Passport Etiquette: Don’t Leave Home Without It!

The Passport in Foreign Countries—don’t leave home without it

When traveling abroad, a gentleman should always carry his passport in a secure place on his person. Unlike “man-purses” and “belt-bags,” which are oftentimes forgotten, misplaced, and are prime targets for street-thieves, the inside chest pocket (with a button closure) of a sport coat is a perfect, generally pick-pocket-proof place to secure important documents and extra cash. (And as a bonus, in many countries, a gentleman wearing a sport coat is oftentimes afforded certain courtesies that may not otherwise be extended). Enclosing the passport in a zip-lock plastic bag protects the passport from perspiration and the elements.

Some countries have laws that permit police officers or military personnel to randomly, without suspicion of wrongdoing, or for any or no reason, demand the presentation of personal identification documents. Citizens and residents of such jurisdictions are expected to have their standard government-issued identification with them whenever in public. Visitors and tourists are expected to present their passports. When traveling abroad, it is not uncommon for documents to be requested of train or bus passengers, of shoppers on pedestrian streets, or at the entrance to banks or government buildings. In some jurisdictions, failure to present proper documentation could result in arrest, incarceration, and/or fees.

Special Passport Rules:

-A passport is the property of the issuing country, not of the bearer of the passport. United States passports read: U.S. GOVERNMENT PROPERTY This passport is the property of the United States (Title 22, Code of Federal Regulations, Section 51.9). It must be surrendered upon demand made by an authorized representative of the United States Government.

-Some countries have a passport validity rule that requires that passports of persons visiting the country be valid for a certain amount of time, usually six months or three months, after the date of entry.

-Damage can render a passport invalid. Water damage; significant damage to the cover of the passport; damage to the photo/page with personal data; missing or torn-out visa pages; and unofficial markings can all invalidate a passport.

-Generally, passport photos must be taken within six months of the issuance of the passport. Significant changes to one’s appearance (dramatic weight-gain/-loss; addition/removal of facial tattoos, significant facial surgery or trauma, etc., may all render a passport invalid).

-Most countries prohibit the taking of passport photos while wearing uniforms or clothing that resembles uniforms.

-Some countries require that passports of incoming visitors have at least three blank pages for immigration and visa stamps. (Most countries require at least one blank page). A gentleman traveling to several countries on one trip, then, may want to renew his passport even though it has not expired, or obtain additional pages for his passport. (For security reasons, several countries have suspended the practice of adding pages to existing passports, requiring instead that new passports be obtained).

-Some countries will accept a valid visa contained in an expired passport if presented in conjunction with a valid passport. Other countries require that a new visa be obtained for the valid passport.

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