A busy day in Wien for an overpriced passport 💶
After all my fuss and avoidance in getting a new passport I spent today back in Vienna after returning yesterday. Off for a renewal application with a pile of cash and getting the photo taken. Given it is a huge sum of money compared to any other country and mine only had about two years of travel in it… well yeah, it’s ridiculous.
At least the embassy is in a nice part of Vienna, by right next to St. Charles’s Church (Karlskirche) in Karlsplatz.
I had passed here before the first time I visited Vienna briefly, back in the summer of 2011.
Of course I can’t actually take photos in the embassy itself, electronics must be switched off but I’ve seen stricter. At least it isn’t the American embassy style fortresses we also employ in a few countries. Last time I applied for a passport abroad at the Malaysian High Commission it was an effort and a half just to get in the building!
Horrendously expensive passports
I’d phoned while staying in Budapest on Monday and arranged an appointment. I first phoned the domestic service line, which unsurprisingly said call the embassy. Somehow you quickly break the bureaucratic system when you’re abroad semi-permanently, can’t do things back ‘home’ and in our case not in London or NYC. Particularly because I’m currently without a fixed address, it apparently complicates it. I have kept my current passport without alteration for now, didn’t pay the ‘priority service’ and hopefully can pick up a new one in three weeks. Still a ‘frequent traveller’ passport with double the pages plus the additional ‘outside the country’ fee wracked up a bill of $500 or >€300, surely the most expensive passport in the world by nearly double. Most other similar countries the price is between half and a third of what we pay, for example… New Zealand. To make it worse they will be raising prices again soon. Next time it will be probably cheaper to just buy a citizenship elsewhere.
Here’s the supposed chart (which isn’t entirely right of course)… by today’s exchange rate I paid US$355, and yeah it’s only going to get worse. It wouldn’t surprise me to find fake passports on the black market much cheaper. We saw fake Australian IDs for $50 in Indonesia and you could probably do better on whatever has replaced Silk Road.
I also called the electoral commission on Monday since there is generally mandatory voting, or else be fined because you know they love their money. You can fax (📠… yeah, also ridiculous I know) a form if you’re generally abroad and can’t make it but fortunately this could be done over the phone now. If it coincides with when I’m getting the passport all good otherwise nothing I can do, again without a mailing address.
I did try to get my haircut too today without little luck, last minute and all. I was able to pull off a minor miracle with it for the passport photo, which they recommended using a shop just opposite the Vienna State Opera for. In the slim case this double sized passport lasts more than a few years even with all the residencies/frequent entry/stamp avoiding privileges I can muster then at least I might look young in my photo one day. Hair loss clearly isn’t going to be a thing.
Back to Bratislava
After all that I headed back to the hotel I stayed at last night, adjacent to Vienna Hauptbahnhof. I picked up my bags and got a ticket for the frequent commuter train to Bratislava. Many people commute from the east of the city or live just over the border. Was going to sit down and eat but a train was leaving directly above me in a few minutes so I comfortably strolled on before it departed. Back to Slovakia!