Had a little drama getting to Guam today…

I don't know what it is about me and airports, but I also seem to manage to create some sort of drama. 

Two years ago, when flying from London to Barcelona, I managed to leave my wallet on the airport shuttle bus. This led to a series of events that finally resulted in me flying to spain with just my passport and all our money – and without my wife – on what was supposed to be a mini-honeymoon trip for us. Twinkle Tame, who I'd left at security with all our luggage and no money, was forced to miss the flight and catch a later one. Looking back now I can hardly believe I managed to get us into a situation like that, and I totally deserved the kick I got from Twinkle when she finally arrived at Barcelona.

Today though, Twinkle Tame had everything very well organised. Bus to the airport, flights and all, everything in good time. 

I'd made sure to bring along my new passport with its RFID chip – this was to be its first trip. It was only when we got to the immigration check that I realised that I had forgotten something …my visa and reentry permit, which were both in my old passport …at home.

I approached an immigration official and told him what I'd done.

He immediately asked me for my Alien Registration Card, which as a foreigner I'm obliged to carry at all times, and which he could use to check my status. I opened my wallet where I always kept it …and it wasn't there! I checked again, and nope, nothing. Why???!! 

Then I remembered – just yesterday I was sorting out a new Paypal account, and had had to submit a copy of my card, so I'd taken it out of my wallet to scan it, and had forgotten to put it back in. It was still in the scanner.

This was a big problem. No visa. No re-entry permit. No gaijin card. If I left, I wouldn't be able to get back in to Japan. 

I felt a bit sick – but then remembered Evernote, 

I've been using Evernote for a few years now, and have well over 5,000 notes in there now. I use it for all sorts of things, such as daily backups of all my tweets for later reference, searchable scans of all business cards, automatic downloads of photos that friends tag me in on Facebook (!), all sorts of shared notes for various projects, searchable PDF product manuals, and recording my audio diary.

…and copies of my passport & gaijin card. 

"No, no, we can't accept a copy" he said, gesturing for us to follow him to the immigration office.

As we walked I showed him the copy of my card in Evernote on my iPhone. He looked at it, looked again, and seemed to change his mind. 

"Well, let me take a note of the card number and see if I can find it in our system. There's not much time until your flight, but I might be able to transfer your permit if I can find your record".

And ten minutes later, he handed back my new passport, complete with a freshly printed copy of my permit. We were good to go! 

We ran down the corridor, making it on board just before the doors were closed. 

So, thank you to the guy in immigration for bending the rules and acting so fast to get us on this flight 🙂

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9 Responses

  1. Yuck, that sounds like a hairy mess waiting to happen, very glad it didn't! Hope y'all have a great time jumping out of perfectly good planes ;P

  2. I think you guys need a traveling checklist. Getting ready to head out the door, check the checklist. Got everything? Ok, NOW we go. lol. 😉 I’ve forgotten stuff before but have never traveled internationally. Have a fun trip!

  3. I've done things like that on several occasions, much to the annoyance of my family and friends. Glad it all worked out and I'm impressed that they sorted it out for you like that. I wouldn't have fancied your chances. Enjoy Guam. I went for the first time in October. Had an amazing time doing lots of snorkeling.

  4. amazing. i've heard about phone copies of passports being used in other countries but never would have imagined that a Japanese official would even look at something that wasn't on a piece of paper.

  5. Joseph's formidable interpersonal and persuasion skills are probably to be credited. Given his track record and that Twinkle Tame has only kicked him, and not murdered him, he must be very good. 😉

  6. Yeah, it's the first time I've met an immigration official here who's really risen to the challenge of sorting something out when up against the clock and when the person in question doesn't have hard copies of the required documents! Very lucky.

    Paul – yes, Satoko would recommend against travelling with me!

  7. I also keep copies of my really important documents in Evernote for just the same reason. However I didn't think it would ever work at the airport! You really hit the jackpot on that 1. I recently got the new resident card meaning this might not work for me at all since the card actually contains my visa information and its RFID chip and there are no longer any reentry permit at all.. There is nothing in that passport page anymore; the card means everything so please don't forget it when you travel whenever you switch to the new system.