If you compare the signatures on all my U.S. identification documents and credit cards, no two are exactly alike, and one in particular looks very different from all the rest. That’s the one on my passport. It has a few swirls in it that aren’t present in any of my other signatures.
I don’t really know why I deviated from normal signature on that particular day back in 2011. Perhaps I was trying to make my customary collection of illegible swirls more closely resemble the actual letters in my name. In any case, it looks quite different from how I normally sign my name.
The irregular signature in my passport was never an issue until I moved to Mexico in 2015. That’s when my passport transitioned from being merely a travel document to my primary source of identification.
It became the document that I used to obtain all of my Mexican forms of identification (e.g. resident card, drivers license), open a bank account, purchase property, and change the utilities into my name.
The problem was that in Mexico, a great deal of importance is placed on signatures. As a result, the signature on important documents must match the signature from the identification exactly. Almost as though it had been traced or it will be rejected. Just being close is not good enough.
As an added security precaution, a copy of the identification used is included with the signed document.
So, the irregular signature in my passport effectively became my official signature in Mexico. It now appears on every piece of Mexican identification that I have and on every important document that I have signed in the last three and a half years.
It took quite a bit of practice to learn a whole new signature after all these years.
If At First You Don’t Succeed
You’re probably wondering what happens if you sign something important and it doesn’t match the signature on your identification exactly. Well, it depends on the type of document that you’re signing, but in most cases, you’ll be required to keep trying until you get it right.
Here’s an example from real life:
Last year, I stopped by my bank to make some changes to my account. The account manager verified my identity with my passport and then asked me to sign a form verifying the requested changes.
After I signed it, she looked at the paper, scowled, and immediately fed it into the shredder. I heard the printer sound behind her and she placed another one in front of me. “The signature doesn’t match,” she said. “Sign it again.”
My second attempt also failed to live up to her high standards and she shredded that one too. As she placed another copy of the document in front of me, she said, “Please concentrate.”
I was starting to feel some test anxiety at that point.
My eyes darted back and forth from my passport to the paper as I attempted to duplicate every loop and swirl exactly. When I thought I had it perfect, I slid it back across the desk. This time the sound of the shredder and printer overlapped.
She accepted my fifth attempt, but I honestly don’t think that one was better than the previous four. I think I just wore her down.
Let’s Wrap This Up
When I renew my passport in 2021, I know that I’ll have to sign it the same way I did last time. If I don’t, it will no longer match all of the other signatures that I have on my Mexican documents and identifications.
I guess I’m stuck with this signature for as long as I live in Mexico. Which is probably going to be forever because I love it here.