I remember a time in the 70's that if you were stuck in a difficult situation overseas, you could pop in to your embassy and they would help you, but not anymore!! Our own embassies don't care about their citizens anymore. Opinions please from travellers of the 70's
I didn't travel in the 70s (or 80s, or 90s); I had no money to do so.
Over the past couple of decades travelling widely has become much more the norm for many, many, many more people. So it is not really surprising that embassies have changed their role and are no longer able to perform the same functions as they once did. They maintain their primary purpose of helping out in true emergencies and, imo, that is what actually matters (and what they should be there for).
Leics, Are you aware that Brits in the Philippines cannot even renew their British Passport at the Embassy. We have to send it off to Hong Kong for renewal at a great expense and that leaves the bearer of the passport without his own passport during the process,, which in turn makes it illegal to be in the country of residence without a passport. And i have heard that very soon we will not even be allowed to renew our passport in Hong Kong. This is outrageous. Surely the British Embassy have a responsibility to look after their own citizens. And another thing is that you can no longer apply for a visa to visit UK at the Embassy here as the visa application service has been farmed out to another independent organisation.(as with many other countries)
I was of course not aware of the situation and am sorry you are encountering problems with the UK Embassy where you now live. But to translate that into 'embassies not caring about their own citizens' seems to me a vast over-generalisation.
It does seem odd that you will, apparently, be placed in an illegal situation whilst renewing your passport. Presumably this is something which affects only the ex-pat community in the Philippines. Perhaps you might get together as a group (of UK ex-pats) to address the situation from a legal point of view?
I find that the embassies are still quite helpful when i need them, but that is in terms of help with getting new documents and so, aswell as with getting a translator if that is needed (i have to pay for that service though).
But in terms of handing money out to a broke traveller then no way Jose.
That pretty much ended when the backpackers started going to India and Nepal in the 1960's and the word got around that if you were broke then you could just get the embassy to pay you a return ticket back to Denmark.
I work as a tour leader and have a few cases every year where some of my older folks lose their passport, end up in hospital or whatever can happen on a holiday and the embassy is very helpful to these people, but that is also because they have travel insurance so the embassy knows that they will not get stuck with their bill.
I have to admit that even in the 1970s, the US embassies weren't all that helpful...but the embassy wasn't supposed to be that helpful, as most of the US citizen services were done by the consulate...which wasn't all that helpful either, quite likely for the reasons that Claus said.
I did visit the US consulate in Rome in the 70s, but it wasn't a warm, fuzzy experience, starting with the Marine guard who stared at me as if I were a member of the Red Brigades (a 70s-era terrorist group)...and all I wanted to do was file my 1040A income tax return :-0
>>>Perhaps you might get together as a group (of UK ex-pats) to address the situation from a legal point of view?
David, I didn't realize that you are a UK ex-pat. I wonder if the motive for making extentions more difficult is to discourage citizens from living outside of the country while still having all the advantages of UK citizenship?
It used to be--I don't know if it is still the case--for US citizens that we'd have to return to the USA at least once every seven years to keep our citizenship. I'm guessing that Hong Kong is a lot closer to you now, than the UK to make the renewal?
I've only been to an embassy/consulate once. Yes, it was heavily guarded as Bill described, with armored US Marine guard. I would never and didn't feel intimidated by them.
However, the one thing I learned was that embassy employees were arbitrary and don't make things easy. Politely and respectfully pushing my agenda forward did get me what I was after in a reasonable time frame. So maybe J. is correct that you and your fellow ex-pats can get a reasonable compromise?
Every job has it's necessary evils, and for me as a tour director, - it was border crossings with all that implies. Like Clause I fewquently had to deal with various embassies, which back in the day I found most helpful, - to any members of a pre-organized tour.
No, embassies are no longer AS helpful as they used to be, - for reasons already described, but make no mistake, - a great percentage of the "new inconveniences" are a post-9/11 syndrome, and not just in the U.S.
Throughout the decades, the Icelandic embassy, in any country was always a delightful, spending-time-with-countrymen, type of thing. I could obtain a new passport by phone, or letter, and ALWAYS, in emergencies, they came through.
In the last decade or two, I communicated with the Embassy in Washington D.C. by e-mail, and as always, they were a breeze to work with. Post-9/11 it is a different story though, but not so much the fault of the embassy.
With the advance of bio-metrics, and all that implies, I am preparing for a trip to Washington D.C. so that my embassy can do all the bio-metric data for my new assport, which means the cost of a roundtip flight and hotel for a day or two. All this due to the U.S. demanding that any foreign citizens that are Permanent Residents (green Card holders), when renewing or replacing their passport, it must be bio-metric. I understand the reasons and motives, but I do not like it!
I just recently received my new bio-metric Green Card. I was told by Homeland Security, where I had to go to get one, informed me that there were seven layers of information on the card. Looking at it in a proper light, I can see parts of three layers, with holograms and shadow writing, and even information written in the sqiggly, barely reqdable way you are often asked to deceipher, on a webpage, for security reasons. For identification purposes, it is better than all, except for bio-metric passports, yet no one has any machines to read them, so they are almost useless yet in daily life. Suits me fine.
Like it, - don't like it, - but learn to f'n live with it, as it is coming to your home town soon, in the form of bio-metric Driver's licences, and other readily used means of identification, - which means, your life's "not necessarily-good-stuff-from-the-past" documentation will be right there in your pocket, to be shared, upon demand, - when everyone who is anyone, will have bio-metric card reader "boxes", in a world where no one, NO ONE, can escape their past...........
........(made me think!......Anything I need to worry about......? Eh?....)
Linda, that is an interesting point but not one I feel is valid in this case.
However, I see no particular reason why the UK government should take ex-pats into special consideration when it rearranges its business and actions (which are all funded by UK taxpayers).
But if by rearranging those actions it truly put ex-pats into an illegal situation then it is something which should be addressed.
.... and we could join the yearly celebration of Queensday at the Ambassy and would be treated with raw herring, Gouda cheese and a free drink.
Nowadays Dutchmen living abroad and getting a pension must sometime travel outside the country for a new passport. No home service or what.
Thanks everyone for the interesting views. I am also sure that ex-pats living in some other Asian countries cannot renew their passports at their local embassies.
As a dane you can not get a new passport at the embassy anymore, but that is because they have the new biometric passports and they don't want to have too many places issuing them as there is the risk of fraud.
If a dane lose his or her passport abroad then you get a temporary one year passport issued by the embassy and you need to carry a report with it saying that you have lost your original passport.
Then within one year you will need to visit Denmark and obtain a new passport.
It used to be quite a big issue having to mabye go half way around the globe to get such thing done, but travelling is so much easier and cheaper these days that i don't really see it as a big problem.
Heck, i sometimes fly to places like singapore, Damascus and Rio de Janeiro to have a few beers with friends over the weekend and i'm a low income guy according to the danish tax office.
Good point about the biometric passports, Claus. All UK passports are now biometric, have been for some time.