Going over visa requirements on the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs website, I came across a page which listed countries whose citizens could get into Turkey with their national ID cards. Now, all fine up to here. What surprised me so much was that below was a list of countries whose citizens could get into Turkey with EXPIRED national ID's! Germans could get in with ID's expired within the last year. Citizens of Belgium, France, Spain, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Portugal and Bulgaria can enter with national ID's expired in the last 5 years. 5 years! 5 years expired documents valid to get into a country?!
I found it amazing and wrote to the ministry asking for an explanation. I didn't get an answer. So I decided to ask people in the Every Passport Stamp group, a FB group of people who are after every country. "Anybody has any idea of similar rule anywhere else around the world and do you know the logic?" I asked.
Then I asked for one more thing: "I'd appreciate it much if any of the above citizens, when going to Turkey next time, could carry an old ID and try to enter with that and tell me if they really let you in. I mean they should. It's written out clearly. I'm attaching the screenshot from the government's website, so you can show it to them in case they object. But of course, no need to say, carry a valid ID with you, in case there is a problem you can take that out and get in.
Thank you so much."
The first reaction was: “Sure because we have nothing else to do. Are you on drugs? :))“
I don't know why people need to be snotty. Not that I was offended; didn't take it personally as I have never used any drug. Still... it's not very nice or decent if you ask me. Anyway...
“Not because you have nothing else to do but some people might be curious to know. It doesn't cost anything, but might teach you/us something,” I said. “Isn't it a curious fact??”
For me, it indeed is. For someone else it was too.
“I know that you can use an expired British Passport to return to Britain, and I would assume as much for most countries - but would never have thought of countries accepting foreign ID's which have expired... I guess as long as you can still distinguish from the photo, it's not as if you are no longer you...”
Yes, that's what I would have thought. You can go back to your own country even with an expired document. It's only logical. However, other countries accepting expired ID's was still totally strange for me.
“It used to be the case that Canadians and Americans could cross the border with expired passports. Not sure whether that's still the case,” wrote someone else.
“Do you know if it was an official policy or something that immigration officers turned a blind eye to?” I asked.
“Canada expressly allows the use of expired US passports for entry,” came the reply.
“This was also the case with driving to and from Mexico!” a third party added.
Okay. It made sense among next-door neighbors too I suppose. But then again... Why couldn't they/we extend this further? Why wouldn't/shouldn't all countries accept all expired passports? I believe they are all trained on all world passports at borders.
As for being able to distinguish from the photo... I thought that was the point of ID's having an expiry date. Otherwise, paper doesn't go stale, even though we do ;)
Again, even though we may age and hopefully mature in character, our identities generally remain the same from birth to death.: safe for women getting married or divorced, or special requests of name changes.
So if the point is to be able to recognize you from your photo... Then why is there a "Passports need to be valid for at least six months at the time of entry" rule?
I know I know... They argue what if you get sick and need to stay in the country longer than planned. But again, so what? What if your passport has expired a month ago? What's the harm? Why should you/we be put in jail or get into such trouble for such a trifle?
So what if our passport expires and we want to exit a foreign country? I'm not sure if you know of all the consequences, all the trouble you might find yourself in. Try searching for some horror stories from absent-minded travellers in Russia. Or read the Passport Idiot by Tom Ley to find out how many people go through how much hassle every day for this rule imposed on all travellers.
It simply doesn't make any sense to me to be able to travel with five year expired ID's in a world where we need passport validity of 6 months to go almost anywhere.
“I know that the Italian ID card, the paper-based version, can be extended with a simple stamp and a scribble by an official, and the electronic one with a letter. Probably the Turks are just waving the problem away in this way. At the end of the day, it's not as if you can do much with an expired ID in terms of pulling serious fraud, can you?”
I laughed so much at this. Here was an Italian, making it seem so easy. As if anything in Italy is ever that easy! Even if it may be so on paper, practice is something else. Or perhaps he was lucky and we unlucky. Previous Italian ID's were valid for 5 years, then they extended it to 10. You didn't really need to have it stamped. All officials knew about it. However, we were planning to go to England, and for some reason my husband wanted to use the ID instead of his passport. As the expiry date written clearly at the back had passed even though the card was still valid according to the Italians, he wanted to have it updated. After all, the British authorities might not know about this change and we could be getting into trouble. So Carlo went to the municipality in Rome, as they were the ones who issued it, but was refused because we had transferred to Velletri. So next, he went to the municipality in Velletri. He was again refused, this time because the ID wasn't issued there! They didn't offer any solutions. Just left us stuck in purgatory.
As for not being able to do much with an expired ID in terms of pulling serious fraud... No?! I suppose expired ID's can be given to others... That might be a concern. I don't know...
I don't know as I have no knowledge about identity frauds or any other frauds. I'd say you can. But if not, why can't everybody travel with an expired ID or a passport? It's the same thing, no? Why is there a validity date for papers for some people and not for others? So I keep turning back to the same questions.
A different question would be... Why is Germany allowed ID expired in the last year and other listed countries 5 years? Plus, Italy is a European country allowed to enter Turkey with an ID. What is the difference for Italians, why aren't they included in the list of countries who can go in with expired ID's??
It simply doesn't make any sense to me.
Then another answer came: "You seem to have missed the last decades. Before Schengen, since the seventies, we Austrians (and dozens others) were allowed to go to Italy with an expired passport (5 years) - and vice versa. Nowadays we, as you Italians too, are allowed to enter Croatia and other countries with expired passports. The reason is easy to explain : Even 5 years expired passports are machine-readable and you may get all infos you want immediately online. That is why expired passport are no longer stamped “Expired“ or punched. The passport tells you who is there and the computer tells you the rest! Falsifications are not possible since a long time- so no need to be extra-strict with European passport holders. But perhaps you should focus on real problems."
"Yes, I did," I said. I missed the days we (Turkish) could travel without a visa in Europe. I made to see the days without airline security searches but it's a distant memory now... His explanation made sense, but there was a catch: We are not talking about expired passports, this is expired ID's. Do the above listed countries have machine-readable ID's? If so, that might make a bit of sense. That might also explain the discrepancy why Italy is not included on that list as I have not seen an electronic ID in Italy as of yet. So even if they might exist, I take it they are not very common.
Then a British volunteered: “When you book a ticket with Vueling, the website states that British passport holders can visit Spain with an expired passport. I've never seen this rule anywhere else.”
“Brits cannot travel in the rest of Europe with expired passports,” commented the Austrian.
Okay... So now I pose another question: What happens if a UK citizen goes to Spain with an expired passport and then travels onward in Europe? It's easy as there are no borders (at least theoretically.) I actually have an idea as this is what happened to me in reverse when I was returning home from my second round-the-world tour. I was about to be declared Persona Non Grata.
“I don't think I'd like to try it out,” said the British guy.
“Why wouldn't you like to try it out?” I said. “Of course you wouldn't want to turn up at the airport without any alternative. You should always carry the document that will let you in without trouble. So take your valid passport with you too. But trying with one that should be valid is not a problem. If they say no, you can always present the 'correct' one and be on your way. I've done that in many places. Just to test.”
It doesn't cost anything. Gives you insight to the world of rules and its applications.
Smuggling a Baby
Once, we were arguing with my husband if we could take our daughter out of the country without a passport. She was 9 months-old and it was going to be our first trip to Turkey, my home country. The Italian government does not issue ID's to babies. The Turkish does. My husband claimed EU regulations require a passport even for babies, so he wanted to get her the Italian passport. I insisted she could get out of Italy with her Turkish ID. After all, she was going to a country she was a citizen of. But of course, there was the issue of her return to Italy. I wasn't so sure about that but surely, they wouldn't, or couldn't (?!) detain a baby born in their country, or refuse entry to her with both her parents along. She'd still have a valid ID, even if a Turkish one. Oh, perhaps they wouldn't let us board the plane in the first place. Okay, of course no parent would do such a thing but what would they have done if we just left the baby there and went on to board our plane? Stuck in another purgatory.
We also started discussing about photo being required for the passport. Actually I started the discussion, my innocent husband is always my victim in such cases. Whenever I do not like something, I raise questions why we need to do it and try to find ways to get around it. If you asked my husband, he'd just do what he is told and get on peacefully with his life.
I claimed photo of a baby was meaningless. Who checks? Who can tell with babies anyway? I even suggested that we put the photo of a friend's baby. I was adamant that we could go around without trouble at all anywhere. :)))) Now, thinking about it, or rather writing about it, I cannot but laugh at myself. But I really believed in it, and still do in fact. It's just a pointless enforcement. Still... Why not just do what they ask without questions? (See? :)) -Again another question!- I'm made like this. I'm stuck in the why stage of childhood!)
My poor husbandish... He has had to face so many obstacles and objections from me all these years. He is the first one to take and bare all my protests about stupid rules.
I respect meaningful rules; but I respect myself even more and cannot accept being made to follow the idiotic ones." Gülin De Vincentiis
You know what happened in the end? We got her the Italian passport. Carried it along too. But I only presented mine and my husband's passports to the immigration. My daughter's Turkish ID, being just a thin paper, was inside my passport. The officer just had a look at our passports and waved us go. He didn't notice the ID, he didn't notice our daughter in her trolley either. Their booths are just so high up! I am sure that it is done especially, so that they can overpower you. They are looking from above you. Most people do not notice this kind of stuff, but they are done on purpose. They are subtle ways to get you to feel low/inferior, to prime you to obedience.
Then of course they are ridiculed like this. I had a good laugh pointing out how we smuggled our baby!
I don't want to make light of a serious issue. Child kidnapping is definitely serious. There might be a reason why they introduced the obligation of photos. (I was first going to say “There probably is a reason”, but I couldn't bring myself to express it so strongly. Yes, even a probability of a reason is strong when it comes to many rules. Unfortunately, I believe most rules are introduced without much thought by some ordinary Joe who doesn't know what he is doing but who by happenstance is in some position. Introducing such novelties makes them look like they are doing something, and most people are content with the illusion of something.: just like “security” at airports. Semblance seems to work with the majority of people.)
Anyway... Coming to my point... I'm not even going to point out the big discrepancy of resemblance between a newborn and a three year-old. That's the duration of validity of a baby passport. Three years. After 3 years of age, it prolongs to 5 years. Do you have any idea of how tremendous a change a child goes through in its initial stages? Even a 16 months-old is much different than its 6 months-old self. There is quite a big difference between a 3 year-old and a 6 year-old let alone an 8-year old. As long as the general facial features match, like the hair and eye color, it's so easy to mix them up. In fact, it's amazing that one may not even recognize her own baby!
Don't believe me?? I wouldn't blame you if you didn't, but I'm telling you this because I know! One night, we were going through some old photos. I said “Ah Alya!” Alya is the daughter of my brother. My husband corrected me, “No, that's Lara.” Mind you, they are very different children, nobody would mix them up if they stood next to each other. Again mind you, I'm not a working mother who left her child to nannies and spent so much time outside; no, I'm a mother who nursed for more than three years, I was 24/24 with my daughter for four years. And I still confused my daughter with someone else's child. True, I am not a visual person; but we're talking about my own daughter here! I had not seen that photo before, I couldn't associate the child in the photo with my daughter.
Okay, perhaps if one looks closely, with the intention of identifying, one might spot differences and be able to tell. But really, how many times did that happen to you? How many times did an official look closely into your face to make sure you were the right person?
The reason why more bad things don't happen in this world is not because of so much fake "security" but because most people are decent folks. You don't prevent child smuggling by obliging photos of infants but by intelligence measures.
In the end, someone came back saying “Perhaps you should focus on real problems.”
I thought about it. It sounds so true after all. What I am after is so trivial. BUT... It actually is not. There is something much more important behind all this. I believe idiotic rules are a very real and big problem and deserve more attention because they're a menace in disguise. You cannot correct something you are not aware of.
I seriously believe we are being dumbed-down by such rules. The 100 ml liquid rule is for one. Serves nothing but to hassle millions of ordinary innocent people, that is such a big waste of time and resources. Please read We The Sheeple and tell me you'd support me when I start a campaign to stop this idiocy! The security-theater you can watch in play 24 hours in all airports around the world.
I'm the Idiotic Rules Police :)) Unfortunately, nobody pays for it, I do it for free. That's fine but I wish people would at least appreciate it. It is a very vital task after all.
* Special thanks to Daniel Chambers, Heimo Liendl, Michael Lumsdon, Fabrizio Soggetto, Scott Shelley and Cheyenne Murray for their contribution to the conversation; and Solomon Watkins who said he will be trying it out ;)