Guess Who Has The Most Intimidating Border Control Officials?

Border Control
Flickr, US Army

Do you ever feel nervous going through border control in a new country? How about when you return home? A study by IXP visas polled 1,000 travelers who had been to at least ten foreign countries; over 60% said they felt intimidated by border officials at some time, with the most intimidating vote going to American border control. The reasons sited for the nerves included “obvious weaponry on display,” a “lack of humor,” and a general “intimidating demeanor.”

The countries with the most intimidating border officials:

  1. USA: 22% (of respondents called border control officers intimidating)
  2. UAE: 12%
  3. Mexico: 9%
  4. Canada: 8%
  5. South Korea: 6%
  6. UK: 5%
  7. Israel: 5%
  8. Pakistan: 4%
  9. Venezuela: 4%
  10. Cuba: 3%

Have you felt intimidated entering (or re-entering) the U.S.? Which country has you most nervous at immigration?

Apply Online For A Turkish Visa

Istanbul Bosphorus-Turkish visa
Meg Nesterov

If you’ve visited Istanbul or any of the country of Turkey in the past, you had to stand in line to buy a tourist visa sticker (in cash only, payable in USD or Euro) before getting in a longer line to get through border control and out of the airport. If you forgot to buy the Turkish visa first, you’d have to get out of line and hope that a nice person would let you cut back in once you got the sticker. Now, you can apply online and sail right through to the Immigration line, eliminating one step.

The new e-Visa program is available to citizens of most countries, including the United States, Canada, and European Union. Like the sticker system, it costs $20 and your visa is valid for multiple entries for 90 days (the visa is valid for 180 days but you can only stay up to 90 without applying for residency). You can apply up to 24 hours before departure, though they advise one week. If you forget to apply online, don’t worry, the old visa desk will still be available at the airport.

Apply for your Turkish visa at www.evisa.gov.tr

The Canadian Border: Homeland Security tightens ID regulations

In 2001 I was turning 18, and for the big birthday weekend I had a fun escapade in Vancouver, Canada planned out. My birthday is at the end of September, and unfortunately that year, the tragic events of September 11th foiled my plans for making a break for the border. Lines were extremely long (hours and hours of waiting to be exact) and people that had been crossing back and forth between the Washington and Canadian border for years were all of a sudden held up for questioning. Needless to say, I stayed home to celebrate.

A little over six years later, you would think that the situation at the U.S. Canadian border had gotten better. It hasn’t. The Department of Homeland Security, who is always increasing their methods of border patrol, recently pushed Congress to tighten identification requirements at US land border crossings (meaning Canada and Mexico). Starting January 31st, both Canadian and American citizens will need to make sure to have their passports with them or a driver’s license accompanied by an original birth certificate; licenses by themselves won’t cut it. Luckily for Canadians, procuring a passport just got easier.

72 million people crossed the U.S. Canadian border in 2007 meaning that stricter regulations will mean one thing: more backup. The decision comes in response to legislation approved by Congress last month that barred Homeland Security from requiring all citizens entering the United States to present a passport or similar secure proof of identification. But Homeland Security pushed through. As Secretary Michael Chertoff said, “It’s time to grow up and recognize that if we’re serious about this threat, we’ve got to take reasonable, measured, but nevertheless determined steps to getting better security.”

Homeland Security’s decision states that all traveler’s 19 and over will be required to present a passport or border pass card. Otherwise, make sure you are carrying both your driver’s license AND an original birth certificate. And most importantly, plan on long lines.

Nine more countries enter Europe’s border-free zone

It was with mixed emotions that I came across the recent news that nine more countries are being allowed into the European Union’s border-free Schengen zone.

The Schengen zone is an area within the EU where passports are no longer required to travel between countries. Once a visitor has passed through the first layer of security entering the Schengen, he or she is free to travel onwards without having to pull out their passport until they leave–it’s sort of like traveling between states within the USA.

On December 21, the Schengen will expand to include Malta, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia. Most of these countries were once locked behind the Iron Curtain and protected by some of the most heavily guarded borders in the world. Before the end of the year, their citizens–and all international tourists–will be able to travel overland from places like Prague to Madrid without passing through passport controls a single time.

So why do I have mixed emotions about this?

No more passport stamps to collect, obviously.