As an experienced traveler, I feel like I know what I’m doing when it comes to efficiently moving through all the security and immigrations requirements for travel. As you can see from my recent milage run, I’m a stickler for details so when I ran into a problem that almost derailed our Round the World trip, I was floored.
You see, both my wife and I were traveling with our daughter from Istanbul to Cape Town. We got through the check in just fine and spent a glorious 7 hours in the Turkish Airlines CIP Lounge. When we left the lounge to get to our gate, we were stopped by the gate agent and told that we could not board unless we had a birth certificate for our daughter.
Luckily, I scan all my important documents (I suggest you do the same) and keep them in a few places in the cloud. Unfortunately, I didn’t have internet access on my phone and there was no free wifi in the airport (poor showing IST). After some back and forth with the gate attendant and her supervisor, the allowed us to board the plane but I knew that we might be in a spot of trouble when we went to clear immigration in Cape Town.
Sure enough,the immigration agent in Cape Town gave us a very hard time for not having a birth certificate but he mentioned that this has been an ongoing problem for a lot of people because they just recently changed the rules (as of June 1, 2015). At the end of the day, he allowed us through but made us promise that we provide the birth certificate when we were exiting the country. We happily agreed to the conditions and went on our merry way.
Once I got to the hotel, I downloaded a copy of my daughter’s birth certificate and had the hotel print out 3 copies just in case.
Now I did read about the visa requirements for all the countries we visited but all the sites I looked at didn’t mention anything about a birth certificate so I didn’t dig any further. In my mind, the only thing we needed to worry about was whether or not we required a visa. I personally didn’t even think that it could be an issue for us to travel without a birth certificate as both my wife and I were traveling with our daughter. Single parents traveling with children (especially dads) often face a problem with immigration but I never thought it would be a problem with both of us traveling.
So how would I have done this differently? Well, there are two websites that I now check any time we travel outside of Canada for visa and immigration requirements.
The first is Emirates’ website. Emirates’ flies almost anywhere in the world and have created a portion of their website that deals specifically with the entry requirements of every country. The interface is easy and the information has been reliable.
Simply choose your nationality, the country you are visiting and the countries you are transiting from. The site will then spit out all the requirements for your visit (including whether or not you need to carry your daughter’s birth certificate).
You can access the Emirates Visa Site here or click on the picture above.
As a guy that always like to be prepared, I always cross check my information and what better site to use than the Government of Canada site? The site is also very easy to use and quite honestly a little prettier than the Emirates’ site but I tend to use the Emirates’ site first because I think that they may have more updated information because they fly to these destinations daily … perhaps I’m off base but that’s why I cross reference.
The site itself is simple enough to use and all you have to do is select the country you are visiting from the drop down menu (highlighted above). It is important to note here that this site assumes you are Canadian so if you are not, you are much better off using the Emirates’ site.
The resulting page provides detailed information about the country you are visiting and does a good job at providing detailed background information about the country. I find it fascinating to read about the Government of Canada’s view of different countries here because it also provides a good starting point for your research into a new destination.
The Government of Canada Travel Site can be access here or by clicking on either of the pictures above.
The moral of the story here is to do your research so you can avoid potentially sticky situations that could ruin your vacation.