Recovering from my Montreal experience is an entirely different and more motivated effort. I still needed that official Visa, still needed to get my medical check, get all my vaccinations and finally sign the contract. Mind you there was extreme pressure to get all my paper work 2 weeks prior to my scheduled take off date of October 28th, thus I was in a bit of a rush. What had to be done?:
- Scotia Bank Account
- Medical Exam
Sounds simple right? No… It actually was not, after my wallet and passport was stolen getting my passport before or on October 14th would prove to be, well what I thought a challenge. There is a sort of blacklist Passport Canada issues to people who “loose” their passports in however fashion. I was, to my disappointment now on that list. This I should note will not affect getting a replacement, but does add to the cost indirectly. Please note that I had also lost all my IDs and my passport copy/police report was insufficient evidence of who I actually was. Clearly I needed to get ID first. It turns out this wasn’t too difficult. I am notorious of never carrying government issued ID on multiple occasions, but have for some weird reason and always coincidently carry my Tax return stub and Social Insurance Number. I would like to point out that I was not born in Canada so access to birth certificates as such would prove extremely inconvenient to acquire. Luckily I still had my Canadian citizen card that I got in 1992, which by the way looks nothing like me. Please note that in order to get your new passport you have to do the following:
- Report the Passport lost or stolen to Passport Canada at 1-800-567-6868
- Report the Passport lost or stolen to The Police
- Complete the Statutory Declaration concerning a lost, stolen, damaged, destroyed or inaccessible Canadian passport (Form PPTC 203)
- Complete the Adult General Passport Application ( PPTC 153)*
*Not the Simplified Renewal Form (PPTC 054), if you lost your original passport in one way or another, you have to start from scratch. It sucks, but it is how it is.
My Monday, October 3rd consisted of the following getting my passport photos taken, getting my Alberta issued ID and finally apply for my passport. Now I have the tendency of always going to the same places, first out of convenience and secondly out of habit. I always, always go to the same photo place to take my passport or visa photos. My place of choice is Speed Photos Ltd. which is conveniently downtown, where I usually lurk, it takes 10 – 15 minutes, so the amount of time it takes me to drink my Timmy’s XL DD. I also love the photographer he is this awesome older gentleman who is super friendly, makes you feel like you’re at home. Out of convenience I then walked to The Licensing Company about two blocks away at the Bow Valley Square building. After waiting in line some 15 minutes I was served. The lady asked me for Government photo issued ID, I found this rather redundant as I was there precisely for that reason. I had had both my Citizenship card and my SIN card and both had my full last name. She proceeds to ask me for proof of my current address, luckily I had been in this case before and had brought a tax stub with me, you can use either a “Notice of Assessment” or “The GST/HST Credit” stub; both are issued by Canada Revenue Agency, and somehow valid proof. Prior to my photos and paying I asked the lady where I could get a commissioner of oaths to sign my Statutory declaration form, as the government needs to know that it was really me who was reporting and buying a new passport, makes you wonder the whole purpose of having a Canadian Citizenship card and two pieces of government issued photo ID. She said, with a smile “we have one in house”, perfect, convenient and relatively cheap I thought. After paying, having my photo taken and waiting for the commissioner to put her signature on my declaration, I got an “Application for an Alberta Identification Card Receipt”, basically a rectangle sheet of paper. I was stunned and asked her where my ID was, she said that I’d get it in the mail in 10 business days. Before freaking out, mind you I needed photo ID to get my passport, she was like oh you can use the Receipt in lieu of the actually ID card. What a relief I thought so I was off to the Passport Canada office in the Harry Hays Building (now currently in the first floor).
After waiting in line for 10 minutes I was at the counter handing in all my paper work. I decided not to get the 48 page passport as I would normally and opted for the typical 24 pages, being 5 dollars cheaper. I had explained my situation to the Passport Canada agent and she said that the passport would be ready by October 11th, clearly it seemed that I had to wait, after laughing my frustrations away about my work visa she said this “look, I can do this for you”, she starts to scribble on the application, once done she responded “come by this Friday at noon, your passport will be ready, does this help?”, off course at this point I am ecstatic barely a week into passportlessness and I should have it before my deadline. So I was like “YES!”, while still maintaining a sense of cool and calm. Clearly luck was on my side that week! Attached are my incurred costs, just in case you find yourself in a similar situation:
- Passport Photos $8.99
- Commissioner of Oaths $20.00 (Price varies)
- Operator Licence Application $45.45
- Canadian Passport (24 Pages) $87.00
- Express Service $30.00
Sadly I had wasted some $191.44 on my mission to get my passport, how quaint. But the costs didn’t stop here, no sir. The next step was to have multiple injections on my arms, yes, vaccines. If you’re in Calgary I suggest going to the Sheldon M. Chumir Health Centre – Travel Health Services, they were absolutely wonderful people, actually a great memory given the poking (not the good kind) circumstances. I was only supposed to get my Hepatitis A&B plus the Typhoid, BUT my nurse decided to conveniently remind me how under protected I was so I got the following:
- Hepatitis A (Avaxim)
- Typhoid (Vivotif)
- Yellow Fever (YF-VAX)
- Measles /Rubella (MMRII)
“We” decided to opt out the Hepatitis B shot due to my low risk in acquiring it, and because I am very frugal. In all my travels I had never taken shots for anything, in fact the only thing I ever carried was what I call the “wonder drug” which is normally called Imodium. I love Imodium, especially in Latin America and due to their delicious street food! What was bad about the time I got the shots was that I was starting to feel sick earlier in the day, my throat hurt and my head was throbbing, great I thought. My nurse told me that I may react to the live vaccines, like Measles and Typhoid (I think). Yellow Fever is most definitely not required where I will be or even plan to be. BUT as my clever nurse mentioned that when I go to Guatemala for our water and sanitation project (assist2develop.org) that customs will need to see my Yellow Fever certificate, as Guatemala is very anal about Yellow Fever cotangents. Either way after like 5 seconds of pinches and me trying to photograph the whole thing I had to pay the bill. Tetanus, Measles and the Flu are free, Yes! Hepatitis A, Typhoid and Yellow Fever are not, No! Each costing $74.00, $68.00 and $101.00 respectively, albeit the receipt never added up to that. Oh well, guess luck was on my side.
After the vaccinations and due to convenience and affordability of transactions I finally abandoned my decade long friendship with Presidents Choice Financial and opted for Scotia Bank, and the big perks: I get a scene card, with 1000 points, that is a free movie (Puss and Boots anyone?) and free transactions from Scotia Banks in Peru, that’s right, no more stupid 5-8 dollar fees for taking out cash abroad or using my debit card. Albeit I don’t know how much opportunity I’ll have using the latter. I had asked my Scotia Bank representative Jen if she knew where I could get a medical exam. You see my family doctor, well I don’t ever go to the doctor so after 10 years they discarded my records, plus he only books a month in advance, clearly if I ever get deadly ill, my doctor is not an option. So Jen recommended Medisys, only a comfortable 2 blocks away. When I arrived they told me that they usually deal with corporate packages (which I was no longer corporate anything), after I told them my situation the nice lady told me to wait for a bit as she went to speak to a doctor. She comes back and says “yes, yes we can do this for you”, so luck was still on my side, perhaps life was paying me back for the week in Montreal? Probably not since I had to cough up the money from the skies in order to pay for all these costs. Regardless I made the appointment for the following Monday and was still waiting on that passport. The following days I felt like I was on my death bed, it hurt to walk, talk and even think, I had caught some sort of flu, or the Typhoid oral vaccine was getting to me.
Friday decides to come along and after a lovely tea and biscuit break with a special person I headed to the Passport Canada office, and alas I had my brand new passport! My excitement kind off died when I saw this on Page 5 on my passport as an “observation”:
***THIS PASSPORT REPLACES PASSPORT NO
XXXXXXXX ISSUED AT CALGARY REPORTED
A definite confirmation of my blacklistedness at Passport Canada. Once the weekend ended and after I had sent scans of all my paper work, it was time to go to Medisys for that Medical Exam. I told the doctor that I needed some form signed to let WUSC and CECI know that I was fit to travel to Peru for at least a year. After some deep breaths, heart thumping and a couple of tickles on my liver and kidneys I was good to go. $131.25 and 15 minutes worth of tickling later I was done, who was the clear winner here? I don’t know. I definitely recommend this place though for its convenient, fast and also really people oriented personnel. No offence to my family doctor. Lessons of that week were: Don’t loose your wallet, your passport or it will cost a pretty penny, always be nice and even though everything is expensive it always seems to be conveniently close (geographically) to one another and always answer no thank you at least three times!