Mad Dash to Prevent the Paw-Paw From Hitting the Fan (Part 2)

Last week I wrote about the problems I had with my plane ticket to Spain. After being told by an Iberia Airlines agent that name changes are not possible, I needed to take action quickly. The problem was that my passport was still in my maiden name, while my plane tickets had been booked in my married name.

So, if the plane tickets could not be changed, I needed to get a new passport. Herein lies another dilemma: it takes 6 weeks for a new passport to be processed (if you’re lucky) and we were flying in 8 weeks’ time. That would leave me with 2 weeks in which to get visas at Spain, the UK (for Gibraltar) and Morocco. If you consider that visa processing can take anything from one to two weeks each, it becomes clear that there wouldn’t be enough time to get a new passport. Another option would be to get a temporary passport, which takes only one week to process, but isn’t accepted at the UK embassy. What to do?

In the end I went with both options. I applied for a new permanent passport as well as a temporary one. We won’t discuss the 3-hour queue at Home Affairs, or the fact that they wouldn’t accept my photos because I have a fringe covering my forehead. We won’t mention that I went to pick up my temporary passport on the designated day only to be told that I had to go back the next day because only one person had shown up for work that day and couldn’t issue a temporary passport on his own. All that really matters is that I received my temporary passport within a week.

I managed to buy Euros for the trip without any further problems.

The next step was to apply for visas. I had decided to leave Morocco out of the equation, because day trips from Spain apparently only go to the port city of Tangier, and I decided that I would rather do Morocco properly on its own one day. So that left Spain and the UK.

I wasn’t worried about Spain. They are (luckily) the only Schengen state that accepts temporary passports and since my passport and plane tickets now showed the same surname, there was no problem at all and I received my passport, with visa, back within the same week.

Applying for the UK visa was another story, however. You have to fill in a very long online application form, where they want to know everything about you – from where and when you’ve travelled in the past 10 years, to your monthly grocery expenses, to your grandmother’s cat’s name. Well, not exactly the cat’s name, but they could have just as well. I did the application with my old passport, which is still in my maiden name, and added a copy of my marriage certificate, my temporary passport and plane tickets, and hoped they wouldn’t wonder too much why I’m applying for a UK visa when I have no plane tickets going to the UK. As it turns out, they weren’t too curious, or my documentation managed to convince them that I’m not planning on living illegally off British welfare, and I received my passport, with visa, yesterday.

So now, finally, everything seems to have fallen into place. I still need to get an International Driver’s License, but that shouldn’t be a problem. Apart from that, and with only five weeks to go, all that’s left to do now is pack the suitcase and get onto the plane – I can’t wait!

For more posts in the Spain 2010 series, click here.

Have you had any similar logistical problems while planning a trip abroad? Please share them in the comments below.

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