U.S. Consulate On Passport Issue Issues

If your passport expires before you do, don’t be caught with your pants down
BY: REN DRAKE HILL

You’re living in Mexico and you discover your passport is about to expire. What do you do? What DO you do? Recently, Thalia Jimenez of the Passports and Citizenship Office of the American Consulate spoke to the FRAO (Foreign Residents Attention Office) constituency at their monthly breakfast meeting, telling us what to do in just such a situation.

Americans with a still-valid passport have the option of renewing it in the U.S. at a post office or passport office any time, or at the American Consulate in Tijuana, by appointment.

But if your passport has expired, you must reestablish it through the Consulate if  you’re  in Mexico . Walk-ins are accepted Monday – Friday mornings, but appointments are strongly suggested. Show up with your current passport and two correctly sized photos (details at http://tijuana.USConsulate.gov). Don’t fret if you don’t have the photos; there is a photographer onsite. The process takes about two weeks. Your new passport will be delivered by DHL to your local DHL office in Mexico, or mailed to your U.S. mailing address.  If you are requesting a passport book and card, the process takes about 3 ½ weeks. Why? I don’t know. It’s the United States government. They don’t need a reason.

If you currently possess a valid passport booklet and want to request just the card, bring in your passport and photos. The original booklet will be returned to you on the spot. A ten year card will be mailed to you. This process is much faster when handled through the Consulate, as there is an official adjudicator on the premises, and not so with the U.S. post office Those guys are just letter sorters.

There is a lot of useful information on the US Consulate and Embassy website at http://tijuana.USConsulate.gov. Or you can snail mail questions and concerns to American Consulate General, PO Box 439030, San Ysidro, CA 92143-9039. Their physical address is Paseo de las Culturas s/n; Mesa de Otay; Delagacion Centenario C.P. 22425, Tijuana, BC; email: ACSTijuana@state.gov;  MX phone: 664-977-2000; emergency phone: 1-619-692-2154. Passport questions can also be answered through Google, but be aware that lots of those answering are selling a passport service you don’t have to pay for if you go direct to Uncle Sam.

Lastly, to report safety issues, robberies, delayed police response times, etc, email the office at TijuanaACS@state.gov. They want to hear the bad and the good news about your experiences living here in the Baja. Well, maybe they don’t care so much about your ranting on about good stuff that happens, their only concern is problem solving.

FRAO meets at 10:00 am on the third Thursday of each month at the Rosarito Beach Hotel and is open to all Americans. There is always interesting news you can use, and anyway, it’s fun to meet others who live here. The FRAO office is located in the Rosarito government building, first floor, Monday – Friday, 9:00 am – 3:00 pm.

The American Consulate is also interested in American Expat’s health, welfare, security and safety…but NOT your legal issues and problems, land quarrels, or civil disputes. My next article will detail the STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program) service, brought to you by the Bureau of Consular Affairs and the U.S. Department of State.  If my editor will let me. She thinks the program is a conspiracy to keep tabs on Americans for nefarious reasons, including tax collections.