What if you "forgot" your passport?

The article is about Ecuador, not Nicaragua, but it does offer something to think about. It is about a woman who flew to Ecuador without her passport and what happened.

The article is in The Washington Times.

QUITO, Ecuador—An American senior citizen on a flight to South America was seized and jailed by Ecuador immigration authorities after arriving there for a vacation.

The article at least implies that Ecuador mistreated her. If they did it was because they followed the law. It doesn't matter that she was a senior citizen, was on vacation or anything else. What it does do is give anyone traveling something to think about.

For whatever reason, let's say you arrived in Managua without your passport. What would happen? Would you get tossed in jail? Would the embassy of your country in Nicaragua help you solve the problem?

My understanding is that if an airline delivers you to a new country without the documents to clear immigration then they are responsible for returning you to where you came from. In her case, that did not happen and the airlines apparently said it was not their problem.

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Electronic documents

I have electronic copies of my passport, cédula and such on a USB flash drive. The one I have is a small Swiss Army Knife with the USB stick as one of the blades. It happens to be on my key chain for my car keys. For you air travelers, a non-knife is clearly a better choice.

While this is not going to useful in a traffic stop, my theory is that it is a good backup because a trip to a Cyber Cafe can produce a copy whenever needed.

You Can Have

both the Passport Card and the conventional passport. I have both. The passport card is a sturdy laminate and comes with its own foil envelope and fits into a wallet like a credit card.

While the passport card is not valid for travel to Nicaragua, its possession would go a long ways towards establishing your identity, and it's no trouble to carry.. I also try to leave my passport in a safe place (I brought a digital safe and having a house to keep things in helps too),, and carry a copy of the pic and signature page, along with a copy of the tourist permit stapled to it. It folds over and tucks into a shirt pocket.

For the car, I have copies of the registration, title, copies of both Shelley's and my passport pages and drivers' licenses, copies of the entry permits, and copies of the car entry documents and insurance, all stapled into one lot, folded into thirds and tucked above the driver sun visor. It looks and feels like a Met Life insurance policy.

So far this has all worked well, but who knows about tomorrow ?? I do know the Nica's love their paper, the more the merrier, so I give them what they love most. Interestingly, on this trip I have only been stopped a couple of times, I think the Idaho plates catch their attention. Nobody has hassled me, no bribe solicitations, they haven't even looked for my fire extinguisher and reflectors, both new in the original packaging. The thick sheaf of papers seems to intimidate them. Maybe there is some new, enlightened Nicaraguan (is that an oxymoron?) policy of don't hassle the tourists and more might come? It's not like Nicaragua is plagued by 11 million undocumented "visitors". I have yet to see a Gringo begging on the street.

I sensed that in Mexico: we miss you Gringos, and the money you used to bring . . .

passport problemo's

Last year (spring 2012)..I traveled on Delta ,from Pittsburgh to Atlanta and then off to Managua.. Where the fun began..The nice migration man at Augusto Sandino Aeroporto discovered my USA passport had expired!!! I became the guest of Nicaragua for over 3 days..(Best Western across the road)... if you are detained in Nicaragua it IS the place to stay!! Yes, I missed the fact that my USA passport had expired a year before!!! The nice baggage counter person (Delta) also missed that fact, the TSA person checked and missed that fact..The nice lady (Delta) at the gate checked and missed it (at Pittsburgh)..The nice lady (Delta) in (Atlanta), at the boarding gate, failed to notice my passport was more than a year expired...BUT the nice Nicaraguan man noticed and I got to stand over there for 2 hours..I was not allowed to call the embassy (US of A) by the Nicaraguans. How ever when I was stashed in a office while they figured out what to do with me...A very nice senorita (Delta) looked the other way while I called ( using her phone) the Embassy of the good old US of A...Took not 1 but 2 calls to talk with the USMC guard at the embassy and then off to the duty officer... " Oh!! your the guy at the airport ...so sorry we don't like to get involved in local affairs" .......Girls,the Embassy of the good old (our guys) was "zero,0 as in nada help...for 3 days...I had at one point 2 ministry of migration guards and + 1 guy with a hand gun..to keep me from "jumping out a window and making a run for it"..3 days later after emails from my hidden tablet.."Just playing games.. hombres"...The nice young woman from the embassy showed up and less than an hour later...and $130.00 usd... I had an emergency USA passport... good for 1 year..reminds me I gotta renew that sucker... So a learning moment..check your passport for expiration date...don't expect the embassy to rush to bail you out of sticky moments..tell the truth and be pleasant ...until that just is not working for you...then be firm/strong and smile a lot...worked for me...OH!! the good looking young woman Ministry of Migration person (dark hair) ...just has to be a larger _ _ _ _ _ than the guys..

When I was planning my first trip...

...I found out that the passport had to be good for some number of day after the end of the tourist visa. Seems like this should be the responsibility of the passport holder.

The US Embassy also has people calling them for the money necessary for overstaying their tourist visas and had people asking at town hall meetings if the US can keep Daniel Ortega from saying bad things about the US (the expression on the ambassador's face was wonderful for a split second).

It's not that difficult in these days of the internet to find out what the regulations are for traveling to a particular country. http://www.travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_985.html came up in Googling for travel requirements for Nicaragua.

Rebecca Brown

It seems that one needs 6 months left

on one`s passport just to enter Nic. This is the responsibility of the passport holder, although the airlines also check it.

If one goes to any country and for some reason their passport expires, they need to get to their consulate and get it renewed or extended or they will be trapped in that country. You cannot even buy a ticket on Ticabus, etc. without showing your passport.

"Anything that is complex is not useful and anything that is useful is simple. This has been my whole life's motto."

Mikhail Kalashnikov, Russian inventor

Nice story

Do write more of them.

Passports (some have a new life of their own)

It does happen that passports are stolen on planes. Any major airline deals with this on a daily basis somewhere in the world, though some are temporarily lost or misplaced and many do not involve an international flight and so the REAL headache of that is diverted. As an example, see Emirates Airlines: My passport was stolen on Emirates Airlines. This account is pretty much like the standard experience. Why they are stolen and where they all “go” is perhaps a bigger and better story. As of a few years ago Interpol claimed there were over 11 million stolen passports in their database. The then director claimed this was more serious than the other problems being addressed by national security agencies, many of which cost a small fortune and accomplished little if anything by way of serious law enforcement. See Passport Fraud: Biggest Threat Facing the World, Claims Interpol Chief, c2010. Being “criminalized” for being without a passport occurs in other settings, too – even ones where not having one is or once was the norm, as with those claiming asylum via a third country. See Asylum Seekers Jailed for Having No Passport: Lawyers Say New Law Criminalizes the Vulnerable. PBS Frontline did at least one documentary on the greater issues. See "Crossing Borders: How Terrorists Use Fake Passports, Visas, and Identify Documents”; this was an offshoot of the bigger documentary, “Hunting Bin Laden”. Stolen documents seem infrequently to be shredded or trashed and somewhat commonly appear in the most unusual places and in countries where the passport owner and thief have apparently never been. This explains the law enforcement or national security response. Per the woman in Ecuador, it is hard to believe that is the law though, even if the airport is not open 24 hours and there is nowhere to detail people inside it. This was more inflexible than what happens at sea ports when crews and tourists have missing documents, etc. Additionally, her bag seems to have been found quickly, even though it did not arrive until later it would seem some law enforcement on both ends could have had some sort of conversation.

see your local embassy, even if it isn`t local.

coming down on United they double check your passport at the boarding gate in Houston, in addition to checking it when you check in at the airport, so it is not likely to happen.

If somehow you beat the overwhelming odds and do manage to do it, see you local embassy and hunker down and wait.

I met a young man in Managua who was cooling his heels there for many weeks. He was an experienced traveler from India who had had his passport stolen. He was waiting for the Indian consulate in Panama to mail him his new one. No passport, you cannot leave the country!

"Anything that is complex is not useful and anything that is useful is simple. This has been my whole life's motto."

Mikhail Kalashnikov, Russian inventor

Did you forget to read the article?

It is exactly a can't happen story. And there is no embassy to go see if you go directly from the airplane to jail.

In her case, she knew she didn't have it before the plane took off but the same situation could have been created if you lost it/it was stolen in flight.

call the embassy from Jail!!!

In this case Lan came thru for her and delivered her passport, probably very scared of the bad publicity, threat of civil suit, plus getting a bad mark from immigration authorities.

This was an uncommon incident--she screwed up by losing her passport, Lan screwed up double for lettting her on the plane and then by not letting her off.

Some people may remember the good old days when you could vacation on a tourist visa. They are long gone.

"Anything that is complex is not useful and anything that is useful is simple. This has been my whole life's motto."

Mikhail Kalashnikov, Russian inventor

Any thoughts on what to

Any thoughts on what to carry with you while remaining in country? I recently got a new passport, and it is somewhat bulky. I presently carry my cell phone in a zipped carrier that is held through a substantial belt loop. In another pouch of this carrier, I have the bulky passport and a separate folder with my license, cedula, and a debit card. In a pocket, I carry my wallet with only cash. I got stopped recently and the cop tried to say that my new cedula was expired, luckily there was a migration officer nearby that I new, and he straightened the cop out. I guess that my question is: can I carry a photostat of my passport and leave my passport at home?

My understanding

My understanding is that once you have your cédula, you don't need to carry your passport. You will need it if you are leaving the country (even to another CA-4 country) and to open a bank account in some banks some time. But, day to day, you should only need your cédula.

i carry my cedula

and have not yet had any problem with any official body. One goofy hotel in managua didn`t want to rent me a room with out a passport, but that was their quirky dysfunctional policy.

The common wisdom passed on to tourists is to carry a photocopy of your passport and leave the original locked up in your hotel room or hotel safe. I`ve never heard of anyone having a problem with this but I am sure there is always an exception. When I`ve done this, I have always stayed within reasonable distance of the hotel when not in possession of my passport--same city,etc.

I also leave photocopies of my passport at the house and with my relatives in the US so one could be faxed or emailed to me.

"Anything that is complex is not useful and anything that is useful is simple. This has been my whole life's motto."

Mikhail Kalashnikov, Russian inventor

Yes, thats right

But does Mr Cobbs mean his Intur ticket that you get with a 90 day stamp?

I say that because those say 30 days and it cases some confusion and the actual residency card is very clear on the date of expiry 'Vence' at the bottom centre.

Nicas need to produce a cedula if asked and foreigner a residency card OR a passport with a current 90 day stamp.

As we speak, there are 3 gringos in SJdS that have been released from Migracion detention pending obtaining passports from their country. Two were revoked while here for child support issues and the third claims to have crossed borders by foot and got all the way here with no passport.!!

They have to sign on every 15 days and show progress in obtaining passports

Executive Summary Please 1)

Executive Summary Please

1) If you don't have a passport do not get on the plane 2) Check that you have a passport before getting off the plane. If you have no passport stay on the plane.

3) If you lose a passport in-country contact Embassy for replacement (pasport is needed to leave the country).

4) For a tourist, a passport with a stamp is needed to show status if asked by police? How often does that happen?

good advise

but if you refuse to get off a plane expect a visit from the swat squad or the military anti-terrorist unit. these types have no sense of humor at all!

In airports and on planes my passport is in a zippered shirt pocket.

Before I had a cedula I was never asked by the police for a passport. But then, I had the luck to never run into a stupid or corrupt cop and I don`t generally act in a way to attract police attention.

Also, watch what you do in airport lounges--if you can`t hold your likker then don`t drink it, or at least put your passport in a zippered front pocket before you drink. A purse is an absolutely lousy place to put a passport, ever.

"Anything that is complex is not useful and anything that is useful is simple. This has been my whole life's motto."

Mikhail Kalashnikov, Russian inventor

Mine goes in a under the clothes travel belt bag

Eagle Creek makes them. I put the passport in a ziplock bag since the travel bag can get sweat on it. The fabric is silk and it's quite comfortable.

Rebecca Brown

4) Happened to me only once in 7 years

And I didn't have it on me. Ochomogo bridge and I was on the way to Granada.

Cop was OK but asked me what would happen to him in my country? I said "the same"... he growled and let me go.

Wow, they definitely see me

Wow, they definitely see me coming! I have been here about one year and three months. In that time I have had to show my passport at least 100 times!!!!!!!!! I have been stopped while driving and had to show my passport and other papers 20 - 30 times, three times in one day! I think many of the cops just wanted to to look at my dune buggy.

Ah...I don't drive.

But the time is getting close, maybe a moto to make it 10,701 motos registered in the Department of Rivas.

I am told that having residency helps a bit as well as handing over all the docs, I think its 5 of them (DL, Residency, Insurance, Mechanical Inspection and Third Party/Damaga DL Insurance) also helps as they then don't see you as a complete rookie. I could be dreamin!!

My friends with Motos don't drive in Managua

Other than that, I haven't heard of any problems, and I'm not sure why they don't take their bikes to Managua.

Rebecca Brown

fishing checks

I have to go thru 2 spots on the Pan am that are frequent fishing checkpoints. Yes, being organized helps--I have a 3 ring pencil bag (the kind that is cloth or something on the back and transparent on the front with the docks in the glove box. I say good morning and dig out the docs and my drivers license and all goes very well. They seem to be relieved that I speak enough Spanish and have my papers together so they can do their little thing quickly. I`ve worked vehicle checks many moons ago at an army base and it is not the most exciting job in the world, not to mention the hot sun.

A couple times I have been asked about the fire extinguisher and 2 triangles but they were not interested enough to have me open the tool box and display them.

There are other checkpoints that have never stopped me-- they are stopping trucks and vans looking for contraband, which in Esteli would be drugs and illegal aliens, with drug arrests probably being good career-builders.

Sometimes there are other stops. One night coming home they were on the Panam after dark, which is rare. I was motioned over, the cop looked at us, and waved us on. They were looking for a specific person or persons and were not wasting time fishing. After I left I had to chuckled as being stopped in the dark I had performed a ``Watts Stop`` without even realizing it till I was done. (Ignition off, dome light on, hands at 10 and 2 on the steering wheel). I guess you can take the boy out of the ghetto but you can`t take the ghetto out of the boy!

"Anything that is complex is not useful and anything that is useful is simple. This has been my whole life's motto."

Mikhail Kalashnikov, Russian inventor

It is actually a cedula,

It is actually a cedula, took a little over a year to get it. When I got home that evening, I took a closer look, and there is English printed after the Spanish, but, I had to use a magnifying glass to read it: Vence/expires and Emitida/issued.

Revoked or just not renewed?

I ask because I know someone who seems to think only non-renewal is what is done.

Its both...

Application denied if you don't have one or if you are renewing in the USA.

If you have a valid one and its revoked they are supposed to deny your exit.

If abroad at the time you will be able to use "the passport you have in hand" (until it expires) to get back home at which point it will be taken from you.

If, as these two did, you sail away (with or without the knowledge) you will find out when you come to renew at the US Embassy here. At which point you are a little screwed. If you have no residency you need the passport for the 90 day stamp. If you do have residency you could in theory keep your head down here until that expires and then you will have to deal with the problem.

some times it gets funny

we have a relative who is a legal resident of CR but never had a Nica passport . She could not get one because the Nica authorities put an incorrect middle name on her birth certificate. (this type of stuff appears to have been very common in the past).

When her mother was ill she got some sort of temporary emergency permission to come here and she planned to get her birth cert fixed while here. She was unhappily surprised to find out you cannot get diddly squat fixed here is a measly 2 weeks, so she went home to cr.

Later she returned ``through the jungle`` and stayed long enough to get her corrected birth cert and and all went well except returning to CR she was robbed by the coyote. She then obtained her Nica passport in CR.

"Anything that is complex is not useful and anything that is useful is simple. This has been my whole life's motto."

Mikhail Kalashnikov, Russian inventor