I thought I'd share my recent visa and passport related woes in the hope that someone might have had personal experience dealing with at least one of the issues and be able to inform me.
The consulate general in Hong Kong made a mistake in my new passport, spelling William with 3 Ls. I have to return it within 6 months of the issue date in order to have it corrected free of charge. Since my current visa only has 2 weeks left I will have to leave the country to get a new 3 month tourist visa before sending my passport off for correction.
The irritating bit is that I'm trying to book flights back to the UK for christmas and would like to do that as soon as possible to take advantage of reasonable prices. I may also use that trip home to organise a Z-visa.
This poses two questions:
1) Will my passport number change when I get the spelling mistake corrected? If not then it's all good and I can book flights now.
2) If I get the Z-visa issued while I'm in the UK over christmas it will be in a passport that, upon my return to China, I will have to send off immediately to Hong Kong for correction. Will it be simple to transfer the Z-visa over to the new/corrected passport?
What really pisses me off, though doesn't surprise me at all, is that I can't call the consulate for an answer to my question, but instead must call a private UK based service at 70p/min, on top of which I pay a 4 pound connection fee, and have to buy an international calling card.
Hurray for "Great" Britain.
So, pontificate away. I would be especially interested to hear if anyone has an answer to my first question as I feel the answer to number two is a yes...
Only chinese ticket agents require passport numbers. Since you're booking an international flight you have no reason to buy from a chinese agent unless you absolutely have to pay in RMB. If you're happy to pay in dollars, euros or pounds with an international credit card then just book from any number of online ticket agencies, its often cheaper than elong or ctrip anyway. Or you can book from an airline's site directly. Only the chinese ones require passport numbers.
Some airlines require you to give your passport number online but crucially NOT at the time of booking, that's only required later on if you want to reserve seats and do online check-in etc.
By the way I've usually found www.skyscanner.net is good. It isn't a ticket site but a flight price search engine which will redirect you to the ticket sites, most of which will take your booking without passport number.
My name in my passport is correct. At least 9/10 times my name is wrong on the air ticket. No one seems to care.
The name on the Z visa? Will it match your wrong name in the passport? That is interesting.
Strange. Usually the passport number is used for the E-ticket ID.
Unless things have changed, a new passport requires a new visa. Your old one will be cancelled.
@Geezer - only in China. I've never had to give a passport number when booking a ticket from an international website. Sometimes the airline's site has requested it for online check-in but not for booking.
Interesting to hear about the ticketing sites Greg, I was booking on edreams and they do require my passport number. I'll have a crack at skyscanner to see what comes up though.
Bad news then if what nnoble says is the case. I may have to postpone getting my z-visa sorted out until I get the corrected passport back from HK early next year. Not ideal as it means shelling out for 2 more tourist visas.
I have to say it's bloody crap work from the HK consulate in my opinion. They make it pretty damn hard for you to get hold of them.
UK consulates worldwide are turning into glorified trade missions and seem to resent dealing with anything not representing commercial value. Not so much a bumbling 'dads army' but a collection of school leavers and interns. Still, reading some of the problems USA expats have to endure from their lot, it could be worse. The exorbitant 'phone charges are there as a deterrent and if you turn to the Foreign Office website you will encounter an Alice in Wonderland experience.
Would contacting UKPA be easier and could they help in any way, even just general advice? Outside of peak holiday periods they usually do a professional job.
There used to be a local consular warden in Kunming - do they still exist? And the British Consulate-General Chongqing staff have been quite approachable in the past and prior to budget cuts, centralisation and 'efficiency' overhauls:
Office hours 0900 - 1700 / Mon - Fri Tel: 862363691500
PS Is there an outsourced hotline help desk operating from Bangalore? (sorry!)
ah thats interesting about edreams, most don't require passport number.
by the way, be careful with edreams. I used to use them a lot and haven't personally had bad experience with them but then I've never had to actually contact them - I've been lucky that my flights have never been cancelled or I've never had to make changes. There are some horror stories online about edreams customer service so beware.
About Visa on Passport, I will have to disagree with nnoble. I had the experience a few years back of a valid visa on a passport that ran out of validity with a new passport. The customs officers were not too happy about it, seems it generates more work for them, but i enter the country without problem.
When the consulat issued me the new passport I pointed out to them that the old one had my current visa, so they gave it back to me (cutting the top-right corner) with the new passport.
@ JingWei Nothing to disagree about here. Similar, if not identical, situation but at a different time and different officials involved.
I was advised differently and the advice seemed logical. A passport with the corner cut off is not a valid passport and therefore anything contained within is probably no longer extant. I have a growing collection of old passports with their corners cut off. I honestly don't know the legalities.
Glad to hear you got through immigration with little or no delay. But if I'm flying half way around the world I personally don't want my entry to the destination country to depend on which side of the bed an immigration official got up. 'Unhappy' immigration officials can make life difficult on a whim. Perhaps Chinese immigration are more inclined to apply common sense. On one occasion returning to China overland from Pakistan the officials couldn't find an exit stamp and so technically I hadn't left the country, but after pondering the situation for a 'very long minute' I was through. Another day, another official and the delay may have been much, much longer.
Now I would like to know the true legal status of an otherwise current visa in an expired passport since I only have a few blank pages left and the situation could arise again before too long.