Earlier in the month I requested a new passport from the American consulate. Not because my old passport was expired (I had another 4 years) but because I wanted to change my last name to my married name. Yay!
I must say that the process definitely seemed confusing at first. Of course, you need an official copy of the marriage certificate as evidence that you are married, which you can request from city hall. But when I received the marriage certificate, it said that my last name after marriage was still my maiden name. It turns out that in the Netherlands your last name is still your maiden name, but you can use a different last name in certain circumstances. You need to tell city hall what your preferred last name is and then any organization which gets your data from city hall’s records will use it unofficially (Den Haag article).
But since I got married a few years back, this information slipped my mind. So imagine my shock when I received the marriage certificate and it said that my last name was still my maiden name even after getting married. What! But after speaking with the American consulate it seems they are quite used to this – just send the information, they said.
I did so, using PostNL. Track and trace with a required signature on both ends (self-addressed envelope in the original envelope). Especially because the address that the consulate wants to use begins with “Passport services” as the department name… you can’t make it more obvious that there is a passport inside! So I went to a PostNL to mail off the envelope (not even a post office by the way – a lot of PostNL locations are inside regular stores! It’s a cost saving measure.) Things inside included the application, my old passport, my marriage license, and a form permitting them to charge Marco’s credit card.
I don’t have too many packages delivered — I vastly prefer ordering through bol.com and being able to pick it up at Albert Heijn, rather than having to rely it being delivered to a neighbor – so this was a relatively new experience for me. I even downloaded the app. I figured since I paid a bit of extra money I would be able to see when the consulate returned it to PostNL to deliver it to me, but no – the first notification I had that they were coming was literally a notification last weekend that said “the driver is now on the way”. The only problem with that is that I had movie tickets to see X-Men: Apocalypse from 10:30am and the delivery window was 10:00-12:00. We waited as long as we reasonably could, but he didn’t come before we left.
No problem – you have two delivery attempts before you have to pick it up at the post office. Since it requires a signature they will not give it to the neighbors. When we came back there was a piece of paper in the post office box – “Sorry we missed you, we’ll come back the next working day, here’s a code to change the location or time of the second delivery attempt”. Okay, cool. I can change it to “pick up at the post office”! You can do this until 10pm on the original delivery date.
Except entering the code did nothing – I could see no option to change it. Roger suggested that I wait a bit longer, as sometimes it isn’t available until after the driver changes the delivery after his shift. But no – we tried on two computers, a tablet and a telephone various times that day – no options came up. Until after 10pm that is. Then I could see the options to change the delivery – but since it was after 10pm it was greyed out! How unbelievably frustrating. I read later on a random website that this probably meant you couldn’t change this particular delivery, but why they don’t report that possibility on their website I don’t know…
Same situation on Sunday (doesn’t show up until after 10pm, options greyed out) so I decided to be nice and stay home from work Monday morning. The next delivery window 8:00-10:00am, so I could start work early and then still be at work at a reasonable time, especially as I had a meeting at 11am. But does it ever work out that easily? Nope. At 10:35 I went and checked the mailbox – no piece of paper saying I had missed them at least (not that that was possible). I actually went outside with my jacket and purse, intending to go to work – but promptly turned around. What was I doing? There aren’t many work meetings that are more important than making sure you get your passport in one piece!
In retrospect I am glad I turned around. Right after I got back upstairs, I received a notification from PostNL. “Driver is now on his way.” I was pretty mad when I saw that! Until I saw that notification I hadn’t realized he hadn’t started the route yet (that’s when I went back and compared it to Saturday’s, when the notification came right at the start of the delivery window). And, as before, it doesn’t meet the driver is coming to me, it just means the route (finally) started.
So, to sum up… the package finally arrived around an hour later, around 11.35. I didn’t even say anything to the driver – for all I know, he was covering for someone else’s shift, or some other reason. It’s not a job I want to have, that much I know. I just thanked him, signed for it, and ran back upstairs.
Of course at that point there was no point going to work, so I just worked from home the rest of the day. Not something I do often, but it’s not bad now and then.
But the good news – the passport (and my photo) look great. So there is that. And now I don’t need to renew it until 2026!