Rambling Reporting on Russian Passports
Here I will answer your questions as best I can, noting that your mileage may vary. This is an addendum to my earlier blog posting on the process, which is more detailed (http://www.destinationsdreamsanddogs.com/renewing-your-childs-russian-passport/).
1. If using a Passport Service to do the paperwork in Russian for you (usually around $500 for the privilege), your child does not have to appear in person at the Embassy. However, this is only good for a 5-year Russian Passport , not a 10-year Russian Passport which must be done in person.
2. Surprisingly, photos are not necessary. There is now a photographic “kabinyet” in the Passport Division of the Embassy, a photo booth similar to those at the beach, or in shopping malls. When your handler disappears to work on your paperwork, they ask that you listen for your name. After fifteen minutes or so, a speaker booms out your last name, “Bartologimignano…” with first and middle or patronymic names to follow. You proceed to the booth, close the curtain, sit on the stool and the camera moves this way and that. Flash! Flash! A photo is captured in both color and black-and-white. This wild-eyed, surprised look with your hair crunched flat by your winter hat will now be on your Russian Passport for the next 10 years.
I wish they had warned us. I thought the photo might be for their internal purposes, but no.
Thankfully, the boys were looking sharp, as usual.
They did take one of our color photos of each teen “just in case” and attached it to the file.
3. The “applicant” is the parent (choose one parent), even though the parent is not exactly applying for the Russian Passport. The child is not the applicant. For some reason, the Embassy took my photocopies of both Benedetto’s and my passports in my extensive pile of “just in case” documents. When I tried to remove my passport photocopy out of the pile, our processor waved it back in, mentioning that it’s always better to have more, rather than less. I can only imagine what they’re doing with my vital information.
4. The new Russian Passports may be scanned and instantly, every border guard knows everything about each citizen. They are modernizing the document and extremely proud of the breakthroughs they have instituted. Never mind that we can do the same with any supermarket loyalty card here….
5. The expiration of the Russian Passport does not affect citizenship. We discussed that our children were none too pleased with President Putin and his rulings against orphans who wished to be adopted to America. Could refusing to renew the passport affect their citizenship?
Nyet. They’ve got you for life, like it or not.
She explained it thusly: Until the age of 18, the child may or may not have a current passport. But if the child has been “registered” at the Embassy, this is stamped in their original passport and their citizenship is not in question later on, passport or no passport. After the age of 18, they really need to keep up their Russian Passport, mostly for their own benefit of travel. But again, even as an adult, all they need to do in case of a lapsed passport is to bring in the expired one, show the registration stamp, and begin the application process for a new passport.
6. The application has a number attached to it. Currently, passports are being issued within a month or two in the DC office. Yet, they always warn in writing that it could take up to six months. While waiting, one can use the bar code number’s last six digits to check online regarding the passport’s status.
It’s a kinder, gentler face at the DC Embassy, compared with Putin’s sabre-rattling. As in all things Russian, it does help if you can say certain basics in Russian, such as “I have an appointment with Ludmila Serge’evna for 3:00 today for passport renewal.” They will ask your family name, ask if you’re sure it’s for today, ask you to enter the waiting room where Russian TV is playing, and you’ll be lucky if someone emerges by 3:25.
All in all, the passport processors are very understanding even if you have one thing or another is in the wrong slot on the application. They also ask that you write for them clearly in English the child’s name, since their auto-translators mess up the spelling in transliteration to English.
During the hour that we were there, more than a dozen applicants came and went, with three clerks arriving and tending to them in turn at desks with chairs. Naturally, we had another appointment following this which made us glance repeatedly and nervously at our watches, and put us under no little pressure to get going. But the overall experience was pleasant, and it made me chuckle inwardly to see our two guys, once so young and innocent, now world-savvy, wearing leather jackets, and looking like they really belonged in the Russki Mir.
This was their heritage, even as it was mine, but perhaps it would be their future, as well.
————-Tags: documents needed for Russian passport, Embassy of the Russian Federation in Washington DC, renewing Russian passports, required documents Russian passport renewal, Russian adoption issues, updating Russian passports