Travelling with Fifteen Passports

No, I’m not a spy, but when our family goes travelling, we tote a large stack of passports with us. I’m always nervous that something will get lost in the melee. I suppose having to keep on top of your passport and visa situation is a very common expat phenomenon, but all I can say, if you become an expat, try not to have any dual nationalities.

At the very minimum, our selection looks like this:

Three German passports and three American ones, whichever has the respective South African visa. However, some of those passports expired on us since we’ve lived here, so we need the new ones to travel as well as the old ones to re-enter South Africa. Technically you could go to Home Affairs and transfer your visa to your new passport, but honestly? Who wants to go deal with them unless it’s absolutely necessary?

When we travel to the U.S., we all have to bring our American passports, in addition to the three German passports with the South African visas, and most often we just go ahead and take all of them so that the visa and entry stamps can be better distributed. Noisette has been known to run out of pages before so you have to be strategic about where you allocate space when you enter a new country.

Our passport haul when everybody brings every
passport is 16 (Noisette’s three ┬ánot pictured here)

But the grand prize of travel documents will be in our backpacks for our upcoming trip to Zanzibar, which requires Yellow Fever immunizations and according documentation:

The good news is I have a big backpack! I’ll keep you posted on how long it will take to get through immigration with all of this. I’m already looking forward to the cramped and sweat-stenched arrival hall, shepherding all our bags and kids (and passports) past bored-looking officials collecting exorbitant visa fees in US-dollars. Or maybe Tanzania is not at all like Zimbabwe and Mozambique and everything will be a breeze.

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