January 11, 2014

On Passports

Went to renew our Dutch passports this morning.
 
This requires quite some coordination, as Dutch law stipulates that both parents sign off on the passport of a minor. Try and get my family in one place at the same time at 8:30 in the morning. But I succeeded. Three high tech passports (they work with fingerprints these  days) for 173,000 LBP each, valid for 5 years, and which will guarantee us access to just about any country in the world, and allow me to live and work in any of the 26 Schengen countries; We feature #3 on the Henley & Partners Visa Restriction Index!   
 
As coincidence has it, I also have to renew our Lebanese passports next Saturday. I am not looking forward to that exercise. Any dealings with Lebanese government institutions are nerve-wrecking operations.
 
Yet this Lebanese passport requires a lot more money; 300,000, instead of 173,000. The lady at the Dutch embassy was quite surprised at the price, since the Lebanese passport isn’t that advanced; they still do not work with biometric passports, even though it was in the planning (well, what else is new, I hear you say?).
 
So what do you get for the extra 126,000 LBP, you ask?
 
 You get a full body search, ugly stares and an ‘al yamin’ (to the right), at every airport.
 
Only the inhabitants of these countries (Sri Lanka, Sudan, Nepal, Eritrea, Palestinian Territory, Pakistan, Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan) enjoy a ‘lesser freedom of travel’, according to the Henley & Partners Visa Restriction Index than we do.
You don’t say.
 
I should not complain; I have a legal document to get out if need be, and on top of that, I have the financial means to do so. Hundreds of thousands of Lebanese, Syrians and Palestinians would die for a document like that, to go to a place that guarantees them to very basic necessities of life; a safe place to live, a decent education for their kids and food on the table. 

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have not renewed my Lebanese passport for many years.
You have a Dutch passport Why do you need a Lebanese one save your money .

Anonymous said...

Sometimes, you don't want the customs officials in one place to know that you've been somewhere else. It's not that you've done anything wrong, it's just that there can be bad relationships between two countries, and you don't want them to take it out on you. This is especially applicable / useful to people who travel a lot... for example, a journalist.

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