Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Woes of Traveling Between 2 Countries

It seems that half the time we are traveling (between the US and Costa Rica) we have some kind of international-travel-technicality mishap with one of our family members. Six weeks or so after my daughter was born in Costa Rica, the authorities would not let her leave the country because they did not have official permission from me to let her travel. The problem was, I was back in Georgia waiting for her! Nevertheless, that problem was resolved within 24 hours after a lot of phone calls and hanging out the next morning at the Costa Rica Consulate office in Marietta. The Consulate there was extremely helpful!

We were bit with that same problem again on a visit 6 months later in December of 2005. They said that the permission we provided last time was not permanent and we had to file another one. Fortunately, we had that taken care of within an hour or so and were able to fly.

On our recent return trip to Costa Rica, December 2007, in Atlanta, we were told that we had to purchase tickets right then to return to the US within the next 3 months or they would not let us fly. Well, me and the kids were told, my wife having her CR passport did not have to. Why did we have to buy return tickets? Because you can only stay in Costa Rica for 3 months at a time if you are not a citizen or resident. The kids and I had that taken care of, but we were not traveling with proof. In fact, the girl was even a citizen of Costa Rica, but the counter agent would not recognize that her birth place according to her US passport was indeed San Jose, Costa Rica. How did we get around this problem. We bought 3 REFUNDABLE tickets to return to Atlanta. That night, once we finally got home, I canceled all 3 of those tickets and got my money back.

Right now, my wife and kids have 2 sets of passports. I have an official Costa Rican Permanent Residence card. You would think that we would be ok. Well, I think that we're ok; but my wife doesn't think so.

Here's the deal: In a little more than one week, we are scheduled to fly to Atlanta. We are again scheduled to return at the end of May. My son's US passport expires in June of this year. Apparently there's some kind of rule supposedly where the airlines will not let you travel if your passport is set to expire within 6 months. My wife is pretty worried about this and is pushing the US Embassy to get my son a new passport or something ASAP.

I think though that we could be ok. If we get to the ticket counter and the ticket agent sees that my son's US passport is about to expire - it seems to me, they have to let him return to country indicated on his passport. In late May, when we return home to Costa Rica, we present the Costa Rican passport to the ticket agent - again, it seems to me that the agent has to let him return to the country indicated on his passport - in this case Costa Rica.

What do you think?


Joel Odom said...

I think you're dealing with the arbitrary and capricious nature of government bureaucrats. If there were any rhyme or reason to their thinking, you could prepare. As it is, you have to take your chances.

Anonymous said...

Open borders, dude.

Anonymous said...

Open borders, dude.

kevinc said...

I hate big government, big corporations, big bureaucracies in general. You get a rep on the phone who is powerless to do anything so you then you proceed to the supervisor who is also powerless because of some stupid policy.