Greek passports

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.


mikesum32 wrote on August 21st, 2007 at 2:50 AM PST:

The real guy that Terminal was based on went crazy, or at least more crazy. He can leave now, but as far as I know still lives in the airport.

I guess you didn’t read about the whole reason for FalterCon was non-refundable plain tickets. It was on OSNews. I guess you should read your former site more often. :-)

You could always dispute the charge with the credit card company. Suck it Priceline.

Stefan wrote on August 21st, 2007 at 10:17 AM PST:

Or maybe call the embassy in DC if they’re not helpful..

JBQ wrote on August 21st, 2007 at 4:52 AM PST:

Actually, the dollar amount was more than that. But that’s not all. The reality is that that cost us a 3-week vacation in Europe (at a time of the year that is ideal for such a vacation), and that it’s not 100% clear when our next opportunity will be.

It’d make no sense to dispute the charge – there’s nothing to dispute. The ticket was non-refundable and the fee to exchange them was too high to be worth it. We knew what we bought when we bought it. There are few enough cases where we need to exchange or refund such tickets that the additional cost to buy a refundable/exchangeable ticket is not justified.

mikesum32 wrote on August 21st, 2007 at 5:51 AM PST:

You ought to send the consulate a letter so they know their inaction caused you to miss your trip and lose money.

I hope they have your current address.

Ralf. wrote on August 21st, 2007 at 7:50 AM PST:

Here in Germany it takes some weeks to get a new passport, too. But our local administrations are able to certificate a provisorily, temporary, time limited passport within one day, if you need one immediately for traveling or something like that.
Of course this will cost an additional fee – but better than to loose monye on the flight ticket.

Maybe the Greek consulate can do the same? Have you asked?

Stefan wrote on August 21st, 2007 at 10:13 AM PST:

I imagine the trouble..
I second Ralph’s question :Have you checked with the consulate and explain them the situation? They might help somehow with some kind of temporary solution. I’m sure you are not the first person in this kind of situation.

This is the admin speaking...
Eugenia wrote on August 21st, 2007 at 10:28 AM PST:

The consulate here had to deal with these kinds of problem with other Greeks too. By now, they are probably ignoring the situation. From what I heard, there were many such problems.

Andreas wrote on August 21st, 2007 at 12:50 PM PST:

Ευγενία, δες τι τράβηξαν και άλλοι με τα διαβατήρια. Μέχρι και online διαμαρτυρία οργανώθηκε.

papo wrote on August 22nd, 2007 at 3:45 PM PST:

eugenia i know this story with the passport is very very typical greek but I am sure you can get a new passport soon enough – if try to persuade them etc etc!

Anyway..dont forget ..what all greeks going through in order to get to the US! At some point I thought they might check or ask when I had sex last time!

Ralf. wrote on August 27th, 2007 at 11:25 PM PST:


when I look at the current news from Greece – omg!
Be glad that you are not there at the moment. That looks horrible! What a disaster – looks like fires were everywhere.
Ich hope that non of your friends or family there is affected in any manner.
I hope the EU gets on with the help for the poor greek people!

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