Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Tuesday Topic: Passports expiring

This is my question: Does anyone have a genius idea of how to stay on top of passport renewals for a whole family? Have you had all your children renew at once, just to get them on the same schedule, even though that would be expensive? If so, did that help anything? Honestly, I don't think we've been disorganized or irresponsible; just marking their expiration dates on a calendar or memorizing them isn't enough. Someone will need a passport that lasts more than 6 months beyond the end of a visa, or we can't renew residency because one passport expires just less than a year from now, or.... Even though we know when they expire, we can't keep up!

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  1. I don't have a miracle cure for expiring passports, but am kicking off the comments by saying "I hear ya!" We only have two kids, and they are twins, so we started issuing their passports at the same time, but in our country, children under school age can only get a passport for 2 years at a time! And there is no embassy here for us to renew them! So every time we go to our passport country for vacation, we have to renew the passports, even though they have only used them for a year. We can't take a chance on HAVING to return home JUST to renew passports if we don't take advantage of already being there one year.

    So despite of their young age of 2.5 years, our kids have now gone through three passports each! Luckily, our visas here come as separate documents, so we don't have to run to renew those too every time the passports get changed!

    But yeah, I think if I had several kids of varying ages, I would renew all their passports at the same time just to get them on the same schedule, even if some had several years available still on theirs. I figure the extra cost in money would far outweigh the emotional cost of agonizing over whether somebody would be indocumented because we forgot to renew at the right time!

  2. I wish I had a good system to offer! I think if I lived in a place where renewing passports required travel, I'd probably try to get everyone on the same schedule, but that's just me. You'd only pay extra to do that once, but in the long run, it would save a lot of stress and maybe even expense if you have to travel more frequently to take care of things on differing schedules. One idea that I had was to put stickers on the backs of the passports with a "renew by" date on them. Include the 6months buffer that you need to have for visas, so don't write the expiration date but rather a date at least 6 months before that. You could even put a "Start renewal process by:___" sticker on there and then add even more than 6 months. Then at least you'll have a date in mind to get going on renewals and it won't get away from you as easily. Also, do you use Gmail?? I like Google calendar a lot. I haven't tried to do anything years in advance, but you might be able to set up an email alert to remind you when you have to start the process again.

    1. I've thought of using the Gmail calendar, but I just can't figure out when to set it for. What got us stuck last week was that my husband's passport expires 10 months from now. Before this, that would have been plenty of time to do what we need to do locally, but this time they said that he needs to renew. I would probably have put a sticker or electronic reminder for 4 months from now, so I still wouldn't have seen that coming.

      Oh, and in reply to the anonymous comment above: you make me thankful for 5-year passports for American children! :-) However, I'm about ready to start advocating for us all to switch to the Russian/Ukrainian/other system, where children are just written into their parent's passports. That seems so much simpler.

  3. Our whole family is on different times, and my passport country is different from the rest of the family so mine takes at least 8 months to renew. We have done what Ashley suggested only we put the renew date on the front! We run a home for expats so we also have 17 other kids of five different passport countries to keep track of. I like the idea of having the computer remind me, I must look into that. But you are right it is not fun when time is running out and the passport still has not been renewed! Having photos taken that are accepted by the issuing office seems to be our biggest problem!
    I am anxious to see what other bright ideas are offered!