View Full Version : Passports and Visas

07-21-2015, 11:28 AM
I get a frantic phone call from a guy this morning (not a client, just an acquaintance).

He's in the Cancun, Mexico airport, and the Immigration guys apparently think that his Passport is kind of... ummm... "mangled." They don't want to let him into Mexico. This kind of shocked me, initially, because I can't recall a single instance of anyone trying to sneak into Cancun on a non-stop flight from the USA, using a forged U.S. Passport. I regret ever giving the guy my phone number, and normally I would have just said, "I can't help you if you're not my client."

However... I was so curious that I couldn't resist the urge to see how this was going to play out. I got my translator to pick up the other handset, and then told the guy to let us speak to the Immigration person (at this point, a Supervisor).

Me: [through translator] Hello, Sir. How are you?

Supervisor (He): I am fine, sir. With whom am I speaking?

Me: I am "Mr. Smith's" Travel Agent, sir. I want to help clear up this misunderstanding.

He: Well, if you are only a Travel Agent, then you cannot fix this situation. We simply cannot accept this Passport. It is too badly damaged.

Me: I understand, sir. I will certainly advise my client to renew his Passport as soon as he returns to the USA. However, I urge you to look at his signature on page 1 and ask him to duplicate that signature, and also to ask him if he can verify the information on page 7. I assure you that he is not trying to enter Mexico illegally. He has just made a silly mistake by not taking proper care of his Passport.

[my translator knew that I was trying to "shmooze" the guy, and he laid it on pretty thick, too]

[after a couple of minutes, the supervisor was back on the phone, and he and my translator were joking and laughing -- something about "stupid Gringos", etc.]


anyway, it worked

07-21-2015, 11:39 AM
One thing that I totally forgot to mention...

"Mr. Smith" -- let's call him "Bob" -- was quite irate about the Mexican authorities not accepting his Passport.

I told him the one thing that I tell everyone else... which is absolutely true. Actually, it's more of a "Question and Answer" session...


Me: Bob... What is a Passport? Do you know what a Passport really is?

Bob: I'm sure that you're going to tell me.

Me: Yes, I am. Your Passport is an Identification Document. It tells people that your name is "Bob Smith," and it includes a photo and some basic information so that, hopefully, no one can steal your Passport and pretend to be you.

But, Bob! That's all that your Passport is! It's an ID! It's a Library Card! Nothing more!

Now... by international agreement, countries have standardized their Passport formats so that other countries can read and understand them. But that's it.

Your Passport gives you exactly ZERO privileges outside of the USA. ZERO!!! By international agreement, most countries will assist you in contacting your embassy or consulate.


Page ONE of a U.S. Passport:

"The Secretary of State of the United States of America hereby ---> REQUESTS <--- all whom it may concern to permit the citizen/national of the United States named herein to pass without delay or hindrance and in case of need to give all lawful aid and protection."

07-21-2015, 11:52 AM

As a foreigner (U.S. Citizen, for example), you enjoy a certain status in Costa Rica that you don't have in almost every other country that you will ever visit...






Foreigners have the same individual and social
rights and duties as Costa Ricans, with the exceptions and limitations
established by this Constitution and by the laws.

They may not intervene in the political affairs of the country, are
subject to the jurisdiction of the courts of justice and the authorities
of the Republic, and may not have recourse to diplomatic channels,
except as provided in international conventions.


That is a pretty profound and unusual granting of rights to foreigners within a country's territory.