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Visiting an Embassy / What are Embassies For?

Visiting an Embassy / What are Embassies For?

Old Jun 1, 15, 11:52 am
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Visiting an Embassy / What are Embassies For?

I'm not sure the exact title I want for this thread. I mean, I think I know what embassies do (issue visas, provide assistance to citizens of the country, etc.) but maybe I'm not so sure.

Here's my story...
As an American citizen/passport holder, I've oftentimes noticed that my passport tells me to register with the embassy either in person or online - something I've never actually done. I've also heard stories that US embassies are supposedly treated like US soil even though they're in a foreign country.

My passport is quickly filling up and I'm presently in Asuncion, Paraguay so I decided I'd head over to the embassy and see if I could add pages since the window to do that is closing and my passport has about 9 years of validity left (it is just barely old enough to be allowed to add pages to it).

When I got to the embassy today I looked around and read the signs about opening hours, etc. (all of which were in Spanish without English translations) and was quickly approached by a Paraguayan police officer. They asked me what I was doing and I attempted to explain (in Spanish) that I was a US Citizen and wanted to add pages to my passport. I was told that I would need to make an appointment and was not permitted inside.

I didn't actually need to have this done today, but I thought it was a bit strange that I wasn't even permitted to go inside the embassy and was denied entry by Paraguayan officials - not US officials.

Can you not just walk into an embassy? I've previously visited a Paraguayan and Brazilian consulate (both in Los Angeles) and they let me walk right in no questions asked.
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Old Jun 1, 15, 11:57 am
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US embassies are usually well guarded. Each embassy makes up their own rules of access. If you have an emergency you should be able to get ahold of someone in the embassy (either in person or by phone). However, embassies aren't airports and aren't open 24/7 for you to mingle around in. So save for an emergency, they do have business hours. Some do things only by appointment, while others may have walk-in hours. Check the specific embassy's website as to their policy.
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Old Jun 1, 15, 12:00 pm
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Originally Posted by catbox9
I'm not sure the exact title I want for this thread. I mean, I think I know what embassies do (issue visas, provide assistance to citizens of the country, etc.) but maybe I'm not so sure.

Here's my story...
As an American citizen/passport holder, I've oftentimes noticed that my passport tells me to register with the embassy either in person or online - something I've never actually done. I've also heard stories that US embassies are supposedly treated like US soil even though they're in a foreign country.

My passport is quickly filling up and I'm presently in Asuncion, Paraguay so I decided I'd head over to the embassy and see if I could add pages since the window to do that is closing and my passport has about 9 years of validity left (it is just barely old enough to be allowed to add pages to it).

When I got to the embassy today I looked around and read the signs about opening hours, etc. (all of which were in Spanish without English translations) and was quickly approached by a Paraguayan police officer. They asked me what I was doing and I attempted to explain (in Spanish) that I was a US Citizen and wanted to add pages to my passport. I was told that I would need to make an appointment and was not permitted inside.

I didn't actually need to have this done today, but I thought it was a bit strange that I wasn't even permitted to go inside the embassy and was denied entry by Paraguayan officials - not US officials.

Can you not just walk into an embassy? I've previously visited a Paraguayan and Brazilian consulate (both in Los Angeles) and they let me walk right in no questions asked.
http://paraguay.usembassy.gov/mobile...formation.html

Note the "Very Important Notice" near the bottom of the linked page.
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Old Jun 1, 15, 12:21 pm
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Originally Posted by guv1976 View Post
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http://paraguay.usembassy.gov/mobile...formation.html

Note the "Very Important Notice" near the bottom of the linked page.
When you click through to "make an appoinement" adding visa pages is one of the options, and there are appointments scattered throughout June.

I didn't find it here, but other embassy sites have strongly recommended that you complete this form first:

http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/212247.pdf

They also take limited forms of payment, come prepared.
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Old Jun 1, 15, 12:36 pm
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Originally Posted by catbox9 View Post
I didn't actually need to have this done today, but I thought it was a bit strange that I wasn't even permitted to go inside the embassy and was denied entry by Paraguayan officials - not US officials.

Can you not just walk into an embassy? I've previously visited a Paraguayan and Brazilian consulate (both in Los Angeles) and they let me walk right in no questions asked.
The Embassies have become fortresses and doesn't matter if you are a citizen, have to follow the rules or no entry.
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Old Jun 1, 15, 12:37 pm
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Thanks for the info. I'm leaving before I can get an appointment so I guess I'll just mail it off or try to do it in LA or SF.

I wonder if they'll give me a bad time about requesting 48 more pages instead of 24? My passport is only half-filled but it is one of the 52 page ones and it was just issued in July.
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Old Jun 1, 15, 2:21 pm
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At the risk of sounding patronizing, I would strongly recommend the OP brushes up on his/her traveling savvy if that much traveling is on the agenda.
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Old Jun 1, 15, 2:30 pm
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I am happy to have this opportunity to share what I know about American Embassies as I was very disappointed in what I learned.
I had always thought that the embassies, as part of their work, helped American Citizens who were in trouble. Here are two stories where they totally failed.
My dearest friend was on a cruise when her husband died suddenly in Hong Kong. Of course they left the ship and were at a hotel. No matter what they did the American Embassy did nothing. Finally they found a local Rabbi who was able to accomplish what had to be done.
Story 2: Two women who were traveling from Rome to Citaviccia to board a cruiseship had their passports, money and credit cars stolen at the train station. Desperate they went to the American Embassy. They told me the embassy told them to get money or they could not help them. The only thing they did was allow them to make a phone call to one woman's husband to request an immediate money transfer and did very little after that to assist them in being able to get to the ship.
It just makes me wonder why we spend as much as we do supporting these huge staffs and real estate.
I do undersatnd diplomacy and all that , but still.
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Old Jun 1, 15, 2:48 pm
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Visiting an Embassy / What are Embassies For?

I was in U.S. Embassy in Poland. I had to get some forms. Didn't make any appointments just walked in. At the entrance I showed them my US passport and was treated like royalty. By passed all the lines for metal detectors and lines to talk to the consular officer.
That's exactly what I would expect visiting my embassy overseas.
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Old Jun 1, 15, 3:09 pm
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I think an embassy or consulate come in use when there is an "acts of god" or war. In that case, it is my understanding, they will evacuate you.
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Old Jun 1, 15, 3:24 pm
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In the initial question, the OP should distinguish between an embassy and a consulate or the consular section of an embassy. The difference very roughly is that the embassy is responsible for foreign policy, including economic (trade) and certain cultural programs, while the consulate performs services for USA citizens (not only passports but also tax help, documents for adopted children and marriages performed abroad, limited help for people arrested overeseas, etc.) and also for foreigners wishing to enter the USA (primarily visas). It's somewhat a distinction between big picture furthering of USA interests versus services for individuals.

In some foreign capitols, the consular section is located away from the embassy itself, so be sure to find the correct address and hours. In principle, there should be a 24/7 emergency contact phone number for USA citizens. If you can register your presence in the country on line, why bother visiting the consulate in person? IMO this is primarily for those going to risky areas and for long term residents abroad, not for short term tourists and business travelers under ordinary circumstances, but it can't hurt except for the time required.
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Old Jun 1, 15, 3:58 pm
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Originally Posted by lhrsfo View Post
At the risk of sounding patronizing, I would strongly recommend the OP brushes up on his/her traveling savvy if that much traveling is on the agenda.

I'm not sure what exactly you mean by this. I do travel reasonably often, but as this thread has demonstrated there isn't a great need for anyone to visit an embassy while overseas; and a result, I don't know much about doing it. I took a short detour over to Asuncion as part of a trip to Iguazu falls as I had never been to Paraguay and because it isn't a typical "must-see" travel destination (no offense to anyone from Paraguay) now seemed as good a time as any to go since I was so close.

As I don't like to mail my passport anywhere when possible and I have read stories on FT about people adding pages at embassies, I thought I'd give the one here a try. I assumed (incorrectly) that because Paraguay is not a destination frequently-visited by Americans, there would not be a lot of Americans trying to utilize the embassy services on a given day, so I would be able to just show up during their regular business hours. It turns out that this is not the case. Like I said before, it's not big deal - I have plenty of time to add pages and there's still plenty of room so it's not an urgent issue.

I think I'm reasonably travel savvy, inability to properly utilize US Embassies notwithstanding. Realistically though, how often does anyone actually visit an embassy since there's very little reason to do so.
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Old Jun 1, 15, 4:15 pm
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Originally Posted by MSPeconomist View Post
In the initial question, the OP should distinguish between an embassy and a consulate or the consular section of an embassy. The difference very roughly is that the embassy is responsible for foreign policy, including economic (trade) and certain cultural programs, while the consulate performs services for USA citizens (not only passports but also tax help, documents for adopted children and marriages performed abroad, limited help for people arrested overeseas, etc.) and also for foreigners wishing to enter the USA (primarily visas). It's somewhat a distinction between big picture furthering of USA interests versus services for individuals.

In some foreign capitols, the consular section is located away from the embassy itself, so be sure to find the correct address and hours. In principle, there should be a 24/7 emergency contact phone number for USA citizens. If you can register your presence in the country on line, why bother visiting the consulate in person? IMO this is primarily for those going to risky areas and for long term residents abroad, not for short term tourists and business travelers under ordinary circumstances, but it can't hurt except for the time required.
Absolutely correct. In addition, there is only one embassy for a country, generally located at the capital, but there may be many consulates. E.g. the Embassy of Spain is in Washington, but there are about eight Consulate General offices of Spain located in cities such as Chicago, Houston, and Boston. The embassy handles foreign affair issues between the governments of Spain and the U.S.; the consulates handle issues for individual Spanish citizens.
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Old Jun 1, 15, 4:54 pm
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Overseas bureaucrats are still bureaucrats and if you've ever dealt with state or federal employees, you will find that they do not necessarily do their jobs with the customer's convenience or satisfaction as a main priority.
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Old Jun 1, 15, 4:59 pm
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Originally Posted by Ber2dca View Post
Overseas bureaucrats are still bureaucrats and if you've ever dealt with state or federal employees, you will find that they do not necessarily do their jobs with the customer's convenience or satisfaction as a main priority.
Dealt with? I am a state (California) government employee! That's how I'm able to fly 100,000+ miles/year for fun despite being in my 20s and just barely starting my career.
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