Sweden, with its generous government-mandated 5 weeks of paid vacation (4 of which can be taken in one go) has a well-earned reputation for sort of “shutting down” during the summer. This is because most Swedes quite naturally want to be off when the weather is best, resulting in large swaths of the country’s workforce being on vacation at the same time … usually in July and the first part of August.
It’s quite common for small businesses to just close their doors for a month while the staff enjoys its summer “semester” … a practice that has always baffled me, quite frankly. How does a company turn a good yearly profit if it closes down for 4 weeks every summer? Government services, while never suspended completely, can be seriously slow during the summer months. In fact, I’ve heard it’s quite common for couples to factor the typical shortage of medical personnel in hospitals this time of year into their family planning, making summer birthdays kind of rare, or at least unintentional.
So the general rule is to try to avoid having to do business with government agencies during the summer months. Unfortunately, we were not able to avoid it this year due to our Swedish passports expiring within a month of each other, starting with Dr. Darling‘s this week. So we visited the passport office on Tuesday morning to get the ball rolling. After paying the 350 SEK (about $40 USD) and being photographed and fingerprinted, we were told our new passports would be ready in 5 business days. “Yeah, right,” I thought. “I’ll believe that when I see it.”
Which is why I was STUNNED to receive a text message THIS MORNING saying that my new passport was ready! I had to pick my jaw up off the floor to tell Dr. Darling, who got a similar text message less that 30 seconds later. AMAZING. We were actually in possession of our renewed passports almost exactly 48 hours after we’d applied for them. Of course had we needed them that quickly, it probably would have taken twice as long … though that would still be under the 5 business days we were told.
I think it’s a safe bet that renewing my US passport this fall is going to be a lot more complicated and expensive.