Thirteen minutes

June 7th, 2011

That’s how long it took to renew the Boychen’s Swiss passport and Swiss national identity card yesterday. Well, that’s how long we spent in the offices of the Amt f├╝r Migration und Personenstand des Kantons Bern Pass- und Identit├Ątskartendienst. I spent some time last week on-line filling out the forms in advance and securing an appointment via email, so that when Boychen and I arrived at the offices for our appointment all they had to do was type a few things into the computer, take his picture, punch holes in his expired documents, and give me the bill, which I then paid at the cashier. Thirteen minutes, spit-spot, in and out.

It takes a good couple of hours to renew the US documents. It’s not possible to make an appointment at the Embassy here in Bern, though I have recently learned from Cosmopolitan Friend that such a thing is possible in US Embassies located in other lands; we just seem to have a crappy system here: first come, first served. It is possible to fill out some forms in advance, but that hardly saves any time – it’s not filling out the forms that takes the time, it’s then waiting to have them looked at. If we could fill out the forms on-line, the way I can for the Swiss documents, then they could also be reviewed prior to my arrival at the Embassy. Imagine that.

Renewing the Boychen’s Swiss documents was lovely. It went so quickly that we had time to pop over to Starbucks for a coffee (me) and heisse Schoggi (him) and still be back before Small Boy finished morning Kindergarten.

Americans living abroad outside of Switzerland, I’m curious: what’s your experience with the US Embassy where you live? If you have minor children, are you allowed to make appointments to get or renew their passports?