Think of your international passport as a crucial part of your body, say your heart – well at least it is for every traveler and nomad. When something terrible happens to your heart there is need for an urgent surgery or transplant. In Nigeria, you will be put on a waiting list before you get a new heart. This long wait can typically last from three weeks to three months, but first you will have to get your business in order.
The instances where you will need a new passport can range from expired, lost, stolen, to a damaged passport. In my case my passport was stolen and I was banged up abroad (story coming soon to Naija Nomads). If you are curious on how a Nigerian survived in a border city between Africa and Europe without a passport, bank cards and a dime then my next article is a must-read. However, for the purpose of this post I will detail the process of reporting a stolen passport and obtaining a new passport afterwards.
You will require the following to obtain a new passport.
- Police Report
- Court Affidavit
- Copy of data page of old passport
- Patience and Time
Once you have the aforementioned, you can head out to the immigration office to file for a new passport. However, I’ll further break down the procedure for obtaining each of the items on the checklist and hope it helps someone out there.
OBTAINING A POLICE REPORT
Just like any police report, you walk into a police station and file a report! With passport related issues, once your passport gets missing, lost or damaged, locally or internationally, you’ll be required to file a report at the nearest police station in Nigeria. My passport got stolen in Morocco so I had filed the police report in Morocco. This aided me in getting temporary travel papers. The travel papers were temporary passport which I used to fly back into Nigeria. I assumed the report I obtained from Morocco will be applicable in Nigeria. This was not the case as I was asked to file a fresh police report in Nigeria.
Process: To obtain a police report simply walk into the police station and file a report. You will have to state details surrounding whatever incidence that led to your passport being stolen or damaged. If it is a station where cases like this is common they will have a template which you can just adopt. I advise you go to a police station close to an immigration office or court (since a lot of people who swear affidavit most times need a police report of some sort). The statement will cover the details of your passport data page.
Cost: Depending on your location this can range from N2000 – N5000. I paid N3000.
Wait Period: 1-2 HOURS
Alternatively, you can have an agent do this for you if you hate going through the police process. Since they work with the police this is usually faster, and the fee can range from N3500 to N6000 depending on your haggling skills. This might be illegal however. Wait period for this is 30 mins to 1 hour.
OBTAINING AN AFFIDAVIT
Again, you can boycott this process if you use an agent and this will come at a fee. Fees can range from N3000 – N7000. However, I doubt the legality of this considering that affected individual has to swear an oath that the passport was lost, missing, or damaged. I went to the high court in Ikeja GRA. Before I got there, I had people who knew people that could ‘help’ out with it but I wanted to do it myself and go through the right channel.
When I arrived at the gate the security men claimed to be knowledgeable and before I could say ‘A’ I was attached to a guy who wanted to charge about 2-3k. All I had to do was chill and he would get it done in 20 minutes. I declined because I was already there. I had forgotten my passport photograph so I was charged N500 for fresh photos.
After taking the photos, I went to the Oath office and was referred to a lady who typed the statement for me. Again, you can do this yourself. Type, print out your statement and attach your passport to the affidavit. You’ll cut through the process and save time. The next point was the payment office where the affidavit was stamped and signed.
While the court stays open till evening or late afternoon the office in charge of payment and stamping of documents closes by 3pm. I had to race to make it inside before they locked the gate. Depending on the crowd present you can spend between 10 mins to 2 hours. In my case, I spent nearly 3 hours inside the room. Like in almost every government office in Nigeria, the officials in charge of this are really slow and somewhat rude.
Once you get in you first have to meet an official that puts a time stamp of your document. After which you will join the line for payment. I stayed in that queue and just when it got to my turn the official ran out of receipts and she did not say a word. She just pulled up all the receipts she had accumulated for the day and started tearing out the duplicate receipts, after which she pulled out a calculator and started balancing her books. At this point I asked what’s up she then told me in the most unfriendly manner to join another line.
I joined another queue and after about 20mins the official manning it told us we should join yet another queue. Of course, I saw people come in and slip the officials documents which they attended to while we stayed on the line. Basic corruption. I wanted to call them out but was in my good vibe bubble and didn’t want to start a scene. I ignored them all. In retrospect, I should have rebuked them.
After what felt like forever, it got to my turn. In between all of this we had a lady cry and complain about waiting for too long and how inhumane they were for making her wait that long when she had a baby in the car. Anyway, after getting the affidavit stamped, you’ll be asked to drop a photocopy for records sake.
Cost: I ended up spending N1500 in total. N500 for the passport, N500 for the lady that typed and the processing and stamping was N500. But since you have read this you will spend just N500.
Process Hack: Learn from my mistake – go to the court in the morning with you passport photograph and your typed document (type yourself), get a number, have your document stamped, make payment, photocopy it and you are done. You will spend just N500 for a basic affidavit. I saw people pay a lot more so depending on your type of affidavit you might spend more.
Wait Period: 10mins to 2 hours.
PASSPORT DATA PAGE
Having copies of this can save your life when things go south. You will need to make copies of this because the police will need it, the immigration office will need it too. So ensure you have a picture of your passport data page saved somewhere so you can pull it out whenever you need it and make copies of it.
Wait Period : 5 seconds to 10 minutes
You will need money to process everything.
Wait Period: 1 min – use an ATM or Transfer. Ha!
OBTAINING A NEW PASSPORT
Once you have every item ready, head out to the immigration office closest to you because they are all the same to be honest. This time I went to the one in Ikeja since Ikoyi office stressed me the last time I was there. Unlike renewal or getting a passport for the first time, the process is different and longer. You will first be required to file for it and upon approval then you can ‘capture’ and the new passport will be prepared.
Process: To file, you will be required to submit all your documents and make payment. The filed document is then sent to the Abuja office for further investigation. If you committed a crime, a flight risk, or anything, I guess this is the process that helps the state immigration weed you out.
Since that is not the case with nomads, the approval will be granted. The submission process can take from 30 mins to 3 hours depending on the crowd at the passport office. A good rule of thumb will be to ensure you arrive at their office early in the morning for any chance of getting out before noon.
Wait time for approval: 2 weeks – 4 weeks
Cost: N70,000 (this was a one-time fee to reapplication, submission, and everything) For renewal it is a complete different process and a much cheaper cost.
Once the approval is granted you will be called by an immigration official to come in for capturing. To capture, ensure you go super early. Hopefully before 9 am. Depending on the crowd you will be ticketed and issued a waiting number. Once it gets to your turn you will be then called in where the capturing will be done.
COLLECTION OF PASSPORT
For collection, the same thing as capturing applies. A number is issued and in addition your name taken down. When it gets to your turn you will be called into a room where they will take your thumbprints and have you sign and only then your fresh passport will be issued.
Wait Time for Collection: 2 weeks to 2 months depending on booklet availability.
Total wait time: 2 – 3 months
Do you love or do you LOVEEEE how detailed this post is? Big shout out to Michael Ernest for sending this piece our way. When he told us he lost his passport in Morocco and planned to get a new one, we asked him to detail his entire experience as it will be something people would love to read. He did an excellent job and we are sure if our passports ever get lost, stolen or misplaced, we know exactly what to do!
Ever gone through this frustrating passport renewal process? We’ll love to hear from you, drop a comment or two in the comment box!