Forgot Passport - Prosecuted

Old Mar 22nd, 2013, 07:54 PM
  #61  
 
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Of course it "recognizes" lots of languages. That's totally different from what the "official languages" are. As thursdays noted, the embassy site is first in French, with options to switch other languages, including English, for parts of it.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2013, 05:13 AM
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For a civilians there are only two pieces of government-issued ID which comply with the regulations in the EU:
1. your passport (when you come from outside the EU)
2. your national ID card (if the member state where you resides issues them)

Your Drivers license, which by the way is not issued by your country's government but only state, is as much valid as your library card. Between some EU countries, exemptions with DLs or other forms of ID exist, but those only affect the respective nationals or residents and not foreign visitors. Or are also okay for other purposes like to check-in at airports.

No one can force you to carry your passport with you.
You just should not be so naive not to understand that you are outside the law.
And that it will be at the discretion of the respective LEO to fine or detain you - or not.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2013, 05:18 AM
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And the correspondance from the Swiss is in French because the incident ocurred in one of the French-language cantons of Switzerland. And is dealt with by the legal offices also of that canton. If the same had happened at the Swiss-German border, the letter would have been in German.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2013, 05:22 AM
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<i>The Swiss embassy website seems to prefer French</i>

Probably because it used to be the diplomatic language of the world in addition to being one of Switzerland's official languages, thus taking precedence over its other official languages.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2013, 05:25 AM
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Cowboy - so if you live in an EU state and it doesn't issue a national ID card, what do you carry?
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Old Mar 23rd, 2013, 05:28 AM
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I don't get why this is so complicated. The OP broke the law and has been sent official instructions from the government of the country in which it happened. The OP needs to follow the instructions and hope for the best - no larger fine for not responding on time or name being placed on an "illegal entry" list and having problems entering other countries in schengen.

I have no specific knowledge but would suggest that if not discharged this might well result in the equivlent of an arrest warrant and ban of entry into Schengen.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2013, 07:16 AM
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MCKWE...Once again..I don't know why you're putting off going to the Consulate in Atlanta. Call and make an appt. (and possibly bring your local atty. along), but that, to me, is the only sensible thing you can do at this point....and time goes on.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2013, 08:55 AM
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tower,

Further up the thread OP said he has had no response to email or telephone calls to the Swiss embassy or consulate.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2013, 09:25 AM
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Cowboy,
Well spoken.

MCKWE,
Your experience so far with the officials is not unlike my frustration dealing with the Veterans Administration recently on behalf of my brother. No response to repeated phone calls. We went to the VA Center in Saginaw yesterday and were bounced around from office to office and back again. It reminded me of the John Cleese Fawlty Towers series on BBC. No resolution. We have to go back. They don't make reservations.

If I were you I would send a certified letter with a copy of your passport to the personal attention of the Swiss Ambassador Manuel Sager in Washington, DC. See http://tinyurl.com/2abeunm. Everybody below him is a fonctionnaire hired specifically not to make decisions. Only the top dog can bark.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2013, 09:59 AM
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After reading this interesting thread, my conclusions are:

(1) You can prove that you *were* in the country legally with the visa stamps in you passport, so you cannot be fined 3000 CHF per day for being in the country illegally.

(2) It's possible they will fine you a minor amount for not having your passport on your person. If so, pay the fine and be done with it!

(3) A letter mailed on 3MAR from Switzerland to the USA, expecting a reply by 7MAR, creates an impossible expectation, and you cannot be liable for missing that deadline. You have already responded by mail and email with the requested information, and this "time stamps" the date of your response. Print out your email, making sure the time and date are on it, and keep it in a safe place. If you have proof of mailing, retain this as well, and keep a record of the date that you left a phone message with the Swiss Embassy or Consulate.

If you receive no response to your emails, letters, or phone messages, then forget about it. You have responded with a copy of your passport with the appropriate visa stamps. If they want further information, it is their responsibility to request the same of you.

And we all can learn from the experience - always have your passport with you when abroad!
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Old Mar 23rd, 2013, 10:26 AM
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thursdaysd,

If you are an EU national from a member state that knows no national ID cards (like the UK or ROI) you carry your passport when you visit the "Continent".
Or you should carry your passport:
I remember a British tourist at Faro airport in Portugal last fall who tried to get through passport control to leave the Schengen area with just his drivers license. Needless to say that he did not make it. Until he managed to get a hold of his wife by phone who carried his passport in her purse and was wandering around somewhere in the airport.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2013, 10:43 AM
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Cowboy - I should have been more specific. What if you live in a Schengen state with no ID cards? Or are there none?
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Old Mar 23rd, 2013, 11:59 AM
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"At present, three European Union member states (Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom) do not issue national identity cards to their citizens. Therefore, EU citizens from these three countries can only use a passport as a travel document to enter and reside in the EEA (EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway) and Switzerland without a visa." (Wiki)
Only Denmark, Iceland and Norway (expected in 2015) among the Schengen states don't at present issue ID cards to their nationals.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2013, 12:53 PM
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What Alec wrote. If your EU or Schengen country does not issue ID cards, you have to carry your passport. As most countries issue ID cards, it is in almost everyone's wallet anytime anyway.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2013, 12:57 PM
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Actually the possession of a passport or ID varies across the EU so
Germany you have to have a passport with you at all times
Austria you need to be able to get to it within 1 hour
Italy you need to be able to get to it within 12 hours and of course
Switzerland you have to have a passport with you at all times
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Old Mar 23rd, 2013, 02:09 PM
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Well...this information certainly bodes well for the idea of not leaving your pp in the hotel room..Keep it body side!!!
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Old Mar 23rd, 2013, 02:15 PM
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Basically, this looks like a good lesson for all of those people who seem to think that a photocopy of their papers is as good as the real thing. If the rules say that you should have your papers, they really <b>mean</b> that you should have your authentic papers with you. Do any of you really think that back home, if you were stopped in traffic, that you could just show a photocopy of your driver's licence instead of the real thing?
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Old Mar 23rd, 2013, 04:56 PM
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Yes, but americans don;t have ID cards - there is no such thing - and MANY people reco to leave your passport in the hotel so it isn't stolen - which IMHO is close to madness. I always want something so valuable with me at all times - even if it weren't the law.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2013, 09:27 PM
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I have been following this thread with great interest, as I am planning to visit Switzerland soon and had not known of the requirement to have one’s passport at all times.

I’ve never knowlingly traveled abroad without carrying my passport on my person, except when I was required to leave it with my hotel. Although I’
ve never done so, it seems that I’ve frequently read on-line recommendations to leave one’s passport in a hotel safe, so I decided to check the guidebooks that I am using to plan my trip to Switzerland. I did NOT check every page; I only checked the sections covering basic travel info and requirements. I looked at:

The DK Eyewitness Guide, 2005
Fodors, 2011
Frommer’s, 2012
Lonely Planet, 2012
Michelin Green Guide, 2013
Rough Guide, 2010

Of these 6 guidebooks, the ONLY one that I found that said, in an obvious place, that one should always carry one’s passport, was the Lonely Planet guidebook. Let me clearly acknowledge that this information most certainly could have been in the other books, or in more current versions of them. I did not examine these books page-by-page.

I will say, though, that one of the main reasons that I’ve been purchasing travel guidebooks is to get information about legal requirements. I am disappointed that clearer information about this requirement was not readily available in the guidebooks I consulted.

Best wishes, MCKWE, and many thanks for bringing this requirement to our attention.
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Old Mar 24th, 2013, 12:15 AM
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kja, interesting observation.
In Most European countries it is a legal requirement to have some sort of ID with you. A legal document with a photo. The best one is a passport.
Europeans carry around with them either local (for their own country)ID cards or passports.I can never understand the advice to leave them in hotel rooms.
Hopefully Fodors will see this posting and amend their books soon.
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