Passport Renewall
November 24, 2016 7:10 AM   Subscribe

I'm an American who has lived in Amsterdam for the past 7 years. I work for a travel company, and have to go to the US at least once a month. Although my passport doesn't expire for another three years, it is now full and no longer valid as each trip to the US takes up one page of stamps (one stamp for entering the US, one stamp for leaving the US, and then the same for Holland). I rarely travel outside of Europe for personal reasons, and more than 3/4 of the stamps in my passport are from work. I now need a new passport due to my extensive work travel, my company will not help chip in for a new one. I have another work trip next week, and now need to pay for an expedited passport on top of the regular fees for the new document. Am I being unreasonable in thinking my employer should help pay for this?
posted by alipie to Work & Money (15 answers total)
I don't think it's unreasonable to want that, but if they won't, I don't know what sort of recourse you have. Maybe you can at least deduct this expense from your US taxes?
posted by thelonius at 7:16 AM on November 24, 2016 [3 favorites]

It's not unreasonable, no. My company would pay all fees associated with this kind of thing. But, like thelonius said, if this isn't your company's policy I'm not sure what you can do about it.
posted by something something at 7:34 AM on November 24, 2016

Hmm it's somewhat annoying but not much you can do if you already asked and they said no. I was in a similar situation and it didn't even occur to me to ask my workplace to chip in for the new passport. But I feel like I make a decent salary- it I were underpaid I'd be more reluctant to pay any expenses out of pocket.
posted by emd3737 at 7:36 AM on November 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

You can both be right. The company views you having a usable passport as part of the job requirement that's covered by your salary and you view it as a business expense that should be covered by them. Both views are rational and unfortunately because you're well past the negotiation stage you don't have a lot of strength unless you're willing to leave the job over it or local laws cover it.
posted by Candleman at 7:39 AM on November 24, 2016 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Do you get the benefits from the frequent flyer miles? Do you get a per diem that lets you eat better than you otherwise would?

Do you pay for luggage, travel and work clothes, expenses incident to being out of town (pet sitter, security system)?

I think it's likely that the cost of the additional passport renewals falls well within the slop between the normal benefits and costs of a travel heavy job. If passports expired after seven years, would you balk at paying for the renewal?

If your company requires such frequent travel that that only way you could ever renew is by expediting it, because you can't be without your passport during the processing time, it would be fair for them to pay the extra cost for that service.

Pro tips: get the larger passport. Become a Trusted Traveler and go through the automated passport control as they often do not stamp passports in that process. Ask them not to stamp; I have to ask to get a stamp half the time.
posted by Capri at 8:00 AM on November 24, 2016 [9 favorites]

On a slightly related note, you can request to be issued a passport with extra pages to help stretch the life of your next passport. I believe this is free. (They used to allow you to get extra pages added to an existing passport, but stopped doing that at the start of this year.)

To actually answer the question, it strikes me as possibly not unreasonable to ask that they help pay for the expedited service, assuming you haven't been sitting there with a full passport knowing about this upcoming trip for three months or something. Renewing your passport is surely on you though--it's part of the cost of living overseas.
posted by hoyland at 8:01 AM on November 24, 2016 [8 favorites]

It's reasonable for them to pay it but it's also reasonable for them to consider having a usable passport a condition of employment.

I have never had my passport stamped by the U.S. upon leaving. Why is that happening?
posted by grouse at 8:47 AM on November 24, 2016 [3 favorites]

I live in Europe too and travel to the US at least 3-4 times a year. Some observations about your question.

1. Once a month strikes me as a lot of travel to the US. I mean, you are ok because you are a US citizen but normally the US wouldn't be allowing someone to come over this frequently without requiring some sort of business visa. Your company must know this. So it sounds like they are sort of relying on your US passport status. I don't know if this helps in framing the request.

2. I don't understand what you mean with " stamp for entering the US, one stamp for leaving the US..." as I don't have any stamps from the US either for entering or leaving. This goes back for at least 5 years. And this counts flights into a dozen US cities at least. Why/where are you getting stamped?
I understand the NL stamp (assuming you are not an EU citizen) but thats just one stamp per trip as you enter.
posted by vacapinta at 9:19 AM on November 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

My European company would and has paid for my U.S. passport as I need it to visit the U.S for work. However, there are other things they probably should pay for but don't, such as tips that I leave for my meals while travelling. Ultimately you (and I) just have to decide whether this is the hill we want to die on. Overall I'm very happy with my job and remuneration package and don't think it's worth being branded as a troublemaker for complaining about the details.
posted by hazyjane at 9:29 AM on November 24, 2016

This does not seem reasonable to me, no. Presumably having a passport is a requirement for your job.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:44 AM on November 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

This probably depends on what you do for a living. If you're a tour guide leading American college kids around, my guess is that this is one of those things that either would be prohibitively expensive for your company to underwrite for its huge workforce, or they feel like they can get away with it for one reason or another. If you work in the corporate world, especially for a company or in a position where relatively few people have this issue, yes, this is the kind of perk your employer should be able to offer you.

This is from the perspective of someone who works in a field with certain standard operating procedures which fall far outside the bounds of people with white collar "bankers' hours" office jobs. There are plenty of things employers "should" offer, that my employers typically don't offer, and there's nothing I can do about any of it because it's standard in my field.
posted by Sara C. at 10:57 AM on November 24, 2016

I think it is unreasonable. It's analogous situation to, if you owned a suit, and 75% of the time you wore the suit was to work because your workplace requires wearing a suit to meet clients, and you wore the suit so much that it wore out and now you need a new one, should your work pay for your new suit? And I think in that scenario people would say, "of course not". (To further stretch the analogy, US tax code takes a similar view of work-related clothing that your employer requires you to buy -- it's only deductible as a work-related expense if it's not something you could reasonably wear on personal time. Safety goggles and McDonalds uniforms are deductible; suits and dress shoes are not. Applying the same logic to the passport, it would only be a work expense if you used it purely for business travel.)

The part that would be reasonable is, if, as hoyland says, there was no way you could do your required work trips without paying for expedited service, because work was making you travel so frequently that you couldn't give up your passport for the required processing interval. In that case, I think it would be reasonable for them to pay the expedition fee.
posted by phoenixy at 11:08 AM on November 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'm confused where all these stamps are coming from. If you use the automated passport kiosks or the mobile passport control app (where available) at the airport (or sign up for Global Entry if you can, since you travel so frequently), you shouldn't get a stamp from the US on entry at all, and the US does not stamp anybody's passport on exit.
posted by zachlipton at 11:27 AM on November 24, 2016

I don't think the employer should pay for this.

When you do renew the passport though be sure to check the box on the DS-82 form for 'large book' not 'normal book.' The large book option gives you more pages for free. I think some people overlook this because large book sounds weird and isn't immediately obvious that it means free extra pages.
posted by bluelight at 6:41 PM on November 24, 2016

Response by poster: Just to follow up on some of the questions regarding all of the stamps - I usually fly in and out of Logan which has international clearance at the airport and requires an additional security check and a stamp before departure.

I ended up paying for all of the costs - pretty annoying but thank you for all of the thoughts and comments.
posted by alipie at 5:30 PM on May 18, 2017

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