Saturday, July 3, 2010

U.S. Embassy in Prague

I needed extra visa pages added to my passport. Normally, you have to mail in your passport but since I’m required to carry my passport here I have the option of visiting a local embassy. Since I was going to be in Prague this weekend anyway, I made an appointment on Friday to visit the U.S. Embassy.

The American Embassy is in the Schoenborn Palace in Prague’s Malá Strana district. It was built from 1643 – 1656. It sits in four wings around three courtyards. The U.S. Government purchased the palace in 1925 for $117,000.

Like most embassies, security is tightly controlled. Before you can drive on the street, Czech police require you to get out of your car. You also have to open your hood and truck and a mirror is passed under your vehicle.

I showed my passport to get in to the building, went through security and had to check my backpack. Cameras and cell phones aren’t allowed inside so those got checked as well.

You even get art while you wait in the consular services section. Back in 2001, Renaissance-era ceiling paintings were discovered under some drop ceilings. After several years, the ceilings have been restored and they contain ornate images. Too bad I wasn’t allowed to have a camera with me. But here’s a picture I found on the Internet.

There was a guy there who lives in Prague and had his passport stolen. His problem was that he lost his passport in 2008, had it stolen in 2009 and again in 2010. Apparently U.S. law requires that his new passport will only be good for one year. If he can make it the full year then he can apply again for the normal 10-year passport. Poor guy. Let’s hope that I don’t ever have to go through that.

OK, back to me. I filled out the required paperwork in advance and brought it with me. I dropped off my passport and was told to come back in four hours to pick it up. I made sure to be on time because the embassy takes off for both U.S. and Czech holidays. If I didn’t make it there by the time they closed then I would have to go back to Prague the next week. No problems at all and I only spent a little over an hour in the embassy. The best part is that there was no fee to add blank pages to a valid passport.

I also solved a mystery of sorts. When you’re at the Prague Castle and looking towards Petřín, you see some sort of park or something and this huge American flag. I’ve never been able to figure out if it’s some kind of park or memorial or what. It’s part of the embassy. Behind the palace there is a terraced garden and orchard on seven acres that extends up the hillside. The Glorietta is the garden pavilion where the flag flies.

EDIT: I’m really glad that I had pages added when I did. Starting mid-July, the U.S. Government is raising prices for passports, renewals, etc. Having pages added was free and next week the fee will be $82. I would not have been happy if I had missed out on free.


  1. What a great idea for a blog post. Don't you love seeing all the emblems of Americana as you walk up the stairs in the Embassy such as Abe Lincoln's portrait? It's like being "home."

  2. Thank you for finding out about the American flag. You know how that has been a burning question on my mind since we first saw in in November. I am glad you have new pages in you passport. Now you can go on new adventures and I look forward to reading about them on your blog.