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Old 07-31-2009, 05:46 AM   #15
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The Document issued by the US Government's Department of State regarding the issue of a Passport Card includes in a addition to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda.

If these additional Countries have been excluded from the list, please provide the authority so that we can be sure of the current rules.

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Old 08-01-2009, 03:18 PM   #16
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The "Passport Card" was developed in response to people who frequently have to cross the USA borders for business or other reasons. Ages ago that was done with a simple US drivers license, but after 9-11 the USA instituted the requirement that any USA border crossing required a full passport (book). It wasn't very long before this requirement proved stupid and silly as the passport book was filling up with entry/exit stamps in months rather than years. So a compromise was worked out and the passport card was introduced.

The passport card is not usable anywhere where entry/exit stamps are required. Which happens to be most of the Caribbean. Those places like the French Islands that are now on the "computer only" check-in/out might not object to the use of the passport card as nothing is stamped into your passport book. Other islands as they move from physical stamping of your passport book to a computer entry only will probably also allow the passport card. But currently they are few and far between. The regulations allow you to have both a passport book and a passport card - but - they are not cheap. Since the passport book is acceptable everywhere while the passport card is severely limited I personally don't think it is cost-effective to have both.

Here are some extracts from the US State Department Q&A on passport cards:

>>>>>

Why can’t I use the passport card to fly to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, or Bermuda?

The passport card is designed for the specific needs of the northern and southern border resident communities and is not a globally interoperable travel document as is the traditional passport book. While the passport card has limited use, the passport book will remain the premier internationally accepted travel document.

Does the passport card contain an electronic chip?

To facilitate the frequent travel of Americans living in border communities, and to meet the Department of Homeland Security’s operational needs along the land borders, the passport card has a vicinity-read radio frequency identification (RFID) chip. With this technology, Customs and Border Protection inspectors are able to access photographs and other biographical information stored in secure government databases before the traveler reaches the inspection station.

Won’t this chip violate Americans’ privacy?

There is no personal information written on the electronic chip itself. The only information contained on the chip is a unique number which points to a stored record contained in secure government databases.

<<<<<<

A lot of Caribbean Island countries want to physically stamp a passport book because they want it on record in your passport that you are forbidden to work (get wages) in their country unless you apply, justify the need and pay for a work permit. Having a stamp in your passport makes it legally easy for the country to "Deport" and/or imprison you for working without a permit. Increases in local population has made the jobs issue very touchy for the politicians.

And still a lot of the Caribbean countries do not have the computer systems and probably will not have them unless some other government is willing to donate them to the island country. Read this as the various Island country's politicians are not stupid, if the USA Homeland Security wants the information on where their citizens are or anybody else, they are going to have to pay for it.
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Old 08-02-2009, 05:20 PM   #17
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I'm not suggesting anything shady.. and I'm defnitely not trying to start a debate but in the Caribean that I know of specifically at least Tortola, St. John, Antigua, Martinique, St. Martin, St. Vincent all have customs docks and I've never had anyone say anything about waking someone up, extra fees, or getting mad when i didn't wake them... ... I don't cosider coming in late shady at all... I like day passages (which are easy to do in the caribean) so I most always leave in the morning get in in the evening and check in the next day...

similar experience in Europe... depending where you land there is not always a customs office and the local port captains usually don't give two snorts if you've checked in or not as long as you state that your next stop is another country and you just need some supplies/repairs... same with scandinavia... because I sailed in and was flying out (so had to check in to get out) I once had to take a bus 3 hours one way to get from Grebstad (where we landed) to Goteborg (I think)... when I finally found the police station and got to talk to the customs officer the dialog was something like:

Customs Officer: "how did you get into the country"

Me: "on a sailboat"

CO: "ah... so why do you want to check in"

Me: "because I'm flying out"

CO: "oh... so why do you want to chck in"

Me: "so that they will let me fly out"

CO: "oh they won't care, just show them your captains license and tell them you came in on a sailboat"

Me: "ok, I'll do that, but can you stamp me in anyways."

CO: "Sure (STAMP), Have a nice trip"

Maybe I'm just getting lucky or something but in my experience if you smile and say "sir" a lot, act mildly confused, say things like, "I just wanna make sure I do everything I'm supposed to", and show them the deference of rank they don't get from a lot of people most customs officers are very amicable and helpfull... they are people after all not automatons... I've even had tourism fees waved a couple of times because I didn't have the cash on me... again... not talking anything shady here... just being smart, planning well, and being super-uper duper polite and friendly...

I've actually had more trouble now that I'm sailing in the US than I ever did in foreign waters.. here the harbor masters are mostly beurocrats looking to stuff the cities coffers
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Old 08-03-2009, 02:28 AM   #18
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Ativist - your next to last paragraph definitely states the crux of how to have an as pleasant as possible experience with most C/I officials. Be nice, be deferential, be courteous, make them feel important and "most" times you will have a short and painless check in/out. Works for me! - most of the time.

However, you must have been on commercial boats in the islands you mentioned as all these same places I have also been to every year for the last 5 years and there are no Customs docks where private boats can dock. And you wouldn't want to because the "government" docks or C/I docks are normally concrete with big dirty and ugly truck tires tied to them. And there is usually a surge in such places and you would spend the night grinding your topsides against the pier. Private boats anchor or take a mooring and dinghy in to clear in/out.

There are few islands like Trinidad that is really obnoxious about delayed check in/out. Trinidad does have an "official" Customs that private boats must use. And you can get into serious trouble and fines for not "immediately" checking in or delaying after checking out.

But the other island countries in the eastern Caribbean are generally rather easy going and will work with you - if you are pleasant to/with them - about waiting for the next morning or leaving up to 24 hours after formally checking out. However, all of this is very fluid and what worked last year on an island might not work this year after a new official takes over the department. And sometimes you have to be a little insistent with them to get the proper paperwork so you can leave/arrival on a boat/airliner. The officials at the airport might not be as pliant as the one at the docks, or vice versa. I have been screamed at by C/I officials in Ponce,P.R. because according to the local officer the check-in at Mayaguez was not done correctly by their officials. I told him that was his problem - you are all in the same organization and take it out on them not me. Bottom line, there is always the standard 10% who can make your life miserable no matter how nice, pleasant, deferential, etc. you are. Smile and press on . . .
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Old 08-03-2009, 03:15 AM   #19
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This Topic is the subject of sailing to the Caribbean and asking for help regarding immigration procedures etc.

To provide an answer to a question in a the State Department's FAQ section IE:-

Why can’t I use the passport card to fly to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, or Bermuda?



Is misleading to say the least.

The Passport Card is issued only for land and sea travel.

The site that provides the current information on the card is to be found HERE

What is needed is information regarding the use of the Passport Cord when visiting Caribbean countries by sea. The ability to read that card appears be only available to US authorities when returning to the the US by land or Sea.

If that card is not acceptable or prove a problem in any of the countries of the Caribbean, could someone quote chapter and verse?
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Old 08-03-2009, 12:21 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MMNETSEA View Post
What is needed is information regarding the use of the Passport Cord when visiting Caribbean countries by sea. The ability to read that card appears be only available to US authorities when returning to the the US by land or Sea.
I'm not sure I understand your question. *As I read the information on the US site, the RFID chips are new, implemented only in the past two years. *It's clear to me that the chips are designed to be read by the US Immigration officers, not for use in the destination countries, though possibly they might be provided to some of the US's allies to screen entries. *However, for the next eight years, the majority of US passports will not have an RFID chip.

I think that the passport card has been issued in order to make US Immigration officers' lives easier when processing the returnees from a cruise ship cruise to Bermuda or the Caribbean. *2,000 or so people descending on Immigration all at once must be a difficult job. *And for those US citizens who regularly travel to Mexico and/or Canada on business or pleasure, border patrol will be better able to process carloads or bus loads of people much, much more easily. *And for the occasional or one-time cruise ship passenger, a passport card is significantly cheaper than a regular passport book. *I don't think that the passport card had cruising sailors in mind, and I doubt that cruising sailors would be interested in obtaining a passport card unless they did not expect to travel further than the Caribbean.

I would expect that the US would share its technology and information on questionable citizens with Canada and Mexico - it would be sensible for them to do so (and yes, go ahead and say "but where in the history books does it say the US government policies were/are sensible?" ). *
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Old 08-03-2009, 12:42 PM   #21
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To Repeat the question :- "If that card is not acceptable or prove a problem in any of the countries of the Caribbean, could someone quote chapter and verse?"
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Old 08-07-2009, 02:08 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MMNETSEA View Post
To Repeat the question :- "If that card is not acceptable or prove a problem in any of the countries of the Caribbean, could someone quote chapter and verse?"
Anybody who asks for "chapter and verse" or "prove" when dealing with small countries and 3rd world countries is not connected with reality. Now that I have pissed you off - let me explain. As I have said and JeaneP has also discussed. The Passport Card is for speeding up the masses of USA citizen returnees to the USA border processing facilities. You cannot re-enter the USA without a "Passport" - no other document is acceptable for USA citizens. As stated, the huge volume of USA citizens returning from partial-day or short-duration/ frequent crossings (examples given by JeanneP) got to be ridiculous with a Passport Book. So the Passport Card was introduced with the RFID chip that reduces the processing time by 75% per returning USA citizen.

Use of the Passport Card has not been tested outside the USA as an alternative to the Passport Book. Little countries and third world countries do not have the computers and definitely do not have the RFID chip readers. And as mentioned they "need" to "smack that stamp" in your Passport book - that seems to bring them great joy in fulfilling their only purpose in life. These countries do not have any "laws - chapter and verse" addressing Passport Cards. They only have "laws" about dealing with Passports (book-form)" or the original way of drivers license, voting registration and birth certificate. Which the Bahamas still has as an option when entering. In these countries - everything is very flexible - i.e. up to the local official's discretion. Mostly all countries "knee-jerk" react to any restrictions instituted by the USA Homeland Security for their citizens to visit the USA and require corresponding restrictions - but only up to the point where it does not affect tourist income to the island.

That is why I mentioned that in the Future - the more advanced islands like the French who use all-computer entry/exit procedures that you perform yourself might be amenable to use of the Passport Card. The French islands have mostly discontinued using any government employees (C/I officials) for yacht check-in/out. You do-it-yourself and take the print-out to the proprietor/clerk of the internet cafe, boat parts store, or even restaurant which have the French computer system installed and get the print-out stamped. Simple, elegant and very convenient for us.

So bottom line - there is no "chapter and verse" in these places - and if there was - we would not have access to it except by visiting the main headquarters of the government and pestering the local staff to find and retrieve the physical book of laws and regulations. That is something none of us need to do or would even attempt to do. Given that there might be only one or maybe two places where the Passport Card would be usable and you will HAVE to have the Passport "book" for all others - why bother? The Q&A that I quoted was from the bottom of the page you linked to - and it amplifies the reasons, procedures and eligible places for its use. That is the "chapter and verse."
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