As a family we literally have nearly 30 passports in a drawer in our house, most of them with holes punched through or stamps in them marking them “canceled.” Why?
Well, first of all, everyone in the family has dual citizenship except me. That means everyone has a passport from both Mexico and the U.S. (I have a permanent residency card for Mexico). It also means that both passports need to be renewed in each respective country for us to enter in and out of both countries with ease.
Mexican passports have to be renewed each year up till three years of age, then up through 7 or 8 years old the longest passport time is three years. In the U.S., up through adolescence (I think), 5 years is the longest spanning passport. Suffice it to say that we’ve had to renew our passports A LOT. This process for obtaining and renewing a U.S. passport is much easier if you are physically in the U.S., but alas, the process done at the U.S. embassy is…more complicated. If you’d like to read about this process, click HERE and then HERE.
The process is Mexico is rather nightmarish. I have come to the personal conviction that my first trip anywhere to work on anything paperwork oriented in Mexico is what I call an exploratory trip. Even though I go thinking I have everything I could possibly need, this is NEVER the case. With passports (as with driver’s licenses and other important documents), our municipality of half a million residents apparently is not large enough to qualify for an office designated to the issuance of this important document. So we have to travel. And it doesn’t seem to matter that we are presenting an expired passport. The whole process has to be done, from scratch, every single time.
Our most recent learning experience happened when son Daniel (who is a minor), flew down for Christmas last year. He entered with his Mexican passport, but when he went to leave with his U.S. passport, alas, sirens went off. Turns out because he could not prove that he entered (he was given no tourist visa), he needed official, parental permission to travel alone (in this case, to return). After missing his flight (although not his connecting flight), we re-learned another lesson. Nothing is as easy as it should be, and when you think it’s easy, well, you’re wrong!
If you missed part 1 of Bi-cultural life, click here Being Bi-Cultural–Kids Education