Thursday, January 26, 2012

Dubious documents

"This passport was issued a few days ago. Why was that?"

Um. Because I needed a new one? Seriously, what sort of question was that? And how did I answer it without sounding like I was talking to a two year old and not a burly Canadian border guard?

I shrugged and tried to arrange my features into something that less implicative of 'WTF you moron?!'

"It needed to be renewed over Christmas."

There look, I spanned that out to a seven word sentence none of which were hamsters or elderberries.

"Are you gainfully employed in the UK?"

"No, I work in Japan."

I instantly regretted my words. The passport the border control guard held was a pristine virgin document, unsullied by any hands except those of the country from which is was forged and ....

... look, the point is it didn't contain a Japanese visa.

This wasn't a problem was far as Japan were concerned. In my backpack was my dog-eared cancelled passport which contained the still in-date visa for my job overseas. Unlike for American visas which have to be paid like a high-profile ransom to be transferred between passports, Japanese visas could chill in the old document until their own expiry date rolled around. The problem was, how much talking would I have to do to convince this border guard of that? Especially given his experience outside of Canadian bureaucracy would probably be with the neighbouring country of .... yeah. You see the problem.

I braced myself for a long hard wait. I was pretty sure that, had this been America, I probably wouldn't be making my flight out in a week's time. I'd be held in the country indefinitely JUST TO BE SURE I didn't stay there forever.

The border guard blinked at me. "Japan?"

I managed a tight smile. "Yeah."

A Brit coming from the UK into Canada with a empty passport, claiming she worked in Japan.

The guy burst out laughing and tossed my passport back at me. "Through you go!"

Maybe no one would ever make up a story that crazy. Maybe he decided he never wanted to know. I love you, Canada.


  1. Great story. I deal with passports everyday at work and never tire of peoples stories of dealing with immigration officials

  2. Hehe -- I think border control has provided me with more blog posts than any other source!

  3. Incidentally, I really like your icon picture -- that is one of your paintings, isn't it?