Frustrated, Jane Jeffries watches her husband's replacement passport travel around the USA and Central America.
Temuera Morrison's Dr Ropata would have been happy to have the New Zealand Passport Office on his side in Guatemala. They have an efficient online system for replacement.
With my husband's passport lost in Antigua, Guatemala, an overwhelming sense of vulnerability crept over us. We had lost our freedom of movement and were captive in a foreign country. So when the replacement passport landed in LAX - coming in from Auckland on Air New Zealand's NZ6 - with just one more flight lined up to get it to Guatemala, we were elated.
Foolishly, we celebrated and the stress flowed out of us. However, we were soon to realise this was only the beginning of the passport's journey.
Over the next five days, we tracked the passport as it did a tour of the USA.
As it left LAX, instead of heading south to Guatemala, the passport headed north to Cincinnati, Ohio - close to the Canadian border. Why? we asked. Then it headed east to Miami before travelling south, overshooting Guatemala by 2000km and landing in Panama City. Another layover and a short leap to San Jose in Costa Rica. Finally, it reached Guatemala.
If geography is not your strong point, don't worry. All you need to know is watching the passport zigzag its way across the USA and Central America was stressful, not to mention the hefty expenses and our disrupted plans.
So here are a few tips should you ever find yourself without your passport.
There are two options. You can get a replacement passport or an emergency travel document, which can be a quicker alternative but can also pose complications. An emergency travel document is really designed only to enable you to return home quickly.
Yet depending on where you are travelling, this document can be very problematic. If you are routed through the USA, you cannot get a USA Waiver Visa online. Instead, you must go to the American authorities, whether it be an embassy or consulate, for an interview before a visa can be issued.
We were routed through Los Angeles so our only option was to apply for a new passport.
The New Zealand Passport Office have a fast and efficient online system to process urgent passport replacements. However, two digital images of the applicant are required.
With my husband's application complete, all that was left was photos.
We stripped the hotel bed of its sheets and attached them to the door frame to create a white backdrop, tirelessly trying to create the perfect image.
With photo after photo rejected because of the size and pixel issues, we sought the assistance of an Antiguan photographer, but the language difficulties were too great to overcome. So we sent the best image we had to a photographer in New Zealand who worked some sort of magic.
Before you leave home:
●Ensure your travel insurance policy covers loss or theft of your passport. The cost of a new passport, telephone calls to the New Zealand Passport Office, changing airfares and additional accommodation adds up very quickly.
●Have a digital passport photo (to New Zealand passport specifications) stored on your electronic device.
●Have a record of your passport number.
What to do if your passport is stolen or lost:
●Get a police report.
●Call the New Zealand Passport Office to tell
them you have lost or had your passport stolen, on +64 4 463 9360.
●Decide whether to apply for a replacement passport ($360) or an emergency travel document ($500) - this fee also includes the cost of a replacement passport).
●Fill out the required application with a digital photo taken in the past six months, in colour, as a .JPG or .JPEG file.
●You will need an identity referee who is not a partner or family member and holds a New Zealand passport.
●New Zealand passports can be issued only in New Zealand, London and Sydney.
For all information on Kiwi passports, go to passport.govt.nz