Monday, March 15, 2010

Passport Applications, Check

The whole process of getting to Italy is full of bureaucracy! We must have no-fee passports and visas, just to get to Italy. Now, if we want to travel in Europe, we need a tourist passport as well.  That is a whole different issue, though.

After filling out four passport applications, my eyes were crossing. I had to refer back to records for social security numbers, birth dates and facts on my parents and Gary's parents that I never thought I would ever need! The applications are not difficult, just annoying.

Then, take two small children to get passport photos. If I would have went to post to get the pictures done for free, but they only do the pictures for three hours every other Friday morning. Not good for my schedule, considering I teach a class each Friday morning. So, we got to experience the joys of Walgreens' Photo Department for passport photos. They actually did a fairly decent job and got it over quickly, so no complaints. However, we had to order an extra set, because we will need pictures for the Visa. About $60 dollars later, we had everyone's pictures in hand. Luckily, the federal government will reimburse us for that cost!

 If I had been thinking, I would have ordered a third set, because we have to have pictures for the boys' tourist passports. The cost for these passports will be on us. However, if we want to travel Europe while we are there, the passports are a must. So, back to the paperwork and back to Walgreen's for more pictures!

After we completed the paperwork, got photos taken and made sure we had the appropriate documents; we went to the passport office on Fort Riley. It is necessary for the children under the age to be present to complete the passport application, as well as both parents. We turned our applications in and the staff typed our information into the system. When it came time to present all the documentation, everything was present...almost. Somehow, one of the boys birth certificates had disappeared from the packet. I must have looked as though I was going to have a meltdown, because the lady working at the desk suggested we get everything signed and just bring the birth certificate later. So, Gary had the privilege of making a return voyage to the passport office.

Meanwhile, the "No-Fee" Passports are in process and hopefully will be back in about 6-weeks. As soon as those passports come back, we go in and sign them. The passport office on Post will turn around and send them it to get our Schengen Visa that will allow us to stay in Italy for longer than 90 days.

So, once again, we are in a hurry up and wait mode.