Wednesday, February 6, 2013

U.S. PASSPORTS - Renewing • Adding Pages • Stolen • Lost - a Step-by-Step Guide on How to do it in Costa Rica

A DETAILED STEP-BY-STEP PROCESS TO
RENEW and/or REPLACING YOUR
U.S. PASSPORT
at the U.S. Embassy in
Pavas, San Jose, Costa Rica


WHAT DO I DO IF MY PASSPORT IS DUE TO EXPIRE WHILE I’M ABROAD?
It’s SOOOO EASY to renew it from Abroad 

(my story on that later)!!  
Just follow instructions below.

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BEFORE YOU GO • IN ADVANCE

APPOINTMENT

The U.S. government now (as of November 2011) REQUIRES that ALL PEOPLE wishing to deal with Citizen Services at a U.S. Embassy (throughout the world)  
MUST make an Appointment in ADVANCE!! 

This is ONLY done ON-LINE by clicking

 REQUEST / CANCEL AN  APPOINTMENT HERE )

There are NO EXCEPTIONS to this!! 
You MUST MUST MUST have an appointment to RENEW your passport!!!
(UNLESS you're a Tourist that's had their Passport Lost or Stolen and that process is below)


When making your appointment for ANYTHING 
PASSPORT related 
just press anything - as their system is screwed up and missing a category for people who need to renew a passport that's less than 15 years old - or for extra pages.



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  FORMS•DOCUMENTS NEEDED:
First go to:
CostaRica.USEmbassy.gov/passports.html
to see all the requirements


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PASSPORT RENEWALS:
All you need is your Passport you're Renewing

$110


and
 

DOCUMENT DS 82
Travel.state.gov/passport/forms/ds82/ds82_843.html
Their site mentions that the passport MUST be in GOOD Condition - NOT stained or Ripped (hmmm - I wonder if it is that means you have to file again [since they're worried about you having "Doctored" your passport])

Was your passport ISSUED MORE than 15 years ago?

 It looks like you'll HAVE to apply as if it were a First Time Passport at the $135 price.


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LOST•STOLEN PASSPORT DOCUMENT:
 (I believe this also includes Damaged Passports as well as you just want a new one - perhaps because you don't like the picture - or you have lots of stamps in it.
SOME people [especially "Perpetual Tourists" with LOTS of stamps in their passport showing them doing LOTS of Visa Runs over the years and that want to avoid getting hassled or given just a 30-day Tourist Visa Stamp and told they MUST file for Residency in Costa Rica] that have run out of pages in their passport just go ahead and get a NEW PASSPORT so it does not look to the person at immigrations like you keep going back and forth)

$135


and
DOCUMENT

Travel.state.gov/passport/forms/ds64/ds64_845.html

Travel.state.gov/passport/forms/ds11/ds11_842.html

*****READ THIS BEFORE YOU GO!!!!*****
 First read what they require of you as MOST you will NOT have (Original or copy of Birth Certificate, Report of Birth Abroad, or Naturalization or Citizenship Certificate and Photo Identification like your Driver’s License or photo ID card original or photocopy.  If you got your passport stolen - chances are you might not have that info BUT - what I do BEFORE I travel I make a COPY of all this and Scan it into a JPG and PDF and email it to myself and 4 other people along with ALL my passwords and important information [Goddess forbid - JUST in case something were to happen to me] - so IF anything happened - I could EASILY•CALMLY just go online and send it to whomever I'm dealing with at the embassy.  I find it SURE makes life MUCH easier•calmer when you're prepared for what MIGHT happen!).  If you do NOT have the documents they need - do NOT fret as it CAN be dealt with with a series of questions/verifications). 


If your passport was STOLEN you MUST provide PROOF of that - by going to the "police" - but NOT just any police - you MUST go to the 
OIJ - the Organismo de Investigación Judicial 
(pronounced “O-E-ho-tah” - the U.S. equivalent of the FBI) -
to file a Denuncio (pronounced "DE-Noon-See-Oh".  They are open 24/7!). 
(I've had some people say you NEED the police report and others say no.  I say, if you're planning on getting Residency in Costa Rica - or travel a lot - or have had one lost or stolen before - GET IT!!)

HINT:
EVERY TIME I've taken someone there/been there there was SOMEONE that spoke SOME level of English so not to worry (actually - EVEN if you DO speak English - fake it and just say "Habla Ingles" as each time I've done that I didn't even have to wait in line and I was seen within minutes!!)!!  Make sure to KEEP a Copy of this document - JUST IN CASE you may need it one day!!!
The CostaRica.USEmbassy.gov/passports.html site just mentions if you can wait 2 weeks (meaning you're not a tourist leaving that week Emergency - you would fill out DS 64 as if you were applying for a First Time Adult Passport - yet below that statement it has both these links (hmmmmmm . . . . - maybe DS 11 is for the Emergency people - it's not clear)

OIJ  -  THIS I've had mixed reports on PLUS I have had first hand experience! 
Some have said the OIJ won't take reports for a passport - BUT - I myself have done that - plus I've taken 2 people to do it and they were REALLY HELPFUL!!!
IF you had anything else stolen and you're filing a claim for your insurance (TOURISTS - as a former travel agent•writer - I would say don't always get insurance - BUT - with Costa Rica - I'd say DEFINITELY GET TRIP Cancellation•Interruption Insurance and Medical Insurance!!  There are TOOOO MANY opportunities for things to go wrong here•accidents.

OIJ
Tribunales de Justicia Building - 2nd floor
(2-437-0337 / poder-judicial.go.cr/contraloria/linea_800_telefonos_y_ubicacion_de_oficinas_judiciales_circ1_alajuela.htm
FILL A COMPLAINT  -  800-800-0645
EMERGENCY  -  911

DIRECTIONS to the OIJ: 
San Jose  -  Take Paseo Colon heading East. 
At Avenida 2•Segundo - go East towards San Pedro.
After the Teatro Nacional (about 8-10 blocks), you will come to the base of the hill (it’s the backside of Museo Nacional - where the Plaza de la Democracia [on your left - JUST after the Artisan Mercado] is on the left. If you look to ahead the right (about 2pm) you will see the tall court buildings about 2-3 blocks away.
Turn RIGHT just at the base of the hill. I believe that road should either take you right in front of it on the left after 2-3 blocks, or at least it's within those several blocks where the court complex is. If you were to keep going straight you'll come to a stop where you have to turn right. The Tico Times is somewhere on that road. I think it's Ave. 8.


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WHAT CONSTITUTES AN EMERGENCY IF YOUR PASSPORT WAS LOST OR STOLEN?
An "EMERGENCY" is when a TOURIST (NOT someone living in Costa Rica full time or a Resident doing their Visa Run) looses or has their passport stolen and they have an AIRLINE TICKET showing they are 

DEPARTING within 
THAT WEEK!!!!


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DAY OF
GETTING TO THE EMBASSY

DRIVING THERE:
If you're driving - #1 - BEFORE you even make your appointment - if you must go THROUGH San Jose - make sure to check the restrictions on your license plate:
LivingLifeInCostaRica.blogspot.com/2012/08/DrivingInSanJoseRestrictions.html


PARKING:
There is NO parking around the parameters of the U.S. Embassy. 

You can NO LONGER park in the plaza/market across from the embassy. 

PARKING LOTS: 
There IS a parking lot that is on the East side of the Embassy (50 meters North) - across from Banco Nacional. 

PRICE:

January 8, 2014 - 900-c per hour (1 hour minimum).
The other Parking Lot is - from the Catholic Church Loretto - 50 meters North to the Left.

Otherwise you get to park and walk a few blocks


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GETTING THERE:

DON'T WANT TO DRIVE?

TAKE A TAXI!
MY FAVORITE form of transportation for getting around in Costa Rica - leave the frustration/nightmare to them so you can ENJOY the ride and check out the area!!
I have a list of LEGAL Red (with a Maria•Meter [ALWAYS look the SECOND you get into a car to make sure the meter is on!!]) English-Speaking Taxi Drivers that are happy to assist you - many are in Escazu (the next city over) but they can usually come get you from an area further.  My top ones give the BEST service I've found!!
LivingLifeInCostaRica.blogspot.com/2012/08/EnglishSpeakingTaxisCR.html
(please make sure to tell them Vicki Connected you)


BUS
Pretty much MOST buses that head out throughout Costa Rica originate in San Jose.  This one - "LOMAS" bus leaves from the Coca Cola Bus Terminal.
AutoTransportes Pavas S.A. - AutoTransportesPavas.com/rutas.html).
PRICE:  300-colones


GETTING DROPPED OFF IN FRONT
WARNING!!!!  If you have a taxi or someone dropping you off at the U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica - do NOT have them do it directly in front of the doors as a guard WILL come down and rush you off like you're a terrorist (or just go REALLY FAST before they guard can make it to the car)!!  This happened to me one time when I was taking an older lady who could not walk far.


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SECURITY CHECK-IN:
When you first come to the entrance of the U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica in Pavas, you MAY see a BUNCH of people lined up to your Left.  Do NOT NOT NOT go to that line as that is usually Tico’s/whomever applying for a U.S. Entry Visa. 

U.S. Citizens - people with appointments just walk UP the middle stairs and a guard will open the door and ask you if you have an appointment and they will take your passport and verify it from the appointment list.

Then you will give the guard behind the counter EVERY Electrical device you have - cell phone, camera, iPad, iPod, computer - ALL of it - and they will give you a little key and put your items in a locked box for you to retrieve when you are exiting.

You then put your purse, backpack, bag, wallet, whatever through the Security Scanner and you walk through the People Security Machine plus they will scan you.


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FORMS•DOCUMENTS
If you have not already printed up the appropriate Document you need from their website (on their website it says NOT to pre-print the forms - so . . . ) - as you exit the Security Check-In - to your RIGHT - there should be a table and box on the wall with all the necessary forms (or you can get it once you’re in the building [I suggest earlier - especially if you’re needing your Passport Photo taken - that way you can be filling it out as you’re awaiting that]).


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The first thing you'll encounter is a line and a large booth and a machine that has buttons for you to press to get a number.
If you NOT a U.S. Citizen, do NOT have an appointment AND/or are doing something around getting a visa - go up to a guard and ask them what to do first and they're happy to help you!


If you ARE a U.S. citizen - go directly to the building on your right and the guard before the building or inside will instruct you which window you'll go to (usually Windows 1-6).
Make sure to enter that building at the door on your RIGHT (and make sure to EXIT it at the opposite one or they WILL stop you!)


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PASSPORT PHOTO
IF you are RENEWING or getting a new passport, you will NEED a 2” x 2” photo with a white background and full front view.
You can get this PHOTO taken straight back from the Security entrance - on the left side across from the building you go into.
(note - I believe Costa Rican Passports have a different size so if you go to a place that SAYS they do Passport Photos - it MAY not be the correct size - ASK!!!  I had this happen to me and in the end, I HAD to pay to get new pictures taken so it’s easier just to pay the $2 to KNOW you’re having it done correctly from the beginning!!).
Wait a few minutes to receive your 2 Passport Photos (when I was there they had a mirror so you could primp last minute)

PRICE:
2 photos for 1,000/$2


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PROCEED TO THE BUILDING
Go Up the stairs to the building on your Right (the people sitting out in the open area are non-American’s waiting for their Visa process) and a Guard will tell you what window.
Just sit and wait till they call your name.

When they call your name - go to that window and someone a Citizen Services person will look at your documents to make sure they’re correct. 

Then they will tell you to go to the
"CAJA"
WINDOW 3
 to pay what is due.
If you're there to get a document Notarized - just go directly to Window 3 and pay them and someone will call your name.


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PAYMENT • CAJA:
You can pay at the Consulate, in U.S. dollars or its equivalent in colones - OR - international Credit Cards (Visa, Master Card, American Express).
Personal checks are NOT accepted. 

They will give you a Receipt and you sit down and the next time the person that was helping you is free - jump up to their window IMMEDIATELY BEFORE they have a chance to call another name.


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MEGA $$$ Saving HINT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  

READ!!!!  READ!!!!  READ!!!!

The NEW PASSPORTS (the ones with the "Chip"•Tracking Device) have
FEWER blank pages that you can get stamps on
(now just 20 pages vs 24 that the old passport had)
AND
They are NOW CHARGING
+$82 to get an
ADDITIONAL 20 PAGES ADDED


BUT . . .

There IS a way you can get can get those
20 ADDITIONAL PAGES for FREE
(Jeannie said she had 51 blank pages on hers that she requested the free additional pages with)

BUT . . .
ONLY if YOU request it 

AT THE TIME of 
ORDERING your new•Renewed Passport!!

Vicki's THOUGHTS ON THIS:
So if a renewal is $110 (showing ALL your stamps in it - including those "Perpetual Tourists") and Adding New Pages is just $82,
I think NEXT TIME my Passport fills up (which will be soon) I'm just going to pay the $135 for a WHOLE NEW PASSPORT (since it's not due to renew soon) and I'll request the additional pages at THAT TIME (remember - chances are REALLY GOOD that embassy personnel will NOT offer this to you so YOU MUST ASK for the FREE Extra Pages!!) and then I have a TOTALLY CLEAN•blank Passport
(this is a VERY HELPFUL HINT for "Perpetual Tourists" - as - though Costa Rica does NOT have a policy against PT's - all it takes is one angry Immigration person to think you remind them of the girl their husband ran off with to block you from coming in.

I am NOT telling ANYONE ELSE to do it 

(YOU have to do what YOU feel most comfortable with!!  For me - I'll also be HAPPY to get a new picture as my current one is BAD [fyi - you can request a new passport ANY TIME for ANY REASON - as long as you pay the $135 they require!!)!!

BIG NOTE around this issue that I JUST thought of today (January 8, 2014) when I was at the embassy to get something notarized,

if you get a new passport - then EVERYTHING ASSOCIATED WITH THAT PASSPORT NUMBER MUST get changed!!!!!!!
Bank, drivers license, cedula - ALL of it!!
So is it worth changing it when you MUST go through the hassle of changing these???

(or is risking getting hassled at the border worth a few hours of inconvenience??)
Only YOU know what works for YOU!!!


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FINALLY (for now)
Finish the process at the Embassy and if you still have your passport 
(vs it was lost or stolen) 
they WILL GIVE your OLD Passport BACK TO YOU 
and all you need to do now is wait for your New Passport to come in.

NEXT STEP
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO RECEIVE MY NEW REPLACEMENT PASSPORT?
In ABOUT 10 business days/2 weeks (SOMETIMES it comes faster!!!!)
you
will receive an EMAIL notification from the embassy that your replacement passport is in.
Then YOU get to go BACK to the Embassy to PICK IT UP.


They will NOT NOT NOT mail it to you!!
I've had some people report that they were told that the Embassy would mail them their renewed passport to their P.O. Box but I spoke with one of the heads of Citizen Services and they said they NEVER mail a passport to ANYONE that processed a passport through the U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica because they have some procedures you must do TO GET that new passport:




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PICKING UP YOUR NEW PASSPORT
As mentioned above - your new passport should take about 2 weeks to come to the Embassy in Costa Rica for you to pick it up and once the embassy has received it they send you an email (that's been the process for everyone I've talked to and MY experience also.  Actually - mine came in 11 days).

You do NOT NOT NOT need to make an appointment for this
just go during regular
Citizen Service HOURS
Monday - Friday - 8-11am
AND
Monday  -  1-3pm


When they are in between appointments they do a mass calling for people picking up their replacement passports and you just step up to the counter (Counters 3 or 4 I believe)

When I went to pick mine up awhile back, I LITERALLY was in and out of there in 11 minutes! 
What a BREEZE (and a pleasant shock!!)



#1 - you (or your designated person) HAVE to SIGN for the new passport.

#2 - to get your new renewed passport you MUST bring in your old passport for them to IN-Validate it in order to Activate the new one (they either take your old passport [personally I'd keep it for my records - JUST in case!!  Ya NEVER know!!!] - OR - if you want to keep the old passport you can - BUT - AFTER they punch 2 sets of holes in [if your passport was lost or stolen - of course you wouldn't have that but at least you come in and sign for it]).

I did learn something new (!!!) and that is you CAN AUTHORIZE someone else to pick up your new passport for you - IF - #1 - you have informed them of that (ULTIMATELY when you initially apply) - or at least you have email CORRESPONDENCE with them (meaning they've verified it [just in case they didn't get it]).  It does NOT have to be "Notarized" like SOOOO MANY documents must be in CR to give someone else authorization to do something!!  BUT - when you are giving them that authorization for someone else to pick up the new passport - it's best to include their EXACT name on THEIR passport or cedula (their legal verification that THEY'RE them) - PLUS the old passport # and the name on that passport they're picking up!

These are precautions to prevent your passport getting into the wrong hands.

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MISC. HINTS • NOTES:


"THEY STOLE EVERYTHING - INCLUDING ALL MY MONEY!!
HOW CAN I GET BACK??
A little known fact.  On a RARE OCCASSION, if you can prove PROOF that you are indigent and have NO other way to get back or replace your passport, the U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica will front you the money for your replacement passport and airline ticket -
BUT

They will issue a TEMPORARY PASSPORT that is ONLY good for that ONE trip and ONLY BACK to the U.S.
This Temporary Passport will ONLY take you back to the country of your passport and you can NOT get a Replacement/Permanent Passport till it is ALL PAID OFF (a way to get the scammers.  I'm not positive if it prevents you from doing anything others).



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WHEN SHOULD I RENEW MY PASSPORT BY?
If you’re going to be traveling, depending on where you’re traveling to - some countries require your passport MUST be good for at LEAST 6 months.  Many are now requiring 3 months.

You can renew it ANY TIME you want - even if it's 3 years out.  

That fee is still $110 
(but remember you can add additional pages to it for FREE but ONLY when you initially order the renewed passport!!)



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IMPORTANT INFO•THINGS TO BRING


PEN
Bring a Black or Blue Ball Point Pen
ON THAT NOTE - LATELY, OFTEN the Costa Rican government is requiring things to be in BLUE ball point ink.  Wasn't it just a few years ago that official documents needed to be in BLACK ink (so the copier could pick it up better)??????  Ahhh - our constantly changing world!!!
If you forgot your pen - not to worry, SOMEONE there will have one you can borrow!!

 
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"EMERGENCY CONTACT INFO"
In our current times of friends and families phone numbers and emails+ being so automated - make sure to bring the name, address and phone number for your “Emergency Contact”!
Don't worry if you forget it - it's not the end of the world!!  You can go onto their website to register with them or make changes to your existing profile.




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VALID SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER
The applications require that you to have a VALID SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER 
(if you do not have a VALID Social Security number [like you're hiding out from the IRS or something] you are subject to a $500 PENALTY BY the IRS!!]



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ADDING ADDITIONAL PAGES
You MUST NOW pay an 
ADDITIONAL +$82
to ADD more pages into your passport.

You DO NEED to make an appointment
(since there's no category for this or a few other things - just check off anything that is Passport related)
And you will get it THAT DAY!! 
HINT!!  
Make your appointment for as EARLY in the day as you can as if it's later - you might have to come back in the afternoon after lunch!!!


(See the Red Section above on how to get ADDITIONAL
FREE PAGES!!)

WhatEVER you do - do NOT NOT NOT ALTER your book in ANY WAY as it IS considered
FEDERAL PROPERTY and does NOT belong to you!!!!
If you alter it in ANY way (rip it intentionally [my story on that later], glue in pages from your old book+++]) - it IS PUNISHABLE by LAW!!!!
"Alteration or mutilation of a passport issued pursuant to this application is punishable by fine and/or imprisonment under the provisions of 18 USC 1543. The use of a passport in violation of the restrictions contained herein or of the passport regulations is punishable by fine and/or imprisonment under 18 USC 1544."



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U.S. Citizen Services
at the U.S. Embassy in Pavas, Costa Rica
CostaRica.USEmbassy.gov/service.html


HOURS for CITIZEN SERVICES:
Monday through Friday - 8-11am  
and  
Monday - 1-3pm

BUT - EVERYTHING now is 
BY APPOINTMENT!!! 



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FEDERAL BENEFITS Unit 
for American citizens with issues with
Social Security, Veterans Affairs, Civil Service [OPM] and Railroad Retirement Board
at the

U.S. Embassy in Pavas/San Jose, Costa Rica

DETAILS at:
LivingLifeInCostaR
ica.blogspot.com/2014/01/USFederalBenefitsUnitCR.html



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NOTARY SERVICES:
For that procedure - read:

LivingLifeInCostaRica.blogspot.com/2014/01/USNotaryInCR.html


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TO OVERNIGHT•2-DAY AIR DOCUMENTS TO THE U.S.:

In the past the Embassy gave us EASE by having a DHL counter ON-premise and I believe it was discounted rate at that - BUT - not no more!!! 
Though DHL is closer to the U.S. embassy in Pavas, Costa Rica - their prices were $29 more to send a 1 page document AND they quoted me a 2 day delivery - vs a 1 day delivery and cheaper that Fed. Ex quoted me!!

Read about it at:

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LIVING IN OR TRAVELING TO COSTA RICA
The U.S. Department of State suggests that you REGISTER with them - in case of emergency (receive notifications of advisories, Goddess forbid in case of emergency, etc.)
step.state.gov/STEP



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UGHHHHH - I do NOT like my photo!! What's a girl to do?
If you've already sent it in - the only choice is live with it for 10 years - OR - BUY a new passport - BUT you'll have to pay the full $135.  You're not doomed for life (or at least 10 years).


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WHEN IS THE BEST and WORST TIME TO VISIT THE 
U.S. EMBASSY IN COSTA RICA?
BEST DAY

(fewest people there ON AVERAGE):

BEST DAY  -  Thursdays!!!
(when I went to apply to renew my passport on a Thursday at 9am [I had already downloaded the form and had it all filled out - or you can get them just after you enter the space - on the wall to your right.  Pick it up there, go get your Passport Photo [ - I was in AND out in 36 minutes [including time it took me to walk to the building from where I went through the security scanner!!] and when I went to pick up my  
Next slowest day (on average)  -  Wednesday.
Next slowest day (on average)  -  Tuesday
(THOUGH - Tuesday can be HORRIBLE if there was just a 3-day weekend!!! [Note that the U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica recognizes MOST U.S. AND Costa Rica holidays - See CostaRica.USEmbassy.gov/holidays.html for the days the U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica is CLOSED)
IF it were ME, I’d try NOT to be the “First Appointment” of the day as I’m sure there are others with the “First Appointment” so you may have to wait till they all clear first.


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WORST DAY

#1 BY FAR  -  Monday
(because all the people that had their passports stolen over the weekend.#2  -  Friday
(in part because the weekend has the busiest travel dates so this is especially true)
#3  -  Tuesday
(mainly if there was just a 3-day weekend!!!)



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DO I HAVE TO STILL WAIT FOR HOURS AT THE U.S. EMBASSY IN COSTA RICA IF I HAVE AN APPOINTMENT?
Priority is FIRST given to people with an appointment!!!  MANY people are telling me they usually get called up immediately or within 15 minutes on average.


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MY EXPERIENCE and that of when I've helped others with the process with following these instructions (ESPECIALLY taking heed with what day/time to come) has made ALL MY experiences (and those I’ve assisted) REALLY GOOD!!!

FYI - if you want to have a better experience - be REALLY NICE to the people helping you!!  They are ONLY doing their job and following governmental procedures which does NOT give them much wiggle room.

I’ll bet if you’re a snitty person that has issues with the government, chances are REAL GOOD you’ll attract someone helping you that’s not having a good day (ahhh - the Law of Attraction!!).


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HAVE YOU HAD A DIFFERENT EXPERIENCE?
PLEASE share with me if your experience has been different by emailing me at LivingLifeInCostaRica@gmail.com 
and share your Comments below!!!


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NEED ADDITIONAL HELP? 
CONTACT:

AMERICAN CITIZEN SERVICES
ACSSanJose@state.gov  •  2-519-2000

HOURS:

Mon.-Fri.-8am-11:30pm
They are ALSO open Mon. from 1-3pm for U.S. Citizen dealing with Passport issues ONLY! 



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Brandon said there's a TASTY CHEAP CHEAP SODA
ACROSS the street from the Embassy
in the strip mall where PeriMercado is
The Daily Special was just 2,000-c WITH a Natural Drink!!! 



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WHAT'S THE PROCESS FOR CANADIANS TO RENEW THEIR PASSPORT?
Here's a good article on that at:
DianasCostaRicaBlog.blogspot.com/2014/01/renewing-your-canadian-passport.html



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THANX!!!!



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PLEASE "SHARE" this with ALL American Citizens You know!!
LivingLifeInCostaRica.blogspot.com/2013/02/renewing-your-us-passport-cr.html

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