Thursday, November 27, 2014
Renewing my Passport at the Canadian Embassy in Qatar
Yesterday I went to the new Canadian Embassy here in Qatar to renew my passport. It's great to finally have an embassy here in Qatar, before you had to either courier things to the embassy in Kuwait or wait until a counselor officer came once a month and set up shop in the lobby of the Sheraton Hotel (no I’m not kidding, I visited once and he was sitting at one of the tables in the lobby with a little Canadian flag on a stand on the table.) My Qatari friends told me I should've taken a picture cause they found it really amusing that a big nation like Canada would do that.
Here’s some things you need to know about the Embassy and renewing your passport.
1) The Embassy is located on the 30th floor of Tornado Tower in West Bay. If you want to renew your passport you go there. If you want to apply for a visa to visit Canada you do not go there, apparently there is a centre called VFS in the Jaidah Square building on Al Matar Street that will handle visa applications.
2) The Embassy's hours are from 9am to 12 on Monday and Wednesday only. Yes, that means it's open only six hours a week. Six hours a week. I think it would be a bit nice if they could expand those hours -- most Canadians here in Qatar have to work you know. And have you tried getting to West Bay weekday mornings?
3) There is a visitor parking lot at the Tower, just look for the entrance with the barrier and the security guard out front. If you tell them you are there to visit the Embassy they will take your name down and then let you in. But if the parking lot is full then you will have to wait until a car leaves before the security guard will let you in. You don't have much of a choice, good luck finding parking anywhere else nearby. Luckily it's a decent-sized parking lot (maybe 60-70 spots) so someone should be leaving after a few minutes. I waited there around 10 minutes, and that was with two cars ahead of me.
4) Passport renewal -- there is now the option to get a ten-year passport. I fully applaud this move by the Government as having to renew a passport every five years was annoying. You’ll pay about $70 more but it's worth it as far as I'm concerned.
It’s also easier to renew now. You can get a form here http://passport.gc.ca/info/index.aspx?lang=eng®ion=international
, fill it out, and print it. If you qualify for the simplified process you just need to give the contact details of two people who the Embassy can contact to verify your identity, you no longer need to have two lawyers or other professionals sign the application.
You have to pay with a Visa or Mastercard. No more certified cheques!
While the limited hours and parking were annoying once you actually get in the building everything went smoothly. Once security let me into the Embassy I only waited a few minutes before a lady took my passport application and documents, double-checked it, processed my credit card for the fee, and that was it. My new passport will be ready in 28 days.