The blog is not finished! But after the Theft (yes, capital letters), the want/need to update the blog took second fiddle to dealing with the Theft and just finishing the trip sans computer. Since being home, it's been hard to get that motivation to complete it. But I will. Ever so slowly. Please be patient!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Bureaucratic Three-Ring Circus

Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen! And welcome to the main event! You have just witnessed the amazing, and talented, Aussie Thief who made an entire laptop and passport disappear in front of dozens of people in a McDonald’s Restaurant and beside a police station no less!

street view

And now, feast your eyes on the Commonwealth Bureaucracy! It’s elegant, beautiful, but oh so frustrating.

First, to begin the process, I had to let the Government of Canada Passport Office know that my passport had been stolen. That resulted in my missing passport being deactivated as well as the following email to be sent to me:


I took the “Statutory Declaration Concerning the Stolen Passport” to the Richmond Police Station and had it filled out. Easy enough. But looks can be deceiving.

My first little inkling that this would be anything but easy was when the woman on the phone informed me that I would have to go to the High Commission of Canada in Canberra to hand my application in. For one, there’s no consulate in Melbourne (wait, huh?!), and no simple consulate would do anyways. I had to go to the High Commission to hand it in. I had never had plans to go to Canberra, but whatever.

Next, I needed photos taken. The photos I had that I had been using for my Visas were not sufficient as they were the wrong size, so I decided (stupidly) to take Passport Canada’s suggestion of using the “photographer’s in [my] area who have advised [their] office they are able to print photographs to these specifications”. I’m in a foreign country, I really didn’t feel – at the time at least – like tempting fate by going against what is suggested. So I check out the photographers that are listed:


There was only one in Melbourne that I could get to (no longer on this site), so off I went. It was downtown, in what looks like one of the ritziest malls in Melbourne. The studio was sandwiched between a watch shop and a diamond store.

That should’ve been my first sign.

Price for four photographs? $60 Australian ($64.41 Canadian). I was told to come back in two days to pick them up.

Two days later I go. And he’s closed. I call the number on the door. He’s in the field doing a wedding shoot. If I had come three hours earlier he would’ve been there. Come back on Monday. My bus is leaving Monday though.

Screw it. Off to a Kodak store. Show the clerk the instructions on what the photos need to be like, pay my AUD$17.80 for photos that I hoped were correct.

Now, in Canada, when I applied for my passport initially, I used my sister as my guarantor. At the time there was no restriction on whom your guarantor could be other than they needed to have known you for a minimum of 5 years and have a Canadian Passport. Well, lucky for me, I had Steve right here in Australia. Instead of needing a police officer to sign the “Statutory Declaration in Lieu of Guarantor” and have four references, I could use Steve as my Guarantor and only need two references. It was off to Canberra now!

My first order of business on that Monday morning was to go to the Post Office to get a money order to pay for the new passport. Even though the website itself says it should cost C$100 for a new passport . . .


. . . the email above said A$100. An $8 difference. Not much, but it’s the principal! Then, being a money order, tack on another A$8.

From hostel to Post Office for Money Orderpost office

The Passport was already going to cost me nearly C$20 more than if I were to get it in Canada. But as my mom so eloquently put it, “When you’re overseas and they know you need it to leave, they pretty much got you by the balls.” j

So, application and forms in hand, photos – signed by the photographer and Steve –, and my money order, I took off for the High Commission of Canada. Being Canberra and a seemingly sporadic and expensive transit system, I chose to walk.

Post Office to High Commission – 3.1kmmap to consulate

I got to the High Commission and started to hand everything in to the person working there. Everything was fine until he saw the photos and form signed by Steve.

“Is he a lawyer?”
”No, he just works in the firm. He’s their IT guy or something like that.”
“Oh, to be a guarantor, they have to be a lawyer, doctor, or police officer.”
” , , , Oh.”

So I guess I did need to get the “Statutory Declaration in Lieu of Guarantor” filled out. Where is the nearest Police Station?

High Commission to Police Station and back – 6.6km round tripto police

The woman at the police station was real nice and filled out the form and signed the back of one of the photos without hesitation. Back to the High Commission for hopefully the last time I went. Thankfully, everything seemed to be in order. And then the man at the High Commission told me something that, for the first time in this entire, miserable scenario, was actually in my favour.

“We can ship the passport to you anywhere in the country.”

I won’t have to double back and come back to Canberra.


“Please, send it to the Consulate in Sydney.”

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