Saturday 29 December 2012

Where the hell is my passport?! - my adventure with the Burmese visa application

Sometimes when things go wrong, it seems like it will never end. Perhaps, I was just unlucky, or maybe it happens to everyone, but you don't really hear about it.
My application for the Burmese visa was a stressful experience. I actually couldn't sleep at night and my tummy hurt all the time. Maybe I overreacted a little bit, but for goodness sake, it was my precious passport!!

I thought I had prepared everything. I checked the embassy's website and had all they wanted: two application forms with photos, passport, self-addressed return envelope, and a postal order for £14. After checking and re-checking everything, I finally put everything, along with my sister's application and passport, into an envelope and sent it with the most secure postage available. 

As mentioned in my previous post  the website doesn't say how long it will take for the visa to be sent to you. On the Lonely Planet forum I read that it can take from 5 to 10 working days. I sent mine on 27/11 and then waited, and waited, and waited...
On the 10th day I decided to contact the embassy. So, I found the number and tried to call them. I chose every single option, and every time the call went through to the voicemail, which was full anyway, so I couldn't leave a message. I still had time though. We're leaving on 04/01, and I still had to send my sister's passport to Poland, but I thought that I could wait a little longer.

Source: via Rosie on Pinterest

After over 2 weeks of waiting, I found an email address for the embassy and decided to email them. They came back to me on the same day, and this is what they said:
'At this time, up to 3 week for visa processing time and you turn will be soon. Don't worry about that.'
Yeah, this really made me feel better.

I gave them another few days, and after exactly 3 weeks, I went to the embassy in person. It is open from 10:00 until 12:00. I got there at 09:45 and there were already a lot of people waiting. You need to take a token and wait for your turn. However, not many people know that as there are no signs, and lots of applicants just sit there without it. There are also a lot of people wandering around, going in and out, it's quite noisy and you can't hear your number being shouted out by the clerk, behind a glass window. It is a mess!

When I finally got to speak to someone. The lady took my and my sister's details and disappeared for a good few minutes. 
  • Your passport isn't here - she told me, after she came back.
  • What do you mean it's not here?? - I was on a verge of a panic attack.
  • Well, it's not here. I think...yes, I'm almost sure that I sent it this morning...Your surname is familiar. Yes, I think I did. You should get it soon.
And after that she was gone. 

I was at work when the envelope came back. My husband signed for it, and cleverly, he didn't check what was inside. He just touched it a couple of times, stated there was only one passport inside, sent me an email informing me about it, and then went to work.
I was really anxious. When I came back, I quickly opened the envelope. Yes, there was only ONE document inside - mine. My sister's passport was gone.

I went back to the embassy again the next day. I was there an hour before the opening time, and a very nice gentleman let me in, and allowed me to wait in the warm waiting room.
Almost all of the employees were late. They came one after another with puffy eyes, and their hair sticking out in different directions. I started to think that they must have had a Burmese version of Christmas party the night before.  They finally opened at 10:20.
When my turn finally came, I explained to the clerk why I was there. I gave him my sister's name. He then disappeared, and came back after few minutes.
  • I'm sorry - he said - the visa section is still closed. You need to wait. 
Suddenly a young man came into the room. He looked 15, and even more sleepy than the rest of them. 
  • Oh, there he's! - exclaimed the clerk I was speaking with. He pointed at me and said - This lady would like to get her sister's passport back.
The young man didn't utter a word. He took the piece of paper where I'd written my sister's name and date of birth, went somewhere, and after a couple of minutes, he came back with her passport, which he handed me without saying anything. 
That was it. No explanation, no security questions, no signing any other documents. 
But the most important thing was that we had the visas, and most of all, our passports. I really do hope that all this stress and fuss was worth it and our Trip will be one of the most amazing experiences ever.

Source: via Sara on Pinterest

What are your experiences with visa applications? Don't be shy! Leave a comment!!


  1. Wow, that sounds so stressful. I guess the lesson is to chase, chase, chase.

  2. That's right! Especially if you have deadlines and in a hurry.