A passport to be proud of

No, this is not a jingoistic rant on how proud I am to have a USA! USA! USA! passport. Rather, it’s a smug reference to my personal passport — which is approaching phonebook proportions.

Until recently, my passport was a standard pre-9-11 issue US passport. I traveled extensively with that document, and during its ten years of validity, I lived in Japan for more than six years and in the UAE for more than a year. In addition to the residence visas of Japan and the UAE, my old passport has visas in it from countries including Turkey, Kazakhstan, Vietnam, Iraq, Cambodia, Saudi Arabia, and many other fun places. Also fun to see is the different “generations” of visas that appear in the page — my passport saw two “generations” of China visas and three “generations” of Japanese visas, which both changed substantially over the past ten years that my passport was in use as new document security options became available.

I first added additional pages to my passport in 2003 through a process unique to the US by which additional pages are taped into the passport. (My EU, Japanese and Saudi friends find this process to be absurd and vulnerable to fraud.) These additional pages were themselves almost full with my recent regular travels across the Middle East, and my passport was expanded again in 2010.

Today, I recieved my new passport, the “big book” version with double the number of standard pages and full of holograms and hidden electronic tags. By comparison, my old passport, with none of the 21st century security features, feels quaint. But I’m not losing that document just yet. My old passport still holds my UAE visa, and because of the costs and hassle associated with getting a new visa in the new passport, the common practice is to staple the old passport to the new one. So these two passports, as shown in the photo above, is what I’ll be carrying around until the end of 2012 (or when I depart the UAE). If you look carefully, you can see both those inserts in the old passport, the front cover of which is stapled to the back cover of my new passport.

About Curzon

Lord George Nathaniel Curzon (1859 - 1925) entered the British House of Commons as a Conservative MP in 1886, where he served as undersecretary of India and Foreign Affairs. He was appointed Viceroy of India at the turn of the 20th century where he delineated the North West Frontier Province, ordered a military expedition to Tibet, and unsuccessfully tried to partition the province of Bengal during his six-year tenure. Curzon served as Leader of the House of Lords in Prime Minister Lloyd George's War Cabinet and became Foreign Secretary in January 1919, where his most famous act was the drawing of the Curzon Line between a new Polish state and Russia. His publications include Russia in Central Asia (1889) and Persia and the Persian Question (1892). In real life, "Curzon" is a US citizen from the East Coast who has been a financial analyst, freelance translator, and university professor; he is currently on assignment in Tokyo.
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6 Responses to A passport to be proud of

  1. Chirol says:

    Very nice. I thought I was special for having 2 sets of additional pages in my last passport. You win.

  2. Sir Richard Francis Burton says:

    I was very proud of my first diplomatic passport until my evil Saudi dog tore it to shreds. I was sad to replace it with the modern microchipped passport and start all over collecting visas. Of course, the last visa and entry/exit stamps came from Israel so now I need to get a new book before moving back to the region next year.

  3. Rude_Brit says:

    Alas, my passport expires this year, and while it is fairly full, it holds no candle to your overflowing behemoth… well done sir!

  4. lirelou says:

    My first issued passport when i was in the military was a Blue tourist passport which was kept in the company orderly room with our deployment readiness files. My next was also Blue, but paid for by myself to tour Central America and Colombia while stationed in Panama. The two after that were red official passports, but I also carried a Blue passport which i used for vacation trips around Latin American when I was not on official business. This eventually caused me some embarrassment in the Spanish airport of San Sebastian on one October morning in 1987. When the Guardia Civil looked at my passport (deplaning from a flight from Madrid) and could not find a stamp noting my entry into Spain. He asked me what nationality my family name was, and when I replied “Irish” he took me into a small office where it took a few hours to verify my identity and my entry on a U.S.A.F. aircraft at the Rota Naval Air Station some twelve hours earlier. I was on my way to check up on my son, then attending the University of Pau and Pays Adours just a little way up across the French border. With no further ado, they explained the hold-up, put me in a GC vehicle, drove me to Irun on the border, and explained to their French counterparts that I had a train to catch. The French border police put me in a vehicle, and about five minutes later deposited me in little train station in Irun, where an hour or so later I caught the train to Pau. Long story short, I had arrived in San Sebastian on the day after an IRA shipment of arms had been intercepted in a Libyan ship, which the ETA apparently had something to do with. Needless to say, they were anticipating some other IRA to show up, and with my name, near-native Spanish, ‘military’ build, no ready entry stamp for Spain, and entry stamps from everywhere from El Salvador and Nicaragua to Colombia, Uruguay and Argentina in my civilian passport, they likely thought that they had their man. After that, I made sure to carry both my passports. My next one was diplomatic, which they allowed me to keep when the assignment was over (my first official had been retained by the US government), but the practice then was to carry both a tourist and diplomatic passport, the latter being used for official business only. In Korea, I was back on the Red (Official) and Blue (for tourism), but the chief of personnel for the Embassy advised me to travel only on the Red Passport when visiting Vietnam. I never had any problems, but always worried that I might get in some kerfluffle, leading my agency to question why I was on the official passport while vacationing. One thing I can say is that it did get me some respect, or interest, particularly from people who were on the lookout for Americans who ‘worked at the Embassy’, generally to ask for favors. Now, in retirement, my only passport is Green (?). I guess we’re preparing for Jihad, and they’re going to win.

  5. Curzon says:

    Sir Richard, you can still go to plenty of places in the Middle East:


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