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A day in Nigeria High Commission London

Certain things have to be done after you get married, e.g. changing your name with various government institutions which no one tells you in advance can be a bit of a pain and involve taking time off work to sort out. I think the most annoying of it is when you need to change your name with your banks, office, embassy, on your visa, driving license etc and they all asking for the original copy of the marriage license and it is like okay… I can’t give you the original right now because it is with DVLA. I quickly realised I had to prioritize and luckily, I am nearly at the end of my list with just one more important place to change my name.

That was what lead me to the Nigeria High Commission in London this morning. I woke up dreading the day I knew I was going to have there. I hope if I got there early enough, I would be done before lunch and make it back to work to work the rest of the afternoon. Obviously, a lot of other Nigerians were hoping the same thing too and as you would expect, the embassy was already packed when I got there.

I tried my best to prepare for today last night as I didn’t want them to have an excuse to not issue my new passport and make me come back another time and take another day off work to come and sit in the chaos of what is the embassy. So I double checked my list and printed and photocopied everything they asked for. Despite the fact their website isn’t the least help. For example, if you click here, it says to bring £25 pounds in postal order for the “service” and another £15 in postal orders for the “processing fee”. This is in addition to paying $60 for my new passport o. Ask me what the difference between the service and processing fee is and I won’t be able to tell you. However, on this same website, if you click here , it used to say bring £20 postal order payable to Nigeria High Commission (bear in mind they have changed the information on this part of their website probably because of the conversation I had with them today. I thought I was mad for a second, but luckily, I have it printed out, the page I printed yesterday). Despite the fact they changed it, there is still the discrepancy between the two pages. I also called them because I was so confused about how to go about changing my name on my passport and the lady told me to come with £25 postal order!

On this same website, if you click here, it says to come with a copy of your husband’s passport, however, if you click here, it says to come with your husband’s original passport. So you can imagine how annoying all these conflicting information was. I decided to take the maximum of everything they asked for. I went to the post office, bought £40 postal order in one £20, one £10 and two £5 just so if it was £20, and if it was £25 and £15, I had those options as well, I was in no mood to dash anyone money as they can’t give me change in postal orders.

Anyway, as I walked towards the embassy, my friend sent me a blackberry asking me for a copy of our wedding programme so she could get ideas for her wedding and I told her I was at the embassy and didn’t have the internet access to email it to her. She then goes “That place is a fraud hole, don’t pay the £20 for postal order” and I’m like, I have already bought the postal orders and what if they don’t attend to me without the postal orders, basically, I didn’t have time to waste arguing with them. She goes “didn’t you see it on the internet? It is a scam”. I just said there was nothing I could do about it, especially as their website asked for it and surely if it was a scam, they won’t advertise it publicly on their website.

I was greeted at the door by security with a “where are your documents?” What documents? I have a lot. He goes on to collect my folder from me and starts to search for my payment confirmation slip. I showed him the receipt I printed off and apparently, it wasn’t the same as the payment confirmation form. I had to go to the business centre in the embassy to get it printed. There were loads of people there already and only one woman surly attending to us. I asked if there was a queue and people just laughed and said no. So I tactfully assumed my position as close to the front as possible, when in Rome, behave like the Romans. There were people in front of me there for different reasons. Anyway, to cut the long story short, the gist of the matter was, to print out that payment confirmation sheet that I could have printed for free at home, I had to pay 30p to use the internet for 15 minutes plus a minimum of £1 to print (allows to print 5 pages).Basically, to print that one sheet of paper that does exactly the same thing as the receipt I printed, I had to pay £1.30. It did not break the bank but it is just the principle! After waiting for an hour to get my one page printed, I finally had my turn, printed it and went back to pick a ticket to wait for my turn.

Luckily, the wait was not so long, I had my turn, the man collected my documents and then asked me for £60 postal order! I was like shoo? In my head I am thinking, there is no way I am walking all the way to the post office to buy more postal order and then come back here and wait for my turn again. So I explained to the man, the website says £20 on one page and then £25 and £15 on another so I only brought £40. He then smiles and says they need to sort out that website and tells me not to worry. He kept my £40. 30 minutes later, I hear my name on the intercom so I went back to the window and the man gives me back £20 saying they are supposed to collect £40 extra pounds from me, however, seeing as there was a mistake on their website, they will give me back £20 pounds! I said thank you, collected my money and went back to wait.

Waited another 2 hours and then it was my turn for them to take my biometric details for my new passport. In the room I sat in, one of the staff announces that the little girl who went missing in the UK on Monday (I think) was dead! Click here to see the live updates of the police’s progress on her abduction. Immediately he announced that, my first instinct was.. where did he get that information from. On his screen, he was entering biometric details of the lady he was dealing, so I couldn’t see where he got that information from. Naturally, other staff members started spreading the news, majority of them really angry at the fact that innocent girl was supposedly dead. I thought it was such a shame that she was dead, but a part of me just didn’t believe it.

Imagine my surprise when I got home and saw on the news that they were still looking for her! More proof that some people relish is sharing bad news, despite the fact it may be false!

As a positive, the embassy has definitely improved, but we still have a long way to go. We will get there some day. Plus, they really need to be more transparent with the fees they charge people for their services. There is definitely something dodgy going on there.

Angel

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45 thoughts on “A day in Nigeria High Commission London

  1. Willow on said:

    Typical Nigerians, always dis organised! Imagine the obvious contradictions, can we blame Jonathan for that as well as everything wrong with our Country? We need re-orientation and we need to change how we do things and get things done,God help our Country. At least you have sorted it out 🙂

  2. I have really heard a lot about this place. I pray I don’t have reasons to deal with them. See me talking sef, when I get to face worse government agencies in Nigeria, lol

  3. You experienced mini Nigeria at the embassy. Imagine those of us who live and deal with the chaos everyday in the country.
    Pele.

  4. That place is not for the faint hearted at all.
    I had a meeting nearby once (Commonwealth Club) and I came out to see two Nigerians arguing on the pavement. No be small ting my sister
    xxxxxxxxx

  5. There is something fishy for sure. Glad you got your stuff done.

  6. mstizzle on said:

    Loooolll, eeyah and my aunt works there o. I’ve had lunch with her there several times and that place is Nigeria itself. I’ve been privileged to go to the Nigerian embassy in Rome as well and it was the same thing! Maybe it’s the training they get but very few things are straightforward. I think they enjoy the chaos.

    Glad you sorted that one out sha. Pele dear.

    • Lol they certainly enjoy chaos! You are even talking about training! If they get training and they are like this, they shouldn’t have bothered with the training! Lol I was hoping you would say rome was better

  7. itune005 on said:

    wow!!!! so it could be that stressful
    at least thank God its now past tense

    • Lol abi o. I tell you, I had it good. Its those going to nigeria for the first time that expect the embassy to be helpful I pity. All I ask for (for now) is a useful website! Filled with correct legal information that doesn’t contradict itself

  8. ahn ahn, naija for show, no matter where we are, nigerians just tend to be “somehow” especially public agency workers.

    *whining* I didn’t know I would have to do a change of name and all that stress, oooh

    • lol you better know! especially if you are in the UK. I am not sure how it works in Nigeria, but I don’t think it would be different. You just need to make sure your passport, visas (where relevant), work, banks and other people say utility companies have your married name.

  9. OMG – so i am in the process of trying to update my passport due to my name change and the website is just so confusing! Any other advice on how to navigate this useless system?

    • Lol this may be redundant help as I did it ages ago. But just go throw all the info on the website, where the information is conflicting, go with the maximum number of the two info they have requested, print out everything and photocopy everything. I know it’s quite generic but you never know with those people

  10. Thanks for sharing your story. i just want to be very sure of something… so i can do a change of name after marriage on my passport here in the uk without having to go all the way to abuja… Could you please help clarify the necessary process as i could find any help on the nigerian website. thanks

    • I believe so. If you live here, all you need to do if it is still the same as it was when I did mine is, complete the form online, pay for it online, book an appointment. You will still need some money in the form of postal order to take with you. I am not sure how much it is now. Print every thing , take two or three copies if you can but of you can’t, they have a business centre in the place. I’m not sure if this is much help, but I hope it helps a little.

      • Honestly better to do these things in Nigeria now. Not had experience of this particular instance. But both new passport and visa application within my family.

        Both now cost almost £200! And no one will do the sum for you o, they will be collecting one by one, till you get to the last one and if you change your mind at the end, no refund…..

        At least in Nigeria N25,000 (this includes the egunje) and you are done.

      • Lol @ egunje. But you have a good point, that’s if one already had plans to kg to Nigeria, otherwise the cost of the ticket defeats the purpose.

  11. Funny experience. I want to apply for a change of name and my e-passport expires in June. On the website after clicking the apply here button, under the passport section, what option should I choose, e-passports or change of name. The change of name option gives the processing centre as only Nigeria and I’m confused since I want to have it done in the UK.

    • Hi Buki, unfortunateky i did this so long ago now i dont remember the process 😦 i hope you were able to figure it out.

    • Hi Buki. It took me a couple of weeks to get through that part. You basically have to start that part of the application like you’re applying for a new passport- then the option for different parts of the world pops up. To be fair i’m yet to go through my interview so wish me luck! All the best with yours- such a massive pain in the backside..sigh!

      • Hi Lola, since its for change of name. In the place where it says surname, do you put your new surname that you want reflected on your new passport or do you use your maiden name and then explain at the embassy that you are there to change your name (with all the required docs)? Thanks.

  12. Hi Kemi. I’m sure this is too late but I used my new surname. Sorry for the delay in reply.

    • Thanks Lola, I was at the HC yesterday. So yes I used my new surname and since all my bank cards are in my maiden name, I couldn’t pay online. I paid cash at the HC and a few other people did too even though the official at the door tried to use double standards by allowing a woman go in to pay with cash and attempting to send me back saying I ought to go to Fleet Street to pay there. Oh well, another official took me to where I could pay by cash, then it was my turn to go to the counter with my docs and after that biometrics and then it was all over. Didnt spend up to 3hrs there and that was because of my payment issue. If anyone wants his/her passport sent to him/her, then they should included a self addressed special delivery envelop along with their application.

      • Thanks for sharing Kemi, this is great progress especially as you can put a self addressed envelope to have your passport posted back to you!

      • Hello Kemi,

        Please how much did you pay in total? The website still shows conflicting advice and its still showing the only option of paying in Nigeria.

  13. Hi, I was at the HC over two weeks ago to renew my passport. I don’t want to go into details of what happened there but I was glad I got to eat moi-moi wrapped with local leaves in their new ‘restaurant’ as I have craved it for weeks.
    Anyway, has anyone used the special delivery envelopes and how long does it take? I’m been trying to ring thme but they seem too busy to answer.
    Thanks.

    • I haven’t o but I doubt I trust them! Lol I guess we should give them benefit of doubt. I’m applying shortly for my sons passport so I will share my experience but please let us know if the special delivery envelopes work.

      • Yeah it worked. I live in in Berkshire and dreaded going back to NHC. I want to travel this month-end and was wondering if I made a mistake using special delivery but its all good. It is guaranteed to arrive before 1pm next day but give NHC 2 weeks plus to process it.
        The other thing is I was renewing my e- passport after the initial 5 year expired. I thought the passport has ten year validity and asked the guy if I was getting a new passport or renewing the old one but the ‘big man’ hushed me up and told me he asks the questions!
        Wetin I go do na? I was surprised when it arrived and I got an entirely new passport with a new number.
        Glad to have it in time though so no complaints.

  14. Sharon on said:

    Myself and daughter went to NHC last week and like many, was dreading it! I must say it was no where as bad as I’d thought it’ll be, we spent in total about 4 hours there and that includes losing our initial ticket & the fact that we were both applying for a brand new passport. I really could not fault them, I think the problem sometimes occur when people don’t adhere to their requirements and then try to use “ogboju” to get their way…….. I might be the odd one out but kudos to NHC – you exceeded my expectations!

  15. Please can any body give the latest update on how to change name and renew the e passport together,because am a bit lost trying to do it online,thanks

  16. Please tell me how you applied for a change of name on your passport…

    Did you apply for a brand new passport
    I live in the UK and I’m starting to thing I can’t apply for change of name in the UK, it’s so confusing

    What’s the name of the form you used

    • Hi Lola, unfortunately the rules have changed since I did mine three years ago. I won’t be able to help on this. However, I have heard from friends that you can’t do this change in the Uk. Good luck with your application.

    • VivLaw on said:

      Hi Lola,

      Did you finally figure out how to change the name in your Nigerian e passport in the UK?

      Look forward to your reply.

      Thanks.

  17. VivLaw on said:

    Thanks for the post.

    I know this is an old post but please could you advise what form you filled in to change your name?

    I am unable to fill out the change of name form because the processing country is Nigeria and cannot be changed to any other country.

    So did you just fill in the new e passport application form?

    Look forward to your reply.

    Thanks

    • Hello, a few friends have asked me the same question as shortly as a year after I got married and everything seems to have changed. I’m sorry this is not helpful but goodluck.

  18. Skiks on said:

    Hi VivLaw, I had the same question and I called the NHC and fortunately got through to their customer service. Here is what they told me….. Go to the Nigerian Immigration Website and apply online as though you are applying for a new e-passport (remember to use your maiden name as appears on your current passport when filling the form online). Make the necessary payments online and print out you payment confirmation and payment acknowledgment slip. You will be given an interview date. Go with all relevant documents indicating your change of name – (marriage certificate, Hubby’s passport/photocopy and Consent letter for change of name + two postal orders of £25 and £15). When it gets to your turn for the interview, indicate to them that you are doing change of name by marriage and they’ll process it under that category.

    Goodluck

    • VivLaw on said:

      Hi Skiks,

      Thanks so much for your reply. My application process was similar to yours, however, there were two differences:

      1. I applied using my marriage surname , as one of the requirements was that my payment card had to have the same name as that on my application form. As I had already changed my name at my bank, I had no choice but to use my marriage surname. My application was accepted without any issues at the NHC.

      2. As per the requirements shown in the appointment slip I printed out, it indicated that I should provide a postal order of £20 for the change of name application, due to marriage. Again this was accepted without any issues.

      Thank you Angelbeauty for providing a platform where we can share these type of issues.

  19. Skiks on said:

    Nice blog this!

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