before it expires as it will be more difficult after this.

For those who do not know, the Identity Card serves exactly the same purpose as a passport with the exception that the Passport is valid only for abroad (you cannot use it in Romania at all) and the Identity Card is valid only in Romania.

14:00 @ Romanian Passport Service
I pick up the Temporary Passport. For once, I am happy that in Romania everything is going well and I have solved everything in one day...

Few days later...
I arrive in the UK and apply by post for the Chinese visa. You see, this is possible in the UK, compared to Romania where you have to queue for half a day.

2 days later
I receive a call from the Chinese embassy who informs me that they cannot put the visa on a Temporary passport.
Well, if I insist, they will issue the visa on the temporary passport but:
  • I have to write, sign and send them by post a paper with a declaration that I will "support any consequences" of this action. 
  • I also have to go to London, to the Romanian embassy and get a paper from them that the temporary passport is valid.
Obviously, I ask them nicely to return my documents and I only loose £12 paid for post

1 day later
I receive the documents from the embassy and send the temporary passport back to Romania by DHL (£20 more down the drain). I was strongly tempted to use it as TOILET PAPER before sending it back as this is all the temporary Romanian passport is good for.

7 days later
I get from my father the proper passport from Romania back by DHL (£40 more down the drain). Lucky me that I had the backup plan and the notary paper already made as they would not have released it and they certainly do not post any passports!

It could have been worse: Without the backup plan I would have had to go back to Romania to apply for the new passport, wait another 16 days and return to pick it up. Or better yet, I could have flown to China to be refused entry.

You have to love Romania!


6 comments:

Andrea Wagner said...

Alex is the Temporary Passport accepted in the US or Canada?

Alex said...

Wow, somebody reads my blog! Cool!

I don't know if it is accepted. You have to call the US or Canada's embassy.

However, you will know for sure before arriving there as you need visa for US and Canada.

Adriana said...

You should have start your story with "it's good for nothing" :))
I almost thought you got the visa on the temporary passport. Good that I read the story till the end :)

Croose Hackle said...

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Zack Monde said...

It appears honestly that the Temporary Passport is worthless. It is supposed to be a valid travel document for those needing or wishing to travel on short notice. From my understanding the temporary passport is a full 1-year valid passport with 16 pages. Unfortunately a friend was wanting to travel to Dubai, UAE and at the airport they denied boarding because it was a TEMPORARY passport. Even though the UAE requirements are that a passport must be valid for 6 months and with pages available (in this case with 16 pages) and also the traveller has a return ticket after 1 week only. This system is absurd and as an EU country why they have such bureaucratic process with such time needed it baffles me. Just to point out in Moldova which is not EU and miles behind other EU countries as a citizen there you can get a full normal passport same day! What the hell is wrong with the Romanian system - I seriously do not know!

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