Faces only a border official could love.

Another unexpected issue with a Spanish-Canadian family is dealing with bureaucracy.  Just to identify ourselves we have multiple passports and identity cards issued by two countries.  Then you add drivers licenses, mortgages, banks and we are single-handedly boosting employment in the adminstration sector.

We are forever gathering papers, making appointments, standing in lines and cursing officials over some kind of paper.  After the famous passport fiasco of 2010, we actually have a list with all our various documentation and when it must be renewed.  It’s mind-boggling.

It’s passport season for both boys.  And first identity card for Río.  So, off we went to take passport photos.

Have you taken a passport photo lately?  You aren’t allowed to smile, wear glasses, or a burka or have more than exactly 8 mm of white space surrounding your head.  So imagine trying to make sure your 7 week old baby is awake, not crying, supporting his head, and looking at the camera.  Then, convincing your toddler to put his cracker down, not cry, jump, laugh, move or run from the slightly hysterical woman with the strange black box, begging him to sit still.

Good times.

The whole idea of baby ID makes me giggle.  Imagine them tracking down Río.

  • Hair color, (not sure, doesn’t have any)
  • Eye color:  dark blue, just like every infant before they actually develop their own color.
  • Height and weight:  definitely changed long before we reach an airport security line-up.
  • Other identifiable features:  no tattoos or piercings yet, but an impressive yellow skid mark in his diaper if you care to investigate.

Yago was four months old on his first trip to Canada and they patted him down going through security.  Seriously.

Since the boys are Spanish nationals, they get to make an appointment to get their passports.  Next on the paperwork list is my Spanish residency card.  As an immigrant, I get to stand in line at 5:00am and hope to receive a number, so I can stand around and wait the rest of the day for the opportunity to be mistreated by a bureaucrat and beg for my residency card.

But we are amassing a nice collection of official mug shots.

Here is Yago’s first passport photo.

The border official in Vancouver actually laughed when I presented this.

And Yago’s first Spanish ID card.   The prototype Spanish national, don’t you think?

And here is the renewed passport.  Hair combing was not a priority this day.

And this is Río’s first appearance before the official camera.

He could easily have a bomb hidden in those squirrel pouches.

If you see these two characters looking suspicious in the security line, check  the diapers for identifying features.



  1. Reading this certainly brightened up my morning! I shall think of your tale fondly every time I am stuck in line waiting for something. “Just check the diaper” 🙂

  2. Not sure about a bomb in the squirrel pouches but definitely in the diaper!

    I concur that passport photos for infants are completely ridiculous. Honestly, it’s just a way for them to justify another 100 bucks. I was looking at Charlie’s passport and thinking ‘Yeah, he’s a cute one that Henry…’ So if a mother can’t distinguish between her own kids how in the hell can Homeland Security??

    Thanks for the laugh!

  3. Waiting for my Chinese Visa too. and yes us cross cultural couples really do have time with those paper pushers don’t we. It is Karma for me though because that is also how I earn my living 🙂

  4. Laughing out loud. I took my boys for their first passport photos when whey were 1.5 and 3.5 to, of all venues, a high-end camera and glass store (I had a cold and was clearly sleep deprived). So while I tried to coax each one into the appropriate visage of solemnity, requiring at least 5 takes each the other ran around like a lunatic amongst the displays. Then I had my own photo done while both ran around among the displays. Needless to say I looked stressed in the photo imagining that it might become a $1500 passport. When we passed through customs this spring, the customs official noted that I look 10 years younger in person, than in the photo.

  5. We also had the infant passport photos of Daughter 1 done around 40 days old with mama’s fingers holding up the sleepy, floppy baby head. I was told that no part of me was to be visible in the photo or it would not be accepted. But a finger tip got in. And they accepted it anyway.
    Also brings back memories of Daughter 1 signing her 3rd passport in the comisaria, age 4 and a half. Big capital letters, so proud of herself, so sweet.

    And that reminds me that they are currently passport-less since we have been too broke to go anywhere since moving back to the UK.

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