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Have two blank pages but not consecutive!

San Francisco...
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Have two blank pages but not consecutive!

Hi there -- I'm traveling to South Africa tomorrow (from the US, but I have a British passport.) I'm exempt from needing a visa (because of the British passport), but I've only just realized that I need to have TWO blank pages in my passport anyway. I called the South African Embassy to confirm, and said "I know I need to have one blank page---" and the guy cut me off and said "two pages! You need two pages!"

Here's the issue: my pages aren't consecutive (which the guy at the South African embassy did at least say was okay) but one of the pages has a pretty heavy duty stamp on the page behind it, and the ink shows through. So while page 9 is "technically" blank -- ie: nothing has been stamped on it -- you can pretty clearly see the stamp on page 10 behind it (Barbados must have very strong ink!)

Is this going to be a problem? Technically, it feels like I'm okay, but in practice, I'm scared that it could be an issue if someone wanted to make it one. My other blank page is way in the back of my passport, adjacent to the page with my picture on it. It doesn't have any writing on it that makes it exempt, though (ie: it's still a normal passport page.)

British passports can't have pages added to them, so that's not an option, even if wanted it to be (and I'd do it for peace of mind.) I don't think the consulate here would consider this an "emergency" and give me an emergency travel document, so there's nothing I can do but hope it's okay. Am I panicking for nothing?

Edited: 17 November 2011, 19:34
Stanley, Falkland...
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1. Re: Have two blank pages but not consecutive!

Well, you soon find out! Please let us know how you get on.

By rights, the airline should prevent you travelling if you don't have the correct paperwork, as they carry the penalty if you are refused entry.

Tempe, Arizona
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for South Africa, Sabi Sand Game Reserve
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2. Re: Have two blank pages but not consecutive!

And sooner or later, South Africa needs to explain why they demand two blank pages.

Cape Town
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3. Re: Have two blank pages but not consecutive!

South Africa DON'T demand two blank pages if you don't need a visa. They only require one.

The only statement from the SA Department of Home Affairs that relates to TWO pages is as follows :

"Foreigners who wish to visit South Africa must have passports / travel documents valid for thirty (30) more days after the intended return date from South Africa. The passport must contain at least two (2) unused (blank) pages labeled Visa WHEN PRESENTED TO THE EMBASSY?CONSULATE; One page is for affixing the visa or permit at the Embassy/Consulate and the other page is for endorsement of entry/departure stamp by the South African Immigration Services."

UK, US, Australian and dozens of other passport holders do NOT require Visas. The CAPITALS above are mine. You ONLY need TWO pages if you have to present your passport to an Embassay or Consulate prior to travelling in order to get a Visa pre-stamped into the passport. The huge majority of toursits coming to South Africa are from Visa exempt countries and DON't need to do this!!!

Other than that the regulations are clear :

"For nationals of countries whose citizens are visa exempt:

Passports must have:

at least one (1) unused (blank) visa page WHEN PRESENTED TO THE SOUTH AFRICAN IMMGRATION SERVICES UPON ARRIVAL IN SOUTH AFRICA."

Again my CAPS.

Edited: 18 November 2011, 17:39
Washington DC...
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4. Re: Have two blank pages but not consecutive!

A woman's husband on my flight was denied boarding because he had only one blank page in his passport. So she travelled alone, while he stayed home.

I showed her the two stamps I was given upon entry, which filled only half a page.

Cape Town
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5. Re: Have two blank pages but not consecutive!

Which Airline was this on?

Here is the link to the travel information from the South African Airways Website - taken from today's US Regional Site :

"All non-South African passport holders are required to have at least one entirely blank (unstamped) visa page (i.e. one side of such a page not front and back thereof) in their passport, each time entry is sought into South Africa. These pages are in addition to the endorsement/amendment pages at the back of the passport. South African government regulations prohibit airlines from boarding passengers without the required blank visa page."

This is absolutely clear ONE page - flysaa.com/us/…visa_and_passport_info.html

There is NO South African Law which dictates that two pages are needed. If he was denied boarding by ANY Airline, then this is an Arbitrary Refusal of pre-contracted service, with no legal basis. He must now have a very strong legal case against the airline for all out-of-pocket expenses, plus significant damages and all legal costs.

Unless anyone can come up with the South African Law, or Department of Home Affairs Official Regulation, which states that two blank pages are required for Visa Exempt tourists entering South Africa for stays of less than 90 days.

Edited: 18 November 2011, 21:57
Kathmandu, Nepal
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6. Re: Have two blank pages but not consecutive!

Van de Caab, one page may be the official policy, but the U.S. Department of State reports that there have been cases of people denied entry because the SA immigration official wanted two pages. As a result, U.S. State advises those holding U.S. passports to ensure they have two blank pages: …state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1008.html

The FCO in the UK proffers the same advice, noting that British travelers have been denied entry when they lacked two pages: fco.gov.uk/en/…south-africa

Cape Town
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7. Re: Have two blank pages but not consecutive!

Just to add the requirements from the other airline that flies direct from the US. Here is the Passport Information link from the Delta Website :

"South Africa (ZA)

Warning:

- Passports and passport replacing documents of all non-South

African nationals must contain at least 1 unused visa page

for entry/departure endorsements by South African

Immigration Service. Please note that this does not include

the page reserved for Observations or Amendments and

Endorsements".

http://tinyurl.com/Delta-ZA-Passport

Are you sure that there wasn't any other thing wrong with the gentleman's passport which dictated Denied Boarding?

If not then the Boarding Agent was just plain wrong and was acting illegally - and the airline should be sued.

Cape Town
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8. Re: Have two blank pages but not consecutive!

EWL

All the US advice says is - "In practice, however, travelers may need more than one page as there have been instances in the past of South African immigration officers requiring travelers to have two (2) blank pages."

There are many circumstances where any traveller might require further blank pages. If they intend to extend their stay beyond 90 days and apply for an extension (or even had a ticket with an open date beyond 90days in South Africa). If they wished to convert the Visitors Temporary Resident permit to a permit with a different category, if they had a complex itinerary which involved travelling through different countries which required full page Visa stamps and then were returning to South Africa.

The State Department just makes a statement with no background at all.

However the Sate Department also clearly says that South African Law requires ONE page. An airline therefore has no right to Deny Boarding - unless there are additional circumstances. Particularly when both the airlines flying direct to South Africa from the USA state clearly in their conditions that only ONE page is required. Under what validity do they then require two pages??

In realaity since the begining of this year the new stamps are anyway much smaller and take up a fraction of a page. Here is information on what actually happens - tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowTopic-g293740-i9186-k4…

Kathmandu, Nepal
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9. Re: Have two blank pages but not consecutive!

Hang on...lost half my post. Rewriting.

Edited: 19 November 2011, 00:18
Kathmandu, Nepal
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10. Re: Have two blank pages but not consecutive!

Hi, Van de Caab,

There are two separate issues here.

The first is whether SA immigration officials ever demand two passport pages from US and UK travelers who aren’t subject to visa requirements, in direct contradiction of SA’s stated policy.

Both the US State Department and the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office specifically say that there have been such cases, and both note that this is IN SPITE OF the official SA policy. You’re right that the US State page could be more clearly worded, but you skipped over the FCO page I mentioned. This is its opening paragraph regarding entry requirements:

“You must hold a valid passport to enter South Africa. Your passport must be valid for a minimum period of 30 days from the date of exit from South Africa. South African authorities state officially that only one blank passport page is required for entry. However, visitors have been refused entry and sent back to the UK as some officials are insisting on two blank pages. We advise that you have two blank pages in your passport on arrival.”

Because both US State and the UK FCO separately and specifically address the other scenarios you mention (extension past 90 days, etc.), I think it’s a bit of a stretch to think that these other circumstances are what’s meant by both countries’ official warning that SA immigration may want two pages.

In addition, travelers here and at many other travel sites/board/blogs have shared stories of having been surprised by a demand for two pages once arriving in SA. Others discuss the conflicting information they received from SA authorities when they inquired ahead of time. It seems clear, then, that an American or British traveler leaving for SA with only one blank passport page is taking a risk of not being admitted.

Whether an airline is liable for refusing boarding to someone with only one page is, of course, something else. The South African Airways page you briefly excerpted goes on to say that travelers should consult their embassies or consulates re all passport requirements, and that adhering to those requirements is the responsibility of the traveler.

However, it certainly seems that United/SAA (who codeshare flights from the US to Joburg) and Delta should be warning people up front that two pages may be necessary. You may be right that their failure to do so opens them up to legal liability -- but that's a whole different question than whether US/UK travelers will need two passport pages when they arrive in SA...and one that's likely to be of little comfort to those missing a hoped-for trip.

Edited: 19 November 2011, 00:33