Now, ten years later, I have to go through the
process all over again however, this time I have to do it from foreign soil.
That complicates matters quite a bit.
no longer reside within the borders of the United States, I
was now required to
travel to the U.S. Embassy in San Jose, a 3 1/2 - 4 hour
way) over mountains and a new highway with a very
dangerous and deadly reputation.
followed many of the recent reports about the nightmarish and
horrendous customer service provided at Costa Rica's U.S.
Embassy, I was not looking forward to this upcoming
passport renewal quagmire/adventure.
Look AT The
Birdie And Smile...
New pictures will be necessary to
complete your renewal. You have two choices,
bring new pictures with you or have new one's taken at the
Embassy. For only 1000 colones (2.00), you can walk
up to the Fuji Camera kiosk just as you clear
They will take your picture, print and trim it to
the required size. The other option allows you to control the quality of your image
seeking the services of an outside photographer. That's
what I opted for and it only cost me 2500 ($5.00).
I've seen the Fuji pix taken at the Embassy and I'm
glad I went the route I did. The quality of
the Embassy pictures
are on a par with the shabbiest of police mug shots.
Perception and Concern
However, I was pleasantly surprised to find
that reality trumps perception and internet BS. The entire
process turned out to be not only highly efficient but
delivered in a very professional manner. I was in and out of
the Embassy in less than 45 minutes.
The long drive from Guanacaste to San Jose
was a piece of cake. The traffic seemed quite light,
probably because I was traveling on a Tuesday. The
recently repaired Caldera Highway was in pristine condition
which allowed me to buzz along at 90 kmh. My GPS lead
me with deadly precision right to the front door of the U.S.
Embassy. There a man guided me to a parking spot just
40 meters from the front door.
Security is extremely tight at the Embassy,
as it should be. I had to turn over everything metal
or electronic to Embassy Security before they would let me
in. That even included my belt. I recommend you
leave stuff like cell phones, cameras, iPods, loose change,
securely locked in your car before entering the Embassy.
Once everything is secured you are directed inside.
But after fours of driving I needed relief and made a bee
line for "los baņos."
Now, feeling 1000% better, I made my
way to a small machine that generates "next in line"
numbers. I pressed the appropriate button,
retrieved my ticket number (D-415) and took my seat
in the queue. I was pleasantly surprised to
look up and see the sign flashing "."
In less than 15 minutes I was called
up to the window where I was greeted by a friendly
Costa Rican man who spoke near perfect English.
After exchanging a few pleasantries, he instructed
me to give him my old passport, the completed
renewal form and my new photograph.
As the agent began reviewing my
documents I saw him smile. Then, from behind the
glass cage, his voice blasting through the security
speakers, boldly commented on just how fat I
was ten years ago. The folks in the waiting
room, as well as your trusty writer, shared the
humor as well.
Minutes later I was presented with an
invoice and instructed to go to the cashier's window
just three feet to my left. I paid my $110
dollars and was given my receipt.
The U.S. Embassy will not use Costa
Rica's postal system to send new or renewed
passports to individual homes or even post office
boxes. Instead, the U.S. Embassy offers
is to have DHL securely deliver the passport to any
of it's satellite facilities located throughout Costa
In my case, I paid just 3000
colones ($6.00) to have my passport delivered to
the DHL office in Liberia, just a short 30 minute
drive from my house. That sure as hell was
better than another 12 hour day driving to San Jose.
Unfortunately Canadians aren't as lucky.
The Canadian Embassy requires all passports be
pickup either in person or by a previously designated
and authorized third party. That
sucks, but those are the rules.
This Just In...
In less than two weeks from the date
I first traveled to San Jose to renew my passport,
DHL sent a text message to my cell phone saying my
new passport was ready for pickup. All I had
to do was bring a photocopy of my old passport and
my DHL receipt. Two minutes later I walked out
with my new, 10 year passport. Sweet!!!!
information you would ever need about
the passport renewal process can be
found on the
It also includes downloadable forms.
Save yourself the trouble, DO NOT TRY
AND COMPLETE THE ONLINE VERSIONS OF THE