Thursday, August 23, 2012

Renewing an American Passport in Istanbul, Turkey 101


I recently paid a visit to the US Consulate in Istanbul. My passport will expire next March and I will not have much time before then to start the renewal, so I started early. This is the my second visit the the American Consulate in Istanbul. I visited the consulate six and a half years ago when I got married. The Turkish government required a form from the consulate stating I was eligible for marriage. Just like the first time I visited the consulate, the process for a passport renewal was a breeze.

The American Consulate has an in-depth process of the passport renewal process on their web page here. I'll take a moment to describe my experience
at the consulate. First of all, you must have an appointment. You can make an appointment online via the consulates website. I booked my appointment a week before coming to Istanbul and there were few openings available. If you are like me, and you have your valid, unaltered passport in hand, then you will only have to bring the following to your appointment: original passport, one passport photo, a photocopy of the bio page found in your passport and the completed DS-82 form.

The actual process for me only took 4 or 5 minutes as I had prepared everything before hand. Unfortunately, I waited about 30 minutes for the previous appointments to finish up. Since the office was air conditioned, I didn't mind.

After paying $110.00 on my American Visa card, then 15 Turkish Lira for UPS to ship the new passport to my school, I was finished. Super easy!

The American Consulate Istanbul
The American Consulate in Istanbul is massive! After you enter the first door, you must leave all electronics at the front desk, including cell phones. I found my way to the American services section quite easily. I was given a number and was asked to sit in the American Citizen waiting room. The area where non American Citizens wait is pretty large. I think I counted 8 or 9 windows where consulate staff were actively working with Turks and I assume many other people from all over the world.

I understand that the US does not make it easy for Turks to receive visas to visit the US. As a result, many of the people that I saw appeared as if they were going in for a job interview. Most everyone was very well dressed, well organized and I'm sure had butterflies in their tummy. The consulate doesn't do a very good job about putting people at ease. With the 3 inch thick bullet proof glass and the fact that there is ZERO privacy, I would feel a bit nervous about the whole experience, too.



In the end, I would say that the process of renewing your passport in person is very easy. I do know that one may renew their passport by mail, but since I didn't want to go through the process of getting a cashiers check from my Turkish bank and fumble with the mail, I figured an in-person visit would be easier. Plus, it was an excuse to visit Istanbul for a few days!

2 comments:

  1. Thanks a whole lot Matt, the consulate website has missing &/or contradictory information--& tells you something different from the automatic phone message on the same topic (renewing a passport). just one question--how many days after you submitted your documents did you get the new one? again, thanks so much for this, tracy

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    1. Hi Tracy. I got my passport in the mail within a couple of days. You have to pre-pay the shipping costs at the UPS (I think it was UPS) kiosk inside the embassy. It was a relatively painless process compared to most of the Turkish government processes. :)

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