Friday, October 14, 2011
Passport pirouette: Feeling criminal in Heathrow
Landing, for once, in an English-speaking country, I really didn't expect to have any problems at passport control. Two British airport employees who seemed to be watching the queue (I'm not sure of their real function!) were quite literally having a cup of tea and I felt like all was right with the world.
But then it was my turn at the immigration counter. All of a sudden, I was being quizzed. More than you'd expect. Why? It turned out that my new passport was the problem. I'd run out of pages in my previous passport and applied for a new one via the Australian embassy in Berlin, since I was living in Germany at the time. What I hadn't realised (and wouldn't have worried about if I had) was that for some reason, the Berlin embassy had then shipped my application over to London and my new Australian passport actually stated that it had been issued in London. What the British immigration officers didn't understand was how I could have a new passport issued in London if I hadn't actually been to London in the last few years. Fair point.
It took some explaining, and some random computer checking on their part, to explain my way out of this one. They let me in. And they let me keep my record of unpleasant experiences at Heathrow intact.