Passport Lost

When you lose your (British) passport in Slaka, you phone the Embassy who give very clear instructions: report the loss at Capital Police Station. They will make out a report form that you will need for renewing your visa. Then download and complete a C1 Passport Application Form. Bring the form, two photographs (one of them countersigned) and the fee to the Embassy. Renewal takes ten working days. Sounds easy. Here's what really happens:
You report to the Capital Police Station and after queuing for half an hour they tell you you should have gone first to Airport Immigration for a Certificate of Entry. You go to Airport Immigration where (after queuing) they tell you you should have gone to Main Immigration, a Government building about seven miles away. You go there and eventually get directed (after much queuing) to the correct office where no-one seems remotely interested in deciding whose job it is to be helpful. Finally, you reach a tall friendly Moroccan guy who explains that they can only authorise the letter, but it first has to be typed up in the typing pool. You have to go back out, across the car-park to the unmarked portacabins, wherein sit fourteen men (you'll have plenty time to count them), in fourteen booths, each with two ancient manual typewriters (one Arabic, one English), a stack of blank forms for every occasion, and a clamour of customers waving papers. As there's nothing resembling a queuing system, you choose the smallest clamour (no.6) and muscle in with the best. When you finally get your typist's divided attention and explain the requirement, he sends you to clamour no.1 where it all starts over. After about an hour, clutching your typescript, you stagger back across the car-park and up the stairs where, fortunately, your friendly Moroccan has not gone to lunch. End of Part 1.


  1. Try getting a Power of Attorney letter in Russian witnessed... sorry the post is so long...


    8.00am: Arrive at British Embassy

    8:05am: Searched, mobile phone and portable hard drive removed

    8:10am: Ticket 008 in the consular section

    8:25am: 008 flashes up on screen. Enter booth. Explain that I need my signature witnessing on a Russian legal document, which, as per earlier visit, now has an attached and stamped English translation, as requested.

    8:27am: Confusion of consular official.

    8:29am: Senior consular official arrives. Explain again.

    8:30am: SCO explains that they can only witness my signature on the English translation.

    8:31am: I explain, with the forced smile that undertakers give corpses, that the Russian court are only interested in my signature on the RUSSIAN document, and that their attesting to something in English will only work if I then have the document translated back into Russian, and attested once more.

    8:31am: I am asked to pay Dhs.135

    8:32am: SCO volunteers that they could put a 'stamp of recognition' at the bottom of the original document.

    8:33am: I agree, whatever a 'stamp of recognition' is. I don't know and I suspect neither will the Russian authorities.

    8:35am: Entertain a fantasy about making my own offical stamps out of cut potatoes and an ink pad.

    8:36am: Passport taken away, and photocopied when I ask if I can take it away with me.

    8:37: 'Come back tomorrow between 9 and 10'

    8:38am: 'Can't I just take it away with me now? You've seen me sign it?'

    8:39am: 'No."

    8:42am: Retrieve mobile and portable hard drive.

    8:43am: Whimper to myself and look for a cab.


    10:00am: Return to Embassy.

    10:05am: Searched, mobile phone and portable hard drive removed.

    10:30am: Collect document.

    10:40am: Cab to Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

    11:00am Collect ticket and wait my turn.

    11:30am: Present ticket and document, to be stamped, “You have to go to Ministry of Justice to get stamp from there, first”.

    11:35am: Hunt for cab.

    12:00pm Arrive Ministry of Justice. “You have to go to Ministry of Foreign Affairs to get stamp from there, first”.

    12:01pm: Explain that I have just come from there.
    “The problem is that the original document and the translation are stapled together”.
    “That’s how the British Embassy insisted I present it to them.”
    “They have to be separate, one stamped by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and then the other one stamped by us.”
    “Can’t I just separate them, and you stamp the appropriate one?”

    12:20pm: Look for cab.

    12:25pm: Call Russian lawyer.
    “Don’t bother about all that, just send me the document.”

  2. That sounds about par for the course. There's an old saying that when England gave India bureaucracy they raised it to an art form. But having worked in India and the Middle East, I have no doubt who are the real masters.


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