The Brits once again come up with a clever solution to the problem of the scatterbrained client


My friend :: Wendy :: got into a state where she kept misplacing her passport. (I guess she keeps moving it around.) The first time she misplaced her passport and gave up looking for it, she reported it missing and received a replacement. Then she misplaced the replacement, and while searching for it, she found the original. She reported the first passport as found; this keeps the issuing government happy since they can take it off their If Somebody Tries To Use a Passport with This Number, Arrest Her list. But they can't reactivate the original passport, because it takes time for the updated list to propagate all around the world, and it would be bad to be travelling through some remote country and find yourself thrown in prison because they didn't get the word that your passport number has been un-revoked.

Anyway, she gave up looking for the second passport, and applied for another replacement. By this point, the government found itself in a bit of a quandary: Here's a citizen who is legally entitled to a passport but who has also demonstrated a bit of scatterbrainedness. Their solution: Issue a one-year passport. This allows them to fulfill their obligation to their citizens while limiting the damage if the passport is lost yet again.

(Believe it or not, that's the short version of the story. Here's the long version.)

Comments (11)
  1. John says:

    My friend :: Wendy :: got into a state where she kept misplacing her passport.

    Texas? :)

  2. Steve Nutt says:

    I’m over 40 and my wife has banned me from carrying anything of importance – especially my passport. Do people still travel ?

  3. David Walker says:

    … because, as we know, Texas is a whole ‘nother country!

  4. Mark W says:

    Yeah, they did this to me 10 years ago. I had mine stolen twice (not directly but once while in a rucksack from my car and the second time while in a courier bag).

    I think it even went further than that. There was a clause that only allowed me to get a 10 year passport at the end if I managed to keep the one year for the full year.

  5. GreenReaper says:

    I got an error the first time I tried to load that page. Apparently the Old New Thing is now popular enough to cause its own mini-Slashdot effect.

  6. dave says:

    British passports are remote-readable, and if you believe all the scare stories, they can be read at some distance.  Surely there’s a technological fix?  Something like a metal detector tuned to Her Brittanic Majesty’s passports.

    (I’m assuming that the ‘lost passport’ location can be narrowed down to something like ‘in the house somewhere).

  7. Nuts.  I was hoping she would use the old passport – then we’d see whether there really was a "arrest anyone using this passport" list.

  8. cb says:

    GEAUX SAINTS!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. NicF says:

    The Australian government seems to go in for financial deterence; the price for replacement goes up each time you lose it.  First replacement is the just the normal application fee, second replacement is twice the cost, and the third time is just ridiculous.  My last passport is stuck in the bowels of an X-ray machine in Sydney International :(

  10. DysgraphicProgrammer says:

    I can top that. My dad once had to go looking for his US passport for the first time in several years. He found no less then 3 old, expired, lost,  passports but could not find the current one anywhere.

  11. Robert Furber says:

    In Britain we also have a rule that if you lose your National Insurance number card (equivalent to Social Security card) twice, then they never send you a replacement, and you just have to memorize it, or copy it off an old tax return.

    Here’s where this rule is stated (what if my card is lost or stolen section):

    http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/nic/ynino.htm

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