Passport Application

Yesterday I went back to the consulate for the final step — getting my passport! I had been putting this off forever, but now that I have a trip to Italy coming up, the pressure is on! (ok, not really)

Here’s what the process was like:

  1. Show up at the consulate, wait 1 hour (usual wait time)
  2. Provide Canadian passport & driver’s licence + 2 passport photos
  3. Sign some Italian forms (staff will verbally translate) — essentially these forms stated that I consent to being fingerprinted, and that I have verified that all the information that will go on the passport is correct
  4. Get fingerprinted
  5. Pay $171 CAD in cash
  6. Go home and wait by the mailbox! (I provided a self-addressed prepaid express envelope)

Total time taken: ~1.5 hours

The passport will last 10 years, and it’s much cheaper to renew (currently ~$68 CAD).

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Go snail mail!

UPDATE 8/10: Received my passport in the mail yesterday! It only took 1 week!

It’s Official!

My application has been processed – in other words, I am officially recognized as an Italian citizen!!!

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This is me…….if I were the CN Tower

This actually happened 2 weeks ago (I was out of the country, so no blog updating for me). I awoke one morning to this very straight to the point, unceremonious message from the consulate:

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I actually had to read this twice to make sure I understood it correctly. Something this big couldn’t possibly be expressed so tersely, and in such a flat tone….could it?! (short answer: yes)

This was quite fast – I submitted my last documents on Feb 1, so the processing took 3.5 months. They estimated 8-12 months. Not bad!

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Little Italy, Toronto — April 2017

Timeline

UPDATED: May 24, 2017

How long does this take, anyway? It feels like it’s been an eon since I started my process. Here’s the breakdown:

date time taken
2011? First attempt to acquire grandparents’ birth certificates from Italy. Sent letter by mail, failed.
2011-2014 Got distracted and forgot about it.
early 2015 Poked around public records and found marriage and death records
Apr 2015 Second attempt to acquire birth certificates. Sent email.
Went to Toronto consulate for first time to ask questions. They confirmed requirements.
May 2015 Received birth certificates from Italy 1 month
Made appointment online to go to Toronto consulate (10 month wait at the time; got way longer, well over 1 year now)
Aug 2015 Requested grandmother’s immigration record from Canadian government
Nov 2015 Received original passports & misc. official docs from uncle in Montreal
Got passports & docs certified at Montreal consulate on the spot
Received grandmother’s immigration; had error, government corrected it quickly 3 months
Jan-Feb 2016 Requested & received apostilles for USA documents 1 month
Requested and received Quebec documents; initial failure & issues with typos 2 months
Mar 2016 Requested and received translations of Quebec docs; went to Montreal for pickup 2 weeks
Got translations certified at  Montreal consulate on the spot
*March 16, 2016* Appointment at Toronto consulate; 90% of paperwork submitted & fee paid
Sent USA documents to Chicago consulate
Aug 2016 Received USA documents back 5 months
Sept 2016 Brought USA documents to Toronto consulate; problem with marriage certificate
Dec 2016 Requested new translation of marriage certificate
Jan 2017 Received new translation 1 month
*Feb 1, 2017* Submitted final paperwork. Application processing 3.5 months
May 11, 2017 Application processed – I am a citizen!!!

Here is a list of the errors I’ve had to fix throughout this process (some were my fault, and others weren’t):If we consider April 2015 the official start, then the process to complete my application took a total of 1 year and 9 months. If I had cut out all useless steps (*ahem* sending documents to Chicago) I would have had this done in 1 year and 4 months. And if I had done more in between setting my consulate appointment and actually going to it, I could have theoretically gotten everything done in 10 months – the time between booking & attending the appointment. But remember that no matter how fast you go, there will always be unanticipated errors that you have to work to fix. Especially in Canada.

  • Wrong dates on immigration record
  • Misspelled names & typos on certificates
  • Wrong format of birth certificate
  • Wrong copy of marriage certificate

…which I guess isn’t that bad, but all of these caused their own delays and headaches. Requesting corrections from the Quebec government was the worst.

But it’s all done now. 🙂

 

Final Submission (for real)

Today was an important day — I officially submitted all of my paperwork. My application is being processed! I can’t wait to be officially recognized as a citizen 1 year from now!! (hopefully I didn’t just jinx it)

But wait, let’s back up. My last post was about getting my stamped documents back from Chicago. I believe this was a completely unnecessary, totally time-wasting step. But it’s okay!

I went back to the consulate with these papers, and they told me two things:

  1. “You didn’t need these stamps…why did you get them?” (because you insisted last time….)*
  2. “Your marriage certificate doesn’t match the translation.”

Yeah…..OOPS. I had an official marriage certificate with apostille. But the copy I gave to my translator was a “souvenir copy.” It was what I had in my lockbox, and I never once thought that it was different from an official copy. (Why did the state even give me this useless document?) They look nearly the same, but the official copy has signatures and a lot more boilerplate text.

I had the correct version translated and brought that to the consulate today. And that was it. Yay!

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Come to me…..my precioussss

*take home message: if something sounds out of whack, it probably is….don’t trust them! Just go back another day and speak to a different person.

Final Certifications

Today I finally got my self-addressed fat envelope back from Chicago!! It took 5 months to get the final stamps of approval on my marriage licence and certificate. That’s a long time, but I’m happy it’s done! (I thought for sure my documents were goners by now, and was about to replace them…)

Now, back to the Toronto consulate to get this citizenship ball rolling!

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I’ve never been happier to see my own crappy handwriting

Translations & Certifications – Part 2

I just wanted to add a few more notes about this process. For the translations, I ended up contacting two translators – one in Toronto for English documents, and one in Montreal for French documents. The English translations (and originals) are being sent to Chicago, as I described in my previous post. The French translations (and originals) were brought to the Montreal consulate for legalization/certification.

Here’s a cost breakdown:

  • English translations: Marriage licence & marriage certificate – $125
(these were only 1 page each, but filled with tons of boilerplate fine print)
  • French translations: 2 birth certs, 2 marriage certs, 1 death cert – $95
(these were 1 page each, most fields empty)
  • Legalization* @ Montreal: ~$230
*legalization of original documents and certification of translations
  • Certification of translations @ Chicago: $32 USD (plus many stamps)

In terms of process, the English translations were easy. I just had to travel a few neighbourhoods to go pick them up. For the Montreal documents, I had to coordinate carefully. In the end, it worked out very well – I arrived by train on a Thursday, picked up the translations, and then on Friday morning headed to the consulate. The certification process took about 30 minutes total (including the wait). I worried about coordinating this final step for weeks, but it turned out to be incredibly easy and painless.

Appointment

I went to my appointment (two weeks ago – March 16)!! It was fairly quick and easy. I showed up, sat down in the waiting area for about 2 minutes, and then submitted all my paperwork. The consulate started a file for me, and I paid the application fee (300 Euros, which amounted to $437.50 CAD).

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The Toronto consulate…a beautiful old building

My application is not complete yet, because I was told that I needed to do one final thing: submit my US documents to the consulate in Chicago for legalization. When the documents come back, I can stop in at the Toronto consulate anytime to add them to my file; at this point my file will begin processing. The staff member who assisted me estimated that the process will take 8-12 months.

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One final big, fat envelope

For the final legalization, I will need to send my two US marriage documents (licence & certificate), along with their apostilles and translations, to Chicago. I’ll be honest – I don’t understand why this step is necessary. The original documents bear the county’s stamp. They both have apostille, an international legalization. And the translations were done by a certified Ontario translator, right off the Toronto consulate’s list of recommended translators. If they wanted to know that the translation (from English to Italian) was legit, they could look at it themselves and quickly verify it. I don’t understand bureaucracy, but at this point I will just do what I’m told.

Now to highlight the good news: I showed up with an almost (but not quite) complete application package. They accepted it. Processing won’t begin until it’s 100% complete, but I was not turned away, and I will not have to make another appointment. I’ll take it! 🙂