Border closures may be a thing of the past now that the health crisis has been controlled, at least across a majority of destinations, but that’s not to say international travel is rule-free. Quite the contrary: Americans can still be denied entry to a foreign country for numerous reasons, including not having the number of blank passport pages required.
Some Countries Require At Least Two Blank Pages
As it turns out, passport validity is not the only detail travelers need to be mindful of. Besides checking they have six months of validity left, even when planning to return home much sooner, they must guarantee their travel document complies with entry guidelines set out by foreign authorities at their country of arrival.
Different countries establish their own rules when it comes to managing borders, such as demanding a visa in advance or charging an entry fee. Though, when it comes to passports specifically, as a general rule, they should be machine-readable in principle and in good condition, with the bearer’s personal information perfectly visible.
Additionally, the binding cannot have come loose or be frayed, and the booklet or machine-readable lines must not have sustained damage in any way. This is common knowledge, but there is one more thing that is often overlooked yet has the potential to ruin a vacation or, even worse: leave you stranded abroad with no means to get home.
Ensuring there are sufficient pages on your booklet for visas to be issued is just as important as checking validity or protecting the passport from environmental factors. As stated by Condy Candee, a travel expert and founder of luggage store company Bounce, those who run out of pages will be expected to renew their passport sooner than the expiry date.
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‘Some countries, such as Italy, require a fully blank visa page for valid entry, while others, such as South Africa, require at least two,’ Candee remarked, urging travelers to check the requirements at their destination before heading to the airport so they won’t get caught by surprise. That is particularly true in the African and Asian continents:
The Problem With Visa Stickers
Americans can enter a majority of countries in Europe and the Western World visa-free, which usually entails getting stamped in and out of different territories. In Asia, however, several countries have a Visa On Arrival (VOA) or pre-arrival visa policy, and other than entry and exit stamps, a full page is needed so a visa sticker can be affixed.
In Vietnam, for instance, travelers are expected to present a passport with a minimum of two empty pages to be used, as border guards will refuse to place sticker visas over previous stamps or expired visas. The same applies to Laos and Indonesia, two of Southeast Asia’s leading tourist destinations, where visas are granted on arrival.
Alvaro Rojas, a professional traveler who is currently backpacking across the region, got on the wrong side of Laos border officers when attempting to cross into the country from a land border with visa-free Thailand due to not having the right amount of blank pages. Mr. Rojas is reportedly the youngest Spaniard to visit every country in the world.
It may be an airline’s job to check a traveler’s documentation ahead of allowing boarding in order to avoid a potential entry refusal at their destination, but check-in staff do not routinely conduct passport checks unless verifying the expiry date, any visa restrictions that may apply to certain nationalities, and a pre-issued visa’s validity.
The American passport is one of the most powerful in the world, granting easy entry to up to 186 destinations in 2023. Be that as it may, U.S. citizens are expected to ensure they have enough pages available and that they will be eligible for entry into a foreign country themselves, even when not requiring a visa or any sort of entry permit in advance.
For more information on entry requirements for specific destinations, travelers are advised to refer to the official website of relevant authorities, such as Consulates or the U.S. Embassy.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com
Sunday 29th of January 2023
Doesn't really seem to be the sort of problem many people will ever have.. what with Europe, the United States, and alot of other territories doing away with passport stamping altogether.