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September 2006 Vol. 32, No. 9   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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When a Passport Isn't Enough

from the September, 2006 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Undercurrent subscriber Atilla Molnar (Wayne, NJ) is a frequent visitor to Indonesia, but was stunned last year when changing planes at Guam. When a Passport Isn’t EnoughHe told us that a Continental ticket agent refused to let him board his connecting flight because he had fewer than three blank pages left in his passport (2-3/4, to be precise). Despite his protests, Continental told him that he would need to fly to Manila to get extra pages from the U.S. Embassy, the closest to Guam. Desperate to salvage his dive trip to Komodo, Molnar flew round trip to Manila, spending an additional $2000, including the tab to reschedule his Bali flight.

Upon return, Molnar protested to Continental. A representative finally admitted that the ticket agent had made a mistake, but stonewalled Molnar’s request for a refund. He took the airline to small claims court and recently got a settlement.

Continental’s refusal to let Molnar travel to Bali was absurd. However, there is another requirement travelers to Indonesia and some other countries must observe: a passport must be valid for at least six months from the date of arrival. The State Department says that “Indonesian authorities regularly deny entry to Americans who arrive with less than six months validity on their passports. Travelers will be required to depart for Singapore or a nearby country to obtain a new U.S. passport.” One must also have a visa, which is given at the airports upon entry. Several Americans have been jailed or fined for visa violations.

Many countries have unique immigration restrictions. Get information at the Consular Information link at They update the listings regularly, but for current information, you’ll find links and phone numbers for each country’s U.S. consular offices. The State Department does not maintain a list of countries that demand passports valid for at least six months, but you can check with the consular office for any country you’re planning to visit.

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