August 11, 2011

Travelling with Fifteen Passports

No, I'm not a spy, but when our family goes travelling, we tote a large stack of passports with us. I'm always nervous that something will get lost in the melee. I suppose having to keep on top of your passport and visa situation is a very common expat phenomenon, but all I can say, if you become an expat, try not to have any dual nationalities.

At the very minimum, our selection looks like this:

Three German passports and three American ones, whichever has the respective South African visa. However, some of those passports expired on us since we've lived here, so we need the new ones to travel as well as the old ones to re-enter South Africa. Technically you could go to Home Affairs and transfer your visa to your new passport, but honestly? Who wants to go deal with them unless it's absolutely necessary?

When we travel to the U.S., we all have to bring our American passports, in addition to the three German passports with the South African visas, and most often we just go ahead and take all of them so that the visa and entry stamps can be better distributed. Noisette has been known to run out of pages before so you have to be strategic about where you allocate space when you enter a new country.

Our passport haul when everybody brings every
passport is 16 (Noisette's three  not pictured here)
But the grand prize of travel documents will be in our backpacks for our upcoming trip to Zanzibar, which requires Yellow Fever immunizations and according documentation:

The good news is I have a big backpack! I'll keep you posted on how long it will take to get through immigration with all of this. I'm already looking forward to the cramped and sweat-stenched arrival hall, shepherding all our bags and kids (and passports) past bored-looking officials collecting exorbitant visa fees in US-dollars. Or maybe Tanzania is not at all like Zimbabwe and Mozambique and everything will be a breeze.


Pookytoo said...

Lol that does sound like fun.We are arranging a trip to Zanzibar as well. We will be arriving from Kuwait and meeting our daughter from Cape Town.This too is an interesting exercise as there is no Tanzanian embassy here in Kuwait and they have not heard of yellow fever vaccinations. Need to track down malaria prophylaxis next. Oh well , all part of the fun. Enjoy your trip!

1986 CR Swart Matrieks said...

Wow - that does look complicated.

nikkimoffitt said...

Hi Sine - did you recently get your yellow fever shots? We are going to Kili in a month and our local doctor has told us there is a South African wide shortage of yellow fever vaccine and we can travel with a 'exemption' certificate. I am not sure that exempts you from catching yellow fever though...Interested to know where you got your stash from?

Martina said...

well you definitely can't get away with a sleek document carrier! You need a filing cabinet for that lot!! Enjoy your hols :-)

Sine said...

Well - just back now and let me first say that no one, I mean NO ONE was interested in our Yellow fever certificates. Didn't need them going there nor coming back to South Africa. The only thing Tanzania immigration was interested in was US-Dollars, and interestingly enough (no one had told us this helpful bit) American's pay $100 for the visa, while Europeans pay $50 (at least Germans but I assume it's true for the rest of Europe too. And this had to be the trip that we didn't actually bring all the passports as I'm always afraid we'll lose some. So we were actually short some money because three of our visas were $100 each - will blog about that experience some other time, but if you have different passports, make sure you take them all as one might be cheaper than the other.

Regarding yellow fever shortage - we got our shots a while back when travelling to Mozambique and thinking we needed them, so that would have been sometime early April. Got them at Intercare at Fourways. Good luck with that, and good luck with Kili! On my list do do one day! I'll be following your story about the trip.

Sine said...

BTW, I would definitely do the malaria medicine, we had Malamil (still taking it). There were mosquito nets everywhere but those mosquitoes are fast and get in there before you notice, and you also get bitten at dusk. Good luck with your Zanzibar trip. It's a beautiful place, we loved it there.