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Discussion in 'Americas' started by Jeff Munn, May 30, 2006.
Just hanging out
What's the story with the new passport cards? Can you take a bike across a border with one? Last time I did it, I used the passport book and it was stamped with the vehicle import information at each border. I need to know if I can use the card to transit borders.
The short answer is yes - it was designed specifically for frequent land/sea travel to Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean, and Burmuda.
It is not designed to be used for air travel or for entering any other country than those listed and then only by land or sea.
I've used it for Mexico travel many times. Works like a charm. I've also ordered an online TVIP with it many times.
So I can't use a card to fly into Cabo? What about the rest of Central America? Can I use the card for Guatemala and south?
This was answered in my post
This was answered in my post
This was answered in my post
I was looking for the long answer. I finally found the FAQ on the State Department website. You are correct.
For moto travel to Mexico, bring both the passport and the passport card.
Use one or the other for the TVIP/tourist card, keep the other hidden on the bike as your "get out of jail free" token should you lose the primary.
Once you get to the Guatemala border, they'll want to see your passport book with an exit stamp from Mexico. You can ice your passport card once you get here, it's of no use Guatemala on down.
No stamp, no entry into Guatemala.
We were delayed at the border into Guatemala this past February when one of our viajeros couldn't produce the receipt for his tourist card.
No receipt for your tourist card, no Mexico exit stamp in your passport book.
No Mexico exit stamp in your passport book, no entrada into Guatemala.
He went back to the parking lot, swearing up a storm, looking for his tourist card receipt.
Meanwhile, a bus load of people looking to cross into Guatemala arrives, unloads, and lines up in front of the lone official with the precious stamp.
Our man eventually finds the receipt, and tries to go to the head of the line. No dice, the official is not having this. Head hung in despair, he gets in place the back of the now long line.
This is one of the reasons I don't like to travel in groups. Someone always manages to slow the group down.
Actually, it wasn't any trouble at all. We were already on "island time" and really didn't care.
Besides, this was the guy who jumped into the back of the ambulance with another guy who crashed near the Copper Canyon, and stayed with him in the hospital until the day of his medevac.
For kings like that, we wait.
Here, here! Not to mention he left his own bike on the side of the highway when he jumped into the ambulance.
And for riders like John Downs who abandons his epic trek to El Mirador and rode all day to ensure that a fellow rider (and, I believe, total stranger to John) had someone with him in an El Salvadoran hospital.
Pretty impressive stuff.
Yup - happened to me about a month ago crossing into Guatemala. Had vowed to stop keeping every fricki piece of paper given to me on this trip. So, tossed the receipt once I had the visitors card stamped. Cant get it stamped without the receipt. Of course arguing this line of reasoning with the Migración guy was like talking to a wall.
This is a great scam either the Meskin Gumit has going or the border guys. Had to go back to the Banjercito and pay the entrance fee again. It was only $20 but it just pissed me off.
Rex, it is another country it is not the USA.
Rules are rules no matter how frustrating it is.
Ever try reasoning with an American border agent or Homeland security agent?
You have likely never gone through the hassles of trying to return one of the immigration stubs you get as a visitor to the USA when someone from the airline or government didnt take it from you when you were leaving.
Maybe you havent been questioned at length in a locked room because the agent was having a bad hair day?
It is like talking to a wall but the wall talks back to you with the sense of...well...a wall.
I believe MikeMike has a point. Our government immigration policies are just as rediculous as other countries.
For the record, I don't know if Rex has been interrogated by Canadian customs and immigration. I have and I was born there. And dont get me started on Harper' s visa requirement and how asanine that was implemented with 48 hours notice.
Actually, I feel quite the opposite. I feel the process is quite valid.
The tourist card isn't valid until its been paid for, and its possible to run around the country with one, without without having validated it by paying for it. Maybe here lies the rub, and in the understanding of it, we might back off being critical of the stance these officials take.
A perfect example of how this process plays out is at the crossing into Mexico at El Ceibo, near Tenosique, where the Banjercito is closed on Mondays (or at least still was earlier this year). You can wait until Tuesday, or just continue on and validate the tourist card by paying at another Banjercito location. Which is what I did.
So, theoretically, you could enter there and then run down here and try to get stamped out, without ever having paid. It's really not the border guy's job to figure out why somebody doesn't have their TC receipt. One thing is for sure - if he doesn't stamp you out without seeing that receipt, and you want to get into Guatemala, you will need that exit stamp, so they will get their money. Sure - it might be annoying to the traveler if he's already paid, but as we've seen, that's on the traveler if he loses the receipt. "Keep Your Receipt" - I see that in a lot of places. Parking garages come to mind.
As with our man Bob C, lack of understanding of a border process can mean some frustration - but it doesn't always have to point to corruption or to officials who are out to be a pain or who are on the take. Yes, I've read examples of that from Mexico to Ushuaia, but I don't feel it applies to this particular border process.
Trice, I know firsthand of exactly one case where a rider entered Mexico with absolutely zero documentation. No visa, no TVIP, nada, zip, zero.
I explained, patiently, the insanity of this.
He mentioned he had ridden Ethiopia and a few other interesting places and said that he would worry about things if and when they happened.
He actually made it into Guatemala to the surprise of everyone.
It can be done, but man o man the way the planets have to line up is beyond the luck of most, I believe.:eek1
Yes, there are other accounts also of viajeros blitzing past the Texas border and riding downrange without tourist cards or TVIPs. In fact, although I've always had these documents, there have been occasions where I've ridden around Mexico without ever being asked to show either one.
We do note that at Mexico's northern border, U.S. CBP personnel do not ask to see a Mexico exit stamp.
My personal bottom line: since the paperwork process is so easy, I'm not ever tempted to roll the dice.