Thursday, February 29, 2024

Traveling to Cyprus to Get US Passports

The only picture I could get of this whole thing- the self addressed stamped envelopes at the local post office to the mail forwarding company, since security was so strict so no pictures, even from outside.

I have mentioned enough times in my recent posts that we went to Cyprus to get American passports because it has become impossible to get appointments at my local American embassy for far too long, I'd heard about a friend who did this, and I decided to do the same. Since then, I have been asked for more information on how I did this, and what the steps entail, so I decided to compile that into a blog post for you.

There are a few parts involved in getting the passports.

First, there is the step of making the appointments. They have many available appointments, but I didn't see the option to make appointments much in advance. To make an appointment, you want to go to the American Embassy in Cyprus's website for all the information needed including necessary documents, and then from there you are directed to this website to make appointments, where you'll need to pick the country and location, then pick what type of appointment you need, then the date. 

When I checked in December, there were only appointments available in January, and when I asked then when there would be February appointments available they said they would be made available after the New Year. When 2 weeks after the New Year there were still no appointments, I emailed the embassy at to ask them when appointments for February would be available, and they responded within a few hours that February appointments opened up. When I went to check about appointment availability now, they have appointments all the way from now through September available, but I don't know what the future will hold.

When you make an appointment, print or save the appointment information they give you as a PDF because you'll need it and the code for the appointment written on it for future use.

If you have any questions whatsoever about the process, I found them to be very responsive via email.

Because I was going with my children without their father, a non-American, I had to get this parental consent form filled out and then notarized. This cost me $35 per kid. I had a bit of trouble with this one because of the notary I used. There was a part of the form that the notary was supposed to fill out, but because he gave me the documents notarized with a ribbon connecting them I didn't look through it to check it out, and I didn't see that he left that whole section blank, and just included a cover letter. He also didn't attach the copy of my ex's ID like it says needs to be attached. He told me that I needed to get it apostilled at the embassy, but I double checked by emailing the embassy in Cyprus and they said a notary is fine, but apostille isn't necesary. 

Because the notary had not filled out the form properly, my trip could have been for naught. They at first said that because of that, my ex would have to show up at the local embassy to get the paperwork signed there, and then when I reminded them of the fact that we flew to Cyprus because there are no local appointments within a reasonable amount of time and that they had confirmed via email that an apostille isn't necessary, after some deliberation, they decided to allow it, as long as I sent in a copy of my ex's ID via email. 

So I highly recommend that if you are traveling without your kids' parent, check that the notarized forms are fully completed, that the ID is included, and it also helps to have an emailed paper trail with the embassy.

You come to the appointment with the paperwork for your passports already filled out and printed, along with a passport picture and payment. The payment for the passport is $135 for a child's passport and $165 for an adult passport, and 16-year-olds, such as my son, get an adult passport. 

You will need to have an address in Cyprus to get your passports mailed to since the embassy will not mail them abroad. I used Cyprus Coast Office after my friend used him and recommended him to me. You pay for a 6 months post office box for 60 Euro, and then whatever mail arrives there gets forwarded to you at your expense. I found the person who runs it, Manfred, to be really helpful and responsive via email. I am not sure why the website is down right now, to be honest, and I just emailed them to find out why.

When you come to the appointment, you need to bring paid self addressed envelopes for each passport application, 2.52 Euros each. The post office closest to the embassy knew exactly what we needed when we went there, but since we didn't bring them to the appointment, we just went and brought them back to the embassy after our appointment and dropped them off.

Security for the embassy is really strict. Your ID gets checked thoroughly before you enter the embassy, making sure that you are all on the list of who is allowed to enter that day. If you are bringing anyone that isn't having an appointment, make sure to include their name on the part of the appointment making wizard where it asks who will be accompanying them. 

At our local embassy, you are not allowed to enter the embassy with any electronics, phones, computers, or even just wires. They get put aside for you in a cubby and you get them back when you leave. At the Nicosia embassy, you are allowed to enter with absolutely nothing other than your documents. Not food, not books, not toys. Absolutely nothing. This caused issues because very bored kids with nothing to do and nothing to eat do not make for a pleasant appointment, especially when you're waiting inside for over 2 hours. Make sure to eat and feed your children before going inside (they wouldn't let them leave to eat and come back inside). Asking for a pen and paper and allowing my children to color at least helped somewhat.

This whole process was definitely a big pain. But it worked so much more smoothly than our local embassy, even so. Just one week after we were at the embassy, my oldest's passport already arrived there and the mail forwarding business got it just a few days later. It was very well worth it.

When we were at the embassy we weren't the only people who came from abroad to get passports- it apparently is something they are quite familiar with- people from a few different countries were there.

Would I do this again? Well, hopefully not. Hopefully, the US embassy where I live can get their act together soon and I won't have to go through this whole rigamarole when my kids need passports renewed. But if things still are an issue, I would do it again. And I'd recommend it to anyone else who needs passports and can fly to Cyprus cheaply since it beats waiting months and months for a potential passport appointment.

Have you ever traveled to another country to get a passport for your children? How complicated was it for you? Is this something you'd consider doing for your children?

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