Quickie: Biometric bureaucracy swaps sanity for safety in Turkey

Biometrical Turkish PassportImage via Wikipedia

Işıl Eğrikavuk has a first person account in Turkey‘s Hürriyet Daily News about the country’s new biometric passports:

The biometric passports, or e-passports, introduced June 1 in Turkey are supposed to make travel easier and reduce the amount of time spent at borders and customs checkpoints.
These features give e-passports a higher level of security and make it easier to verify a traveler’s identity, hence preventing identity theft and document forgery. Officials say they also represent an important phase in Turkey’s EU harmonization process.
On June 9, I went to the Eyüp police station, right at the appointed time, and with all my papers ready. I was still confident that I could apply for a passport, but as I moved through the bureau, the cold truth hit me. “We can’t see the online appointments, you have to come here at 6 a.m. and put your name on the list,” an officer said. He was not joking. My eyes started to well up with tears.

For the third time, I had been turned away, and I had a valid passport in my hand. What could I say? I had even received a text message the day before reminding me about my appointment. I tried explaining this, but they repeated the same words: “We cannot see the online appointments. You have to come here early.”

The next day I woke up at 5 a.m. and went to Eyüp. I was in front of the police station at 6 a.m., yet I was already the 26th person on the list. A police officer told me that people had started to show up at 3 a.m. “We started writing their names at 5:30 a.m.,” he said. “You are lucky to have put your name down, because they only take 40 people a day.”
I waited for six long hours at the police station. At a quarter to noon, my name was called. I was fingerprinted and joined the line to present my papers.

“I cannot see your passport registration in the archives,” the officer said. “You need to either go to the police office where you first got your passport, or you need to apply for a new one. But if you apply for a new one, we can’t transfer your valid dates into your new passport. You have to pay to extend your new passport’s date.”

So this was my choice: Go to another station and wait for another six hours, or pay 754 liras to get a new passport valid for five years. I was out of time, strength and patience. I paid the money.
Getting an e-passport costs 71 euros in Belgium and 28 euros in Estonia (both valid for five years.) In Italy, the cost is 44 euros and the passport is valid for 10 years. In Russia, a passport valid for 10 years costs the equivalent of 66 euros.

Mine cost me the equivalent of 394 euros.

At prices like that, Turkey surely has the world’s most expensive passport.
If the e-passports really make Turkey more prestigious, give me humble and simple any day.

Read the whole thing here.