Friday, February 4, 2011

Getting Our Italian Passports

The Passports
The Passports as Photographed at Cafe Zuni

Today we flew to San Francisco to apply for our Italian passports. (A previous post details the quest for citizenship, which we happily have!) Our appointments were for the late morning so we had plenty of time to get an early morning flight from Seattle, take the BART from the airport to the Civic Center stop, and walk the few miles to the Italian Consulate at 2590 Webster St.

We arrive at the consulate and hand over our paperwork at the sportello and prepare to wait. Note if you bring money to pay for the passport fee, bring change. We didn’t think to bring change and were missing 20 cents. (The cost of each passport this day was $109.10.) Our thinking was, here’s a one dollar bill, keep the change. But that does not work here. We end up borrowing 20 cents from someone in the waiting room.

A few minutes go by and the small waiting room starts filling up with people with all sorts of requests: someone collecting a pension, someone needing to have a legal document reviewed, someone with general questions, and others like us getting a passport. It starts to get a little tense. A form not filled out correctly by the pensioner starts some grumbling in those waiting. Then the person who handles passports comes out with his date book and informs us that we are there one month too early! I guess in our excitement we heard February 4th and not March 4th. Oops. He is very accommodating since we travelled to get there and asks us if we could come back in a one hour – which is fine by us. So off we go for a coffee and some hand-wringing.

We arrive back at the consulate later and the waiting room has cleared out and we are the only ones there. By the way did we have the 20 cents? Somehow in the time we were gone, the 20 cents disappeared. A quick trip several blocks away to buy a pack of gum and get 50 cents in dimes. Once inside the consulate (finally past the sportello!) everything goes smoothly and it takes about 25-30 minutes per person to process the passport information and create the passport on the spot! We walked out of the consulate with the passports!

We have to say that the folks there were great: from the staff working the sportello, to an intern who answered questions patiently, the man who processed our passports. They made our day.

The Italian Consulate, San Francisco (entrance is on the side to the right)
Italian Consulate San Francisco

View from Coit Tower
San Francisco Skyline from Coit Tower


  1. yay! now you have a place to go an hide out while eating risotto and ham!

  2. Ciao Ciao e Hello! I typed in Italian Consult San Fran and this came up! It seems like our blogs have some close writing. My mother is going on Oct 1st to SAN FRAN from SEATTLE! what are the odds! I am her son, in Chattanooga. I was wondering if we could maybe talk more about some questions I had. I am reading your post here and the past on the details, but I might have some questions outside of the post. Grazie per questo, piacere. Clifton


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