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Have you been mistaken for a diplomat when using US Passport Card in foreign country?

Have you been mistaken for a diplomat when using US Passport Card in foreign country?

Old May 17, 10, 10:44 pm
  #1  
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Have you been mistaken for a diplomat when using US Passport Card in foreign country?

In the last couple of years, I've used my U.S. Passport Card as my ID when I'm overseas.
My Passport Book stays in the safe(in-room or at front desk) so it doesn't get lost.

I've often been asked by hotel staff, airline check-in clerk, and local police a very strange
question: "sir, are you with the American Embassy?" My reply has always been "NO, I most
certainly am not"
and that usually stop their questions. I think the problem is that our
genius U.S. State Deparment graphics designers had chosen to put the following words at
the bottom of the Passport Card: "United States Department of State"

This happens to me often in Singapore and other S.E. Asian countries, where it's sometimes
not a good idea to be identified as an American, let alone being mistaken for a diplomat.

Not so much a problem in E.U. countries. Hotel clerks in most E.U. countries don't seem to
have a problem when I check in using my Passport Card. Nor do they ever think that the
card implies that I'm even associated with the State Dept. Probabaly because they see tons
of American guests all the time.

Why can't the State Dept put those words on the back, or in a different wording, such as
"Issued by the US State Department" or "Passport Agency".... etc..... You really gotta hand
it to those government employees sometimes.... I just hope the next edition of the
Passport Card will be changed to avoid this confusion.

Last edited by caviarwire; May 17, 10 at 11:05 pm
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Old May 18, 10, 3:26 am
  #2  
 
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Originally Posted by caviarwire View Post
In the last couple of years, I've used my U.S. Passport Card as my ID when I'm overseas.
My Passport Book stays in the safe(in-room or at front desk) so it doesn't get lost.

I've often been asked by hotel staff, airline check-in clerk, and local police a very strange
question: "sir, are you with the American Embassy?" My reply has always been "NO, I most
certainly am not"
and that usually stop their questions. I think the problem is that our
genius U.S. State Deparment graphics designers had chosen to put the following words at
the bottom of the Passport Card: "United States Department of State"

This happens to me often in Singapore and other S.E. Asian countries, where it's sometimes
not a good idea to be identified as an American, let alone being mistaken for a diplomat.

Not so much a problem in E.U. countries. Hotel clerks in most E.U. countries don't seem to
have a problem when I check in using my Passport Card. Nor do they ever think that the
card implies that I'm even associated with the State Dept. Probabaly because they see tons
of American guests all the time.

Why can't the State Dept put those words on the back, or in a different wording, such as
"Issued by the US State Department" or "Passport Agency".... etc..... You really gotta hand
it to those government employees sometimes.... I just hope the next edition of the
Passport Card will be changed to avoid this confusion.
No, I've not had any of those experiances with the PPCard yet.
I've had my Official US Passport (brown) confused for a Diplomatic (black) one a couple of times, which was nice as it let me skip a big line both times.

I'd suspect if others tried using the PPcard often outside the States they would have similar stories. heck, I have also passed through Saudi Arabian military check points with a bank of America photo visa debit card and a Costco card YMMV

Ciao,
FH
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Old May 18, 10, 5:04 am
  #3  
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Originally Posted by FlyingHoustonian View Post
No, I've not had any of those experiances with the PPCard yet.
I've had my Official US Passport (brown) confused for a Diplomatic (black) one a couple of times, which was nice as it let me skip a big line both times.

I'd suspect if others tried using the PPcard often outside the States they would have similar stories. heck, I have also passed through Saudi Arabian military check points with a bank of America photo visa debit card and a Costco card YMMV

Ciao,
FH
It's hard enough to get the Denver TSA screeners to "accept" a brown passport.
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Old May 18, 10, 5:47 am
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Related story:

I am a US citizen who works for a foreign govt. in Europe. Whenever I travel back to the US, the immigration officer always remarks that I do not live in the US.

He then asks me what I do abroad and I always say, "Oh, I work for the government."

I never mention which government and the immigration officer always assumes that I work for the US government.

The little victories...
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Old May 18, 10, 6:15 am
  #5  
Ari
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Originally Posted by caviarwire View Post
This happens to me often in Singapore and other S.E. Asian countries, where it's sometimes
not a good idea to be identified as an American, let alone being mistaken for a diplomat.
If it is such a problem, did you ever think just to use your passport to avoid confusion? For what reason would you use your passport card if this is a concern of yours? You obviously have your passport with you in SE Asia . . .

Is novelty the reason?
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Old May 18, 10, 10:28 am
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Originally Posted by FlyingHoustonian View Post
I'd suspect if others tried using the PPcard often outside the States they would have similar stories. heck, I have also passed through Saudi Arabian military check points with a bank of America photo visa debit card and a Costco card YMMV
Wow! TSA has something in common with the Saudi Arabian military! I never knew that Costco was so widely accepted globally.

Costco card.... International.... So worldly, so welcome.... (A few of you will probably remember that old MasterCard jingle...)
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Old May 18, 10, 1:00 pm
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Originally Posted by clrankin View Post
Wow! TSA has something in common with the Saudi Arabian military! I never knew that Costco was so widely accepted globally.

Costco card.... International.... So worldly, so welcome.... (A few of you will probably remember that old MasterCard jingle...)
I've driven the Kings Highway, and long lonely stretches of road south of Al Kharj and many times the Saudi Miltiary cops will be asleep in their little kia patrol cars.
I'd heard stories of guys using AMEX cards back in the 80s, as they were then similar to geneva convention ID card layouts.

Ciao,
FH
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Old May 18, 10, 1:05 pm
  #8  
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Old May 18, 10, 1:25 pm
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Originally Posted by caviarwire View Post
In the last couple of years, I've used my U.S. Passport Card as my ID when I'm overseas.
My Passport Book stays in the safe(in-room or at front desk) so it doesn't get lost.

I've often been asked by hotel staff, airline check-in clerk, and local police a very strange
question: "sir, are you with the American Embassy?" My reply has always been "NO, I most
certainly am not"
and that usually stop their questions. I think the problem is that our
genius U.S. State Deparment graphics designers had chosen to put the following words at
the bottom of the Passport Card: "United States Department of State"

This happens to me often in Singapore and other S.E. Asian countries, where it's sometimes
not a good idea to be identified as an American, let alone being mistaken for a diplomat.

Not so much a problem in E.U. countries. Hotel clerks in most E.U. countries don't seem to
have a problem when I check in using my Passport Card. Nor do they ever think that the
card implies that I'm even associated with the State Dept. Probabaly because they see tons
of American guests all the time.

Why can't the State Dept put those words on the back, or in a different wording, such as
"Issued by the US State Department" or "Passport Agency".... etc..... You really gotta hand
it to those government employees sometimes.... I just hope the next edition of the
Passport Card will be changed to avoid this confusion.
I would guess if it is that big a concern you could also stick to using the US Passport Card for it's intended purpose

http://travel.state.gov/passport/ppt...card_3926.html

PURPOSE

The U.S. Passport Card can be used to enter the United States from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda at land border crossings or sea ports-of-entry and is more convenient and less expensive than a passport book. The passport card cannot be used for international travel by air.

FB
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Old May 18, 10, 5:40 pm
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Originally Posted by Firebug4 View Post
I would guess if it is that big a concern you could also stick to using the US Passport Card for it's intended purpose
Some people feel uncomfortable carrying their passport books around while in a foreign country because of the fear of loosing them. After all, it is the only document that would allow one to board the plane and enter the USA.

Given the fact that many countries around the world have national ID cards and may accept some foreign ID cards, I understand why someone may choose to use the passport card for identification purposes. After all, the US passport card looks like another national ID card, especially in foreign countries. I was able to use it to do money transfers in Germany, check into hotels in Germany, France and Italy, and use it as an ID in any other situations not involving official immigration control. On the other hand, I did not have much luck abroad with my state-issued driving licence.

This brings me to my question - why limit the official purposes of the passport card to just crossing the land and sea border between the neighbouring countries? Why not include the laser-engraved signature and announce that in addition to crossing borders, it can be officially used as a primary form of ID in all official transactions? I bet that many governments and businesses abroad would be more likely to accept it as the ID and stop requiring the passport book for some silly reasons such as buying a pre-paid SIM card. This card is purely voluntary, so right-wing nuts should not complain too much about the scary national ID card because nobody forces them to get one.
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Old May 18, 10, 6:00 pm
  #11  
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My Passport Card + UN/WHO ID have gotten me straight to the front of the security line @ PAP
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Old May 18, 10, 6:06 pm
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I never knew the cards could be used outside the US
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Old May 18, 10, 6:15 pm
  #13  
Ari
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Originally Posted by Ari View Post
If it is such a problem, did you ever think just to use your passport to avoid confusion? For what reason would you use your passport card if this is a concern of yours? You obviously have your passport with you in SE Asia . . .
Originally Posted by Firebug4 View Post
I would guess if it is that big a concern you could also stick to using the US Passport Card for it's intended purpose

http://travel.state.gov/passport/ppt...card_3926.html

PURPOSE

The U.S. Passport Card can be used to enter the United States from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda at land border crossings or sea ports-of-entry and is more convenient and less expensive than a passport book. The passport card cannot be used for international travel by air.

FB
Beat you to it.

Originally Posted by König View Post
Some people feel uncomfortable carrying their passport books around while in a foreign country because of the fear of loosing them.
1) Several countries require that you have it with you (I always carry mine)
2) Checking into a hotel, one usually has his passport!
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Old May 18, 10, 6:52 pm
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Originally Posted by caviarwire View Post
In the last couple of years, I've used my U.S. Passport Card as my ID when I'm overseas. My Passport Book stays in the safe(in-room or at front desk) so it doesn't get lost.

I've often been asked by hotel staff, airline check-in clerk, and local police a very strange question: "sir, are you with the American Embassy?" My reply has always been "NO, I most certainly am not" and that usually stop their questions. I think the problem is that our genius U.S. State Deparment graphics designers had chosen to put the following words at the bottom of the Passport Card: "United States Department of State"

This happens to me often in Singapore and other S.E. Asian countries, where it's sometimes not a good idea to be identified as an American, let alone being mistaken for a diplomat.
I spend plenty of time in SE Asia. I cannot ever recall any encountering any overt anti American sentiments on a personal face to face level, save for a few European or American expat's with political beefs. Singapore is of course especially friendly towards Americans. Probably even more so towards American diplomats but at least to me anyway. Even in Moslem Indonesia, the man the street generally reacts positively when I say I am American. So if someone mistakes me for an American diplomat, so long as they are not working for Jemaah Islamiya or something similar, I'm not going to be the one to correct them

I too do not like to carry my passport book on me in person because it's loss would be a major problem and thus it is a "high value" possession best locked up someplace safe when I am out and about. In Indonesia especially this is a big problem because Police often check documents. Police will usually accept a Xerox of your passport and a state issued Drivers License but may hassle you a little about it. My experience with the Passport Card has been much more positive.
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Old May 18, 10, 8:45 pm
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Originally Posted by Firebug4 View Post
I would guess if it is that big a concern you could also stick to using the US Passport Card for it's intended purpose

http://travel.state.gov/passport/ppt...card_3926.html

PURPOSE

The U.S. Passport Card can be used to enter the United States from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda at land border crossings or sea ports-of-entry and is more convenient and less expensive than a passport book. The passport card cannot be used for international travel by air.

FB
The Passport Card is a valid for of ID, even when not crossing a land border. Not everyone has a drivers license and state issued ID cards are frequently viewed as suspicious. If or when whatever version of REAL ID comes into effect, people with Passport Cards will be ahead of the curve. I will have to try it out at my bank sometime.

When I am staying with friends or relatives in far away lands, I don't carry my passport on me. On occasion, I have even left it in a hotel. A US state issued driver's license will may be accepted in the rare instance of being asked but every time I have been asked if I have my passport. A federal issued ID card is accepted without question. Driver's license does not equal ID card in many countries. YMMV
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