I found out just a month ago, out of complete luck from the *US* consulate website, that my Greek passport that was issued just 2 years ago is invalid. I had no freaking idea about this. Apparently the Greek government issued a law last year that all passports issued prior to 2006 will be invalid after Jan 1 2007 because they wanted to move to biometric passports. I never knew about this Greek law. I don’t live in Greece anymore, and I don’t read Greek news too often. I have no Greek friends here in USA. The only people I speak on the phone in Greek is my mother and brother who just don’t don’t know about that stuff. In all truth, I had heard that Greece would move to biometric passports at some point, but I never thought, not in my wildest dreams that they would invalidate VALID passports. In fact, this is the only European country that has done this the last 30 years! The EU law that mandated the move to biometric passports specifically said that there is no reason to invalidate the older passports — but the Greek government was the ONLY EU country that did.
I am not holding accountable the Greek government about this as much though, but the Greek consulate in San Francisco. You see, THEY were the ones who issued my previous passport. Instead of sending a letter to the registered addresses of each Greek citizen who issued a passport with them in the last 4-5 years in SF, they kept mum. I don’t expect the Greek government to send letters about this to the Greek citizens, but I definitely expect the Consulates doing so, because this passport change can create a LOT of mess to citizens that live in a country other than Greece. It is their job to keep us informed about such important things. Important enough things that can end you up like Tom Hanks in the “Terminal”: stuck in international grounds of an airport, unable to enter or leave a country.
To get the new passport, it takes a month of waiting. Because I didn’t know about all this, I had already purchased a ticket to go to Greece in the end of August. This fiasco cost me $1100 as the ticket was non-refundable.