By Jonathan Jucker Original Print Publication: June, 2008
Whether you are a long-term resident, seasoned traveler, or visiting Mexico for a week in the sun, few things are as frightening as a lost passport. The idea conjures up visions of being stranded like Tom Hanks in The Terminal.
Remember to keep your passport safe. Make photocopies to carry: it’s safer and will make getting a replacement easier.
In November 2007, I asked the Canadian Embassy in Polanco to renew my passport: it didn’t expire until June 2008, but if you are entering or re-entering Mexico with only a few months remaining, you can expect a hassle. Immigration officers may not permit you to enter at all.
Two weeks after applying, I got an email from Oscar, the Consular Assistant, advising me that my new passport was ready.
Remember, your embassy is here to help— that’s their job! We called the US, British, Canadian, and Australian Embassies to find out what their citizens should expect from their countries’ best and brightest diplomats.
Procedures are similar everywhere: fill out the appropriate forms, provide ID and photos, and pay a fee (see sidebar for details): your old passport will be returned, canceled. Each country has its quirks, however.
United States of America
Americans used to dealing with bureaucracy have long ago abandoned hope of speaking with an actual person. The Embassy in Mexico City is no different: if you press the keys to select passport services you will make good friends with a computerized voice. Try hitting "0" for the operator.
You can arrive unannounced at the Embassy to report a lost or stolen passport; when renewing you need to make an appointment. Email your completed forms (see sidebar) and contact info to MexicoCitypassport@state.gov. Those living around the country can arrange this through local consulates (see http://www.usembassymexico. gov/eng/edirectory.html).
The British Embassy's process is straightforward-- if you live in the DF. Otherwise, head to FedEx or book bus tickets, because it's the only place where renewals are processed. The Consulate in Cancún, however, can issue single-use emergency passports.
Canada has the most complicated rules around. The nit-picky requirements for passport photographs (http://www.ppt.gc.ca/cdn/photos. aspx?lang=eng) require that your head be a certain size and the lighting perfect. Also, no smiling please! It confuses scanning devices that can't comprehend our human emotions.
Then there's the Guarantor requirement. Back home, any passport-bearing citizen who has known you for two years can vouch for you, but our overseas diplomats aren't as trusting. Here, your Guarantor must belong to a professional organization, like a dentist or police officer. In the event that you aren't good pals with the cops directing traffic around the Ángel, you can complete a "Declaration in lieu of Guarantor" in front of a Consul, who will vouch for you-for $50 CAD.
Australians also need an upstanding citizen to vouch for them. The list of acceptable professions is longer (how close are you with your pharmacist?) and they need only have known you a year.
Australia introduces new forms on July 1, 2008; old ones are good until September 30.
One can renew by mail or in person at the Australian Embassy in Mexico City. If your passport is lost or stolen, or you're applying for your first as an adult, you must appear in person.
USA: $97 USD (adults), $82 USD (under 16). Forms needed: DS -11, DS -64 (lost or stolen). Wait time: 3 weeks. Website: http://travel.state.gov/passport
UK: $2620 pesos (adult), $1670 pesos (under 16). Forms needed: C1 (adult), C2 (under 16), LS01 (lost or stolen). Wait time: 10 business days. Website: http://www.britishembassy.gov.uk/mexico
Canada: $100 CAD (adult), $30 CAD (under 16), $25 CAD (under 3). Forms needed: PPTC 040 (adult), PPTC 042 (under 16), PPTC 203 (lost or stolen). Wait time: 20 business days. Website: http://www.ppt.gc.ca
Australia: $1927 pesos (adult), $964 pesos (under 18). Forms needed: Australian Passport Renewal Application. Wait time: 10 business days. Website: http://www.mexico.embassy.gov.au
All embassies want a police report if your passport has been stolen, and if you lose more than one expect increased scrutiny. While everyone issues emergency documents in 48 hours or less, the applicant needs to demonstrate a real need, such as a family emergency or an inability to change travel plans.
NOTE: Requirements change often, so check with your embassy for up-to-date info.