Forgot Passport - Prosecuted

Old Mar 19th, 2013, 01:49 PM
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The Swiss Embassy website has a fair amount of information about this, though it doesn't mention specific fines for this particular crime.

If traveling as a foreigner you must always have your passport (and other ID, if it applies to you, which it doesn't) you. If you are stopped and found to be without it, the authority stopping you may take you in for questioning or fine you, or both - and it's at the discretion of the authority who stops you. In this case, apparently they didn't interrogate you but did turn paperwork into the legal authorities recommending this fine.

The judge handling the case determines the fine based on subjective opinion of the violater's situation at the moment of apprehension, but will take into account the violater's revenue, financial obligations (particularly in relation to family obligations), standard of living, etc.

Yes, you missed a deadline of March 7 to get the judge a copy of your passport and any visas you might have had.

Get in touch with the embassy, or consulate...now.
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Old Mar 19th, 2013, 02:00 PM
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"It doesn't mention crossing the border as the issue"

I would think it does as it mentions having entered Switzerland without a passport.
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Old Mar 19th, 2013, 02:06 PM
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<Il vous est reproche d'etre entre en Suisse et d'y avoir sejourne sans etre au benefice d'un passeport valable.>

I agree with the previous poster. I believe this says you are being reproached for having entered Switzerland and having stayed there without benefit of a valid passport.

Hope you can clear this up by showing a Swiss consulate that you in fact had a valid passport at the time.

Good luck!
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Old Mar 19th, 2013, 02:10 PM
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Well, but it also says "...et d'y avoir séjourné..." which means you stayed there/moved about there (without your passport), so I presume one of your arguments could be that you didn't stay there or move about without your passport - you hd it with you the entire time except for the 1-day/night trip to France. Presumably whoever you were staying with could vouch for the fact that you actually did have your passport and weren't roaming around Switzerland without it. Presumably also, there is documented evidence that you arrived and entered Switzerland with the proper documentation.
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Old Mar 19th, 2013, 02:17 PM
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StCirq - Thanks for the information. I was interrogated on the train for about 45 minutes.

Wow! So the punishment (fine) is not based on the crime, but is based instead on the accused's ability to withstand such punishment (pay). Wow!

Hopefully this is just a big misunderstanding and gets cleared up quickly. If not, I think my days of traveling to Switzerland are over.
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Old Mar 19th, 2013, 02:20 PM
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StCirq - Good points! And I can easily verify the statement in your last sentence as I have the passport stamps for entry and exit from GVA. Thank you.
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Old Mar 19th, 2013, 02:32 PM
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MCKWE:

It is as others said: you are accused to have entered and stayed in Switzerland without valid identification. You had time up to march 7 to produce an acceptable passport (and visa, if applicable).

I suggest you write a friendly letter stating your point of view about the whole affair, include a timeline of the proceedings (with precise dates of travel and when you got the letter from Switzerland), photocopy your passport, and address the whole thing to the correct authority. This should resolve the whole thing.

I understand that it was the customs office which brought your case forward (administration fédérale des douanes), while the forms were filled out by either the local police or the border guards. These authorities do not always co-ordinate their activities.

Hope this helps

Phil.
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Old Mar 19th, 2013, 02:46 PM
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Phil - I'm going to do exactly that. I will give the embassies and consulates one more try tomorrow. Then I will proceed with a letter. I'm also going to include copies of the pages where my passport was stamped at GVA.

One concern I have is that they don't have anyone who can speak English well. I would hate for my letter to get misunderstood. I may try to filter it through Google translator and send one copy in English and one in French in the same envelope.

Thanks!
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Old Mar 19th, 2013, 03:45 PM
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I would take the four hour drive and make sure it gets handled.
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Old Mar 19th, 2013, 04:05 PM
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As I said in my post, I agree with 1ready2go...but a consulate would also do, and since it's closer (in Atlanta) go in person, please. For peace of mind. Letters could be wrapped in red tape and could take weeks or months.
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Old Mar 20th, 2013, 12:37 AM
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"One concern I have is that they don't have anyone who can speak English well. I would hate for my letter to get misunderstood. I may try to filter it through Google translator and send one copy in English and one in French in the same envelope."

Very unlikely that they will not have many English speakers on the staff, but a translation would be seen as a courtesy, go for it.
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Old Mar 20th, 2013, 06:08 PM
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Are Google translators sufficiently good for this purpose? If there is any miscommunication, would it be a problem if you inadvertently introduced it through the Google translator, rather than having the potential for a mistake in translation occur at their end?
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Old Mar 20th, 2013, 07:28 PM
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I would not rely on Google for translation. Seriously. Send me your letter and I will have it translated for you. You need a "real" translation, preferably notarized, to show you mean business. You'll have to pay a bit (maybe $50) for this, including the notarization, but it's worth it.

And there are probably other people here on Fodors who can do this for you, too - I'm not soliciting business, just trying to help.

I also have a French/American lawyer in Paris if you end up in big doo-doo. He's pricey, of course, but as a last resort...
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Old Mar 20th, 2013, 07:57 PM
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Very interesting event and thread. I was stopped while driving in Switzerland about 15 years ago. Everybody on the road was pulled over and asked to show their papers. I was driving a car rented in France by a friend who had loaned me the car and was not present. The Swiss officer asked me what I was doing in Switzerland. I told him it was a vacation and showed him my passport. That was it.

I am curious about all the Fodorite's who keep their passports in their hotel rooms for safety. It seems to me that the only safe place is on your person under your clothes. What good is it in your hotel room?
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Old Mar 20th, 2013, 08:05 PM
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The fine is 3000CHF per day maximum. That's the difference between <i>au plus</i> or <i>ou plus</i>.
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Old Mar 20th, 2013, 08:18 PM
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correction: the difference between <i>au plus</i> <b>and</b> <i>ou plus</i>
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Old Mar 20th, 2013, 09:46 PM
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Spaarne..sounds like you and I are the same pp carriers!! Always on the body!!! Another point...Everytime I used a credit card in stores in Spain I was asked for my pp. Don't know about elsewhere. Also stopped on a back road in Basque country and same thing..Inernational dr. l. and again pp.. go figure!!!
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Old Mar 21st, 2013, 07:00 AM
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Michael - Thanks for the clairfication. But I still don't understand what the time period is exactly, per day of what? Per day without my passport or per day that I don't respond?

StCirq - Thanks for the offer, but I recently found someone through a friend who is also fleuent in French.

RE Passport on the body - I totally agree and always follow that rule. This was a case where I had it in a secure pocket of my jacket, but then switched jackets at the last minute. I just forgot about it. Regardless, fee free to chide away!

Update - None of the embassies or consulates I have contacted (by email and telephone) have responded to me. How sad it is that a travel blog is much more useful than the government.
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Old Mar 21st, 2013, 09:00 AM
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So are you in the States now or in Europe? Something about the 4 hour drive threw me. Some consulates are only open for phone conversations a couple of times a week for a few short hours a week. It might help to check that information again. I wouldn't write off traveling to Switzerland again. You never know what opportunity may present itself to travel there in the future. Good luck with your situation. I live in Europe but come from America. Where I live the natives call it Amerika so makes for an easy translation. In case you wondered.
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Old Mar 21st, 2013, 09:53 AM
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I have some French, live in France and believe the 3,000€ per day is the maximim which could be imposed. Something akin to "subject to a fine up to $25,000." I waited to write this until I verified it with my French teacher. She and I seriously doubt that the meter is running.

So, hope that eases your anxiety although this is just two people's opinion and of course we could be totally wrong. Here's what I would do asap: Keep trying with the consulate and embassy but get a letter off now directly to whomever wrote you, adding that the delay has been in part to getting a translation and trying to contact the Swiss consulate and embassy. Don't mention trying to conact any U.S. authorities, might annoy them.

As suggested above in the thread, send only a copy of your passport including the relevant pages that were stamped with the entrance and exit dates. Don't send financial details at this point.

Good luck. They are being thorough; you can't be the first person to reach a border without your passport and if they had been really concerned you would have been detained.
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