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View Full Version : What to do if caught out of country if borders closed?



Captain Kidd
2007-Jun-19, 02:35 AM
OK, my wife suddenly got paranoid/concerned about what to do if we're out of the country and something occurs to close the borders. (e.g. another 9/11 type attack)

Specifically, we're going to Jamaica here soon. Theoretically, as our passports still aren't showing up as being processed. Although a June 8th US Dept of State announcement says they'll be lifting the passport requirement for US citizens re-entering via air from certain countries.

Anyways, she's on a "what if" preparatory kick and wants to find out. I told her, hey, the resorts have free ... cough ... "parties" so we'll just bake our way through the lockdown. (To which she pointed out that if I have a problem taking an occasional pain med prescribed to her, she seriously doubts any "baking" I do is going to be anything other than my paper-white skin in the harsh tropical sun.)

I'm not having much luck digging into the State Dept website on this "what if". So I thought I'd ask here. :) Anybody know the drill if the US shuts the borders for whatever reason? (Beyond, "hope you've got money on ya.")

ktesibios
2007-Jun-19, 02:48 AM
My suggestion would be to thank your lucky stars that you won't be trapped in the mire of meatheaded authoritarianism that would likely descend upon us if such a thing were to happen.

Tucson_Tim
2007-Jun-19, 02:52 AM
Extend your vacation? :)

LurchGS
2007-Jun-19, 02:53 AM
Captain Kidd -

*assuming* you have no passport (why are you overseas without one?) when the borders close, the first stop should be the US Embassy (or Consulate). They will have channels (and probably already have received the protocols for what to do).

01101001
2007-Jun-19, 04:02 AM
Contact the local terrorists wherever you are. Sign up. They'll know how to get you back in.

Jeff Root
2007-Jun-19, 06:14 AM
Hitch a ride with some drug runners.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

Maksutov
2007-Jun-19, 10:02 AM
Stay in Jamaica. They speak English, mon.
Joint, sorry, join the Rastafarians (get a good tan first)! Whoa, it's been how many years since I was in the US?
Get even, become a British citizen.
Chill out.
Buy hurricane insurance.
Write a book about the best topless and clothing-optional beaches.
Avoid all recruitment offers from Dr. No.
Enjoy life, mon!

Noclevername
2007-Jun-19, 12:21 PM
During 9/11, my Dad and stepmom were on their honeymoon, in Hawaii. Got stuck for more than a week. Nice place to be stuck, but the hotel refused to extend their stay & they got 'stuck' with a bill that took years to pay off.

Doodler
2007-Jun-19, 12:33 PM
Joint, sorry, join the Rastafarians (get a good tan first)! Whoa, it's been how many years since I was in the US?

No Rastamon in Jamaica, mon... De Ethiopian king grant them lands in dere "holy land" and dey all move to dat hellhole. Even worship de kingmon as a living God for his gift.

DoodlerMode [ACTIVE]

Gotta wonder how much frickin' chronic you've gotta inhale before Ethiopia starts looking like paradise...:eh:

Jim
2007-Jun-19, 12:55 PM
*assuming* you have no passport (why are you overseas without one?) ...

Current US policy allows citizens to travel to Mexico, Canada, and the Carribbean without passports.

Note: If this happens to you, PM me. I have the name of a coyote... er, travel agent in Nuevo Laredo that could come in handy. He could even get you a job at a poultry processing plant if you're interested.

SeanF
2007-Jun-19, 01:38 PM
Current US policy allows citizens to travel to Mexico, Canada, and the Carribbean without passports.
Just to clarify, the policy is that you don't need the actual passport if you can prove that you have applied for one and simply haven't received it yet.

And, of course, that policy could be reversed at a moment's notice (and, I think, quite probably would be in the event of another 9/11 type attack).

Captain Kidd
2007-Jun-19, 01:40 PM
I've been in Texas, no thanks. ;) I'll wave down a passing Haitian boat (yes I know Jamaica is west of Haiti, but it's not like they have the best of navigational systems).

Yeah it's current policy, however my concern, which is over that of closing of the borders, is to have my rear left hanging if something happens to suddenly cause that policy to be retracted. I'm confident that there's policies in place to cover that. Not to mention, my prints are all over the frigging place in the bowels of the US databases. You've gotta be a US citizen to work at a nuke plant. I worked at a nuke plant. Therefore, I'm a US citizen, just query the NRC's database.
...
That's a logical approach and rarely does any government bureaucracy work on logic.

It's still a month before we go so there's still plenty of time. Our relatives' applications are shown as being processed so ours should be in there right behind them.

SeanF
2007-Jun-19, 01:53 PM
Yeah it's current policy, however my concern, which is over that of closing of the borders, is to have my rear left hanging if something happens to suddenly cause that policy to be retracted.
The passport policy is pretty much a red herring, to your concerns. When they closed the borders and grounded the planes after 9/11, nobody was getting into the country for a few days whether they had passports or not.


That's a logical approach and rarely does any government bureaucracy work on logic.
You've noticed that, too, eh? :)

Captain Kidd
2007-Jun-19, 02:02 PM
The passport policy is pretty much a red herring, to your concerns. When they closed the borders and grounded the planes after 9/11, nobody was getting into the country for a few days whether they had passports or not.Not really. I'd say something is more likely to cause the policy to be retracted than to cause the shutting of the borders. For example, a sudden "concern" that terrorists are using fake driver licenses and passport applications to enter the US via flying in from one of the approved countries. It doesn't have to be a real event, just the sudden fear of something happening to take advantage of the intentional passport loophole.

SeanF
2007-Jun-19, 03:05 PM
Not really. I'd say something is more likely to cause the policy to be retracted than to cause the shutting of the borders. For example, a sudden "concern" that terrorists are using fake driver licenses and passport applications to enter the US via flying in from one of the approved countries. It doesn't have to be a real event, just the sudden fear of something happening to take advantage of the intentional passport loophole.
Good point.

Doodler
2007-Jun-19, 03:22 PM
I'm not having much luck digging into the State Dept website on this "what if". So I thought I'd ask here. :) Anybody know the drill if the US shuts the borders for whatever reason? (Beyond, "hope you've got money on ya.")

Don't hope. Have extra money available. Most lock downs aren't more than a few days, so if some buncha knuckledraggers decide to relieve us of their presence in the mortal coil at the same time taking several hundred people with them, be ready for another week in the sun.

Credit cards, traveller's checks, debit cards, whatever. The borders get closed, the computers still work.

Ilya
2007-Jun-19, 03:30 PM
During 9/11, my Dad and stepmom were on their honeymoon, in Hawaii. Got stuck for more than a week. Nice place to be stuck, but the hotel refused to extend their stay & they got 'stuck' with a bill that took years to pay off.

The week before 9/11 an acquaintant of mine was diving in Truk Lagoon. ON 9/11 he was flying back from Polynesia. Their trip involved changing planes in Ecuador, so not surprisingly he and his wife were "stuck" in Ecuador for a week. Not only they got some more tropical diving in, but the airline paid for the hotel!

Moral of the story -- time your trips so that you are actually on a plane when terrorists attack. Preferably not on the same plane as the terrorists.

aurora
2007-Jun-19, 06:20 PM
And try to make your plane changes in places that are nice.

for example, never change planes in Newark.

Tucson_Tim
2007-Jun-19, 06:24 PM
And try to make your plane changes in places that are nice.

for example, never change planes in Newark.

And where does the Newark-basher reside?

Gillianren
2007-Jun-19, 06:30 PM
Not really. I'd say something is more likely to cause the policy to be retracted than to cause the shutting of the borders. For example, a sudden "concern" that terrorists are using fake driver licenses and passport applications to enter the US via flying in from one of the approved countries. It doesn't have to be a real event, just the sudden fear of something happening to take advantage of the intentional passport loophole.

It's not as though it's impossible to get forged passports, either. People've been doing it for a very long time.

farmerjumperdon
2007-Jun-19, 07:33 PM
It's not as though it's impossible to get forged passports, either. People've been doing it for a very long time.

Just go to the Cafe Americain and ask for Rick. And ask the guy at the piano to play that song, you know the one.

aurora
2007-Jun-19, 07:43 PM
And where does the Newark-basher reside?

Have you ever been to the Newark airport?

Is so, imagine spending a weekend there, if you got stuck due to a flight being cancelled?

Lianachan
2007-Jun-19, 08:39 PM
My country only has one land border - if that ever got closed, I'd be delighted!

:)

Swift
2007-Jun-19, 09:14 PM
The week before 9/11 an acquaintant of mine was diving in Truk Lagoon. ON 9/11 he was flying back from Polynesia. Their trip involved changing planes in Ecuador, so not surprisingly he and his wife were "stuck" in Ecuador for a week. Not only they got some more tropical diving in, but the airline paid for the hotel!

Moral of the story -- time your trips so that you are actually on a plane when terrorists attack. Preferably not on the same plane as the terrorists.
A fellow I worked with at the time was in mid-air over the Atlantic at the time of the attack, returning from Europe. They were diverted to Nova Scotia and he was stuck for several days there without his luggage (they wouldn't allow them to get it for some reason). He slept on a cot in a local school, not exactly fun, but he said the people of NS were very kind.



Just go to the Cafe Americain and ask for Rick. And ask the guy at the piano to play that song, you know the one.

Rick: [rushing up] Sam, I thought I told you never to play-...
[Sees Ilsa. Sam closes the piano and rolls it away]

Captain Kidd
2007-Jun-20, 02:56 PM
It's not as though it's impossible to get forged passports, either. People've been doing it for a very long time.
I know, mainly I'm waiting for some "sky-is-falling" section of the public or government to find this "free way in" (my guess at their thinking, not my thinking) and try to get it suspended.

Either way I'm not that concerned.

Tucson_Tim
2007-Jun-20, 03:00 PM
I think you're worrying too much. Go on vacation. Relax. If the situation evolves, then deal with it. What's the alternative? Stay home?

The only thing (and it has already been mentioned) is to have access to extra emergency money - but that's good advice on any trip.

Captain Kidd
2007-Jun-20, 03:12 PM
Read my first post and last sentence of the last post again. I'm not that concerned, it's a possibility, but not one to lose sleep over. Plus, it wasn't me that asked the question in the first place, just my wife what-ifing. (what-if'ing?)

A hurricane (whee! I've always wanted to have a hurricane party! ;) ) or keeping my wallet on me and not having it find its way into somebody else's possession while out gawking at the sights is higher. And so far the hurricane season has been light. (Now I've jinxed myself into a Cat 5.)

Tucson_Tim
2007-Jun-20, 03:19 PM
Shouldn't a man with an id like "Captain Kidd" be able to protect his spouse against all dangers? :lol:

Captain Kidd
2007-Jun-20, 03:22 PM
Heh, I maintain that his wife was his downfall. She had this chronic issue of marrying sailors who then died.

Tucson_Tim
2007-Jun-20, 03:28 PM
Heh, I maintain that his wife was his downfall. She had this chronic issue of marrying sailors who then died.

I have a suggestion: Leave her home and go on wild pirate cruise thru the Caribbean: Drinking and pillaging (and the other things ;) ).

snowcelt
2007-Jun-20, 04:00 PM
Always remember that ANY embassy is a refuge. Years ago I had some trouble in W. Germany. I had no cash and went to the American consulate, as a Canadian, and they hooked me up with my guys. The marine with the M-16 gave me a coke. Everyone was great!

snowcelt
2007-Jun-20, 04:11 PM
Try any embassy! I ran into some trouble in W. Germany and ended up broke---real broke. I went to the American consulate and they hooked me up with my guys. The marine even gave me a coke!

Moose
2007-Jun-20, 04:31 PM
Embassies and consulates are your friends. Besides, it's exceptionally rare for a (western) border to be closed at all, unprecedented to be closed for more than a day or two. They know US citizens will have a legitimate (and pressing) need to come home at some point.

Even when traveling to a country where you don't strictly need a passport, it's not a bad idea to have one on you anyway. It's not like they're that hard to get and maintain.

Captain Kidd
2007-Jun-20, 04:36 PM
Yeah, just right now they're being inundated with passport applications and thus they're lagging bad. Other relatives who applied the same day but at a different post office has showing up as being processed. Our check has cleared, so some sort of action has been taken. Plus the on-line status report is lagging a week or so behind the actual application processing time frame.

Jim
2007-Jun-20, 04:41 PM
The marine with the M-16 gave me a coke.

You have just uncovered the Top Secret US Plan to Rule the World... cokes and jeans. Once we get people hooked on those two, they are ours.

All that military posturing is just a distraction.

Swift
2007-Jun-20, 05:43 PM
Even when traveling to a country where you don't strictly need a passport, it's not a bad idea to have one on you anyway. It's not like they're that hard to get and maintain.
I always do. It always has surprised how few Americans, even those who travel out of the country (Mexico or Canada) don't have passports. I've had one since I was about 20 (I'm on my third renewal).

The real fun with a US passport is using it as ID in the US. Try cashing a check, when they ask for ID, show them your passport. It is MUCH MORE official than any driver's license, but most clerks don't know what to make of them and ask to see some "real ID". :doh:

Captain Kidd
2007-Jun-20, 05:50 PM
Got a friend that does the same with his carry permit. However, it (well, the Tenn version) is similar out driver's license so it's usually a couple moments before the clerk realizes they're looking at a weapons permit.

Moose
2007-Jun-20, 05:58 PM
I always do. It always has surprised how few Americans, even those who travel out of the country (Mexico or Canada) don't have passports. I've had one since I was about 20 (I'm on my third renewal).

Actually, I've noticed that Canada Customs really doesn't seem to care who you are, just that you're not smuggling booze or smokes (without paying duty, anyway). They're pretty scary if you have food matter with you, though.

Except at an airport (once), I don't think I've ever been carded by a Canadian customs person.

Swift
2007-Jun-20, 06:41 PM
Actually, I've noticed that Canada Customs really doesn't seem to care who you are, just that you're not smuggling booze or smokes (without paying duty, anyway). They're pretty scary if you have food matter with you, though.

Except at an airport (once), I don't think I've ever been carded by a Canadian customs person.
I went by train from Paris to Vienna (through southern Germany) in 1985. All the way across, even upon arrival in Vienna, no one every looked at my passport. On the way back, after about 3 stops in Germany, Customs came on board and asked for passports. I took mine out of my pocket, they saw the cover, and said OK. I also did a trip from Paris to Amsterdam and no one ever checked in either direction.

Gillianren
2007-Jun-21, 02:43 AM
Except at an airport (once), I don't think I've ever been carded by a Canadian customs person.

It's been a while since I've been to Canada, but I'm pretty sure we just sort of flashed our IDs as they waved us off the ferry. Now, on the American side, it took some time!

Captain Kidd
2007-Jul-20, 03:35 PM
Well our passports dribbled in over the past few weeks. We got our senator's office involved to get them to expedite the Midshipman's passport. Which they hadn't start processing as of a week ago when the request was made. We did find out that typically the processing centers don't even pull the applications until 2-3 days before departure and frequently same-day mail the passports on the day of departure. As in you get the passport hours before you're suppose to depart.

Another little wrinkle cropped up yesterday too. Originally we were going to Disney World before deciding to go to Jamaica and the low-cost carrier we chose to fly to Orlando doesn't do refunds.

The relative that bought the tickets didn't even think to check on airports. After all, why would a city have more than one airport right? I happened to mention the trip to a professor who suggest that I look into it. Well, we're flying into Sanford and out of Orlando International. :eek: Fortunately it's a 3 hour layover. There was a mad scramble to reserve a shuttle to get us between airports. Now to just hope our first flight doesn't run too late.

Jim
2007-Jul-20, 06:33 PM
Well, you're lucky. You could have flown in and out of DFW.

Yeah, sure, same airport, but it's in two counties. If you change airlines, the trip from one terminal to the other can take longer than the trip to the next airport.

Hey, we build 'em BIG in Texas!

Ebemot
2007-Jul-20, 06:45 PM
The real fun with a US passport is using it as ID in the US. Try cashing a check, when they ask for ID, show them your passport. It is MUCH MORE official than any driver's license, but most clerks don't know what to make of them and ask to see some "real ID". :doh:

The real fun is using a passport from some other country in the US as ID, since many people in the US seem unaware of the existence of other countries.

snarkophilus
2007-Jul-21, 06:21 AM
In Canada, we have this nice law that says that if you claim to be a Canadian citizen, they can't turn you away at the border. Even if you have no ID, they'll put you up until they can verify your identity (or debunk your claim, as the case may be).

Hint: if you want to get through Canada Customs really quickly, speak to the agent in French. Sometimes they'll even be nice and overlook the taxes on the excess goods you're bringing back in.

A couple of years ago, I got into the USA with no passport and no real photo ID. I had just renewed my driver's license, so I just had a piece of paper with my name on it. I convinced two airlines and the American customs agent that my student ID was good enough... it took a little while, but wasn't really hard. Coming back in was no problem at all.

Captain Kidd
2007-Jul-25, 09:15 PM
Well, in/out was no problem. Some people griped and moaned about "our freedom being taken away" but, meh, I've spent more time waiting for a ride at Six Flags than I did doing Immigrations/Customs. I donno, maybe I'm part of the "mindless herds" after all. ;) I actually had more trouble in Jamacian security. Something in an empty pocket kept setting off the wand. My wife needs a lesson or two from the Jamaican security guard. That lady felt me up in ways my wife hasn't dreamt of. (Hey, why does FF flag dreamt as misspelled?)

Although I never got drunk, never really got buzzed either, I'm done looking at alcohol for awhile. Bleah, I have no idea how many calories I took in just from the drinks. It was all-inclusive, so all you had to do was go to the bar, order a drink, and walk off; wallet none the lighter. (That part happened when you booked.)

I took 1,000 photos +/- so it's going to take some time sorting through them and determining which are keepers.

Man, the best part was yesterday some of us got totally fed up with resort directed activities and hired a driver to "show us Jamaica." It took some time to convince him that no, we don't want to go to Ricks, or the market, or any other touristy spot. Just choose a direction and drive. Got to see parts of the island few visitors go to and a "native only" (in other words off the tourist destinations list) park for lunch.

Speaking of driving, yikes, I'd have wrecked in 5 seconds. Their passing, umm, technique is rather interesting. But everybody's into it and it's neat to see oncoming traffic take to the shoulder to give you room. Here you'd be hit just for spite.