Getting a passport for the first time can be exciting. It opens the door to explore the world.
But what if you receive a letter asking you to attend an interview?
That’s exactly what happened to my dad. It wasn’t his first passport either, but his original one expired in 1985 so there was probably no record. Plus 33 years is a long time to wait for another!
We had a feeling this would happen. The birth certificate copy he had was issued in 1947 for the Family Allowances Act (1945) caretaker Conservative government brought in. As he was 5 years old, he has no idea what happened to his original one. The 1947 one was tatty, held together with Sellotape and practically illegible so a new copy was ordered.
Check and send at the Post Office is my usual method of applying, so we did the same for him with the birth certificate copy. It may cost a little more, but any mistakes on the form are dealt with quickly so it’s worth it.
The appointment was made. Thankfully, there are numerous local passport offices around the country so you no longer need to go to a major city like London. Ours is at Cosham, near Portsmouth, in a huge building at Lakeside North Harbour industrial estate. There are no buses except for employees early morning and from mid-afternoon. Taxis are available at Cosham station. Sally was the name of our driver and she gave me her mobile to call when we’d finished.
If you are delayed, you could be buggered. Our train was stuck at Fratton due to a broken down one ahead. I called the number on the letter since there wasn’t one to the local office. The gentleman on the other end kept repeating like a mantra, “You have ten minutes leeway. I cannot pass on your message but as it’s being recorded, they will know you called.” Fat lot of use that is! But we made it.
So you arrive at the vast building, sign in and go to the correct office. But how can you prove you are who you say you are?
Fact is, you can’t. They won’t accept any documents in case they’re forged. You just get taken to a room to chat for about half an hour.
My paternal grandparents both died when he was 8 years old so he dreaded being asked questions about them. Thankfully, they never really came up, he said, and he received a text a couple of days later saying his passport would be delivered within 48 hours.
Life’s never dull!