Posted by: nastylittletruths | July 14, 2009

Immigration Office’s Revolving Door

I finally had my passport application appointment this week and what should have taken an hour or two at the most turned out to be a six hour affair… Before I go on, however, this was more a fault of the Registrar General’s office than the (I admit) very professional and efficient men and women at the passport office. I’ve read the horror stories in the newspapers and I was filled with anxiety as my appointment day got closer.

But back to my story… I reached a few minutes after the beginning of my allotted one hour slot and based on the numbering system there were 17 people before me. Not bad – I did reach late. The office was clean and well laid out but the security guards were a bit too exuberant. There was a very long row of chairs in front of the booth to collect passports yet the few people who were waiting were not allowed to separate. The guard insisted that they sit next to each other and to me that did not make any sense.

When I was called to the ‘pre-qualification’ booth where an officer will go through the paperwork before sending me on to another officer to do the final vetting, payment and picture, the anxiety of a few days was well deserved. It turned out that my spanking new electronic birth certificate misspelt my mother’s maiden name by one letter as opposed to what was on my last passport application. Drama… My fault that I missed it (but then again, I could not remember what I did six years ago!) so what do I do now. The officer suggested I get an affidavit witnessed and signed by a JP so that I can complete the process and if I get it done today and return by 3:00 pm, I wouldn’t have any problems.

So off I went to the nearest Commissioner of Affidavits and I called my sister to bring my mother to sign the affidavit by the next hour. When I reached the Commissioner’s office however, I was in for a shock – the line was past the door and I saw at least six people who were in front of me at the passport office there. While I was in the line at least four more came… It took me three hours to get the affidavit and my mother had to wait in the car (with the AC on of course) with my sister for at least an hour until it was ready to sign. At TT$120 a pop, business was booming for this guy!

Now I am sure you know at least one person who has a tale to tell about the electronic birth certificate and the attendant horrors. Why oh why lord when these people make a mistake it is our burden to correct. The Registrar General’s office, a government office, is single-handedly responsible for making Commissioner of Affidavits in this country very wealthy people. And why should this be? What pray tell is the difference in them getting it right and have it on record forever as opposed to an attachment that is purportedly sworn to as the truth? I’ll tell you… public service idiocy. So my mother’s maiden name is spelt incorrectly in the new certificate but they can’t fix it, but a paid sum to a private individual does? What’s wrong with this picture? In all honesty I prefer to pay the Registrar General and get a correct certificate plusit’s correct in their database rather than a piece of paper that is not officially recorded anywhere.

Anyway, I was able to return to the passport office and as soon as the officer spotted me she called me in and sorted out my application. I commended her for the effort she made to help me and thanked her. Like I said at the beginning, I was pleasantly surprised at the professionalism and it goes a long way in changing my perception of the public service and my people in general. I just have to wait three months to get the MRP, but at least I can travel with my current one as it was returned to me.

If only the Registrar General’s office can get on board… Over to you Minister Taylor.



  1. the devil is in the details…

    ? when you ‘applied’ for your ‘new’ electronic birth certificate didn’t you spell your mother’s maiden name correctly? I’m sure you did… but they simply put the info they had on record… also next time you need an affidavit there’s an old man who does it for $10 in Tunapuna…

    truth is if the GoRTT cleans up its acts then alot of people will be put out of business… if they have properly paved roads… who will need to visit the Tyre Shop to fix flats or bent rims every month?

    i’m not looking forward to my appointment cause they may find an error on my marriage certificate… but what has that got to do with anything?

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