Can You Travel Without A Passport?

Fugitive Edward Snowden is hoping to get to Ecuador, despite not having a valid passport. So when can you legally travel without one?

The US state department has revoked Snowden’s passport and asked other countries to prevent him from travelling.

Wanted on espionage charges, the American flew from Hong Kong to Moscow on 23 June – using his US passport, according to one of his lawyers – and has applied for asylum in Ecuador.

On Monday, a seat was booked in his name on a flight to Cuba, but he was not seen on board.

A passport is usually a condition of international travel, so under what circumstances can one travel without one?

According to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, Snowden has a “special refugee travel document” issued by Ecuador.

Millions of refugees cross borders without passports as they flee persecution or fighting.

In 2012, more than seven million people became refugees, according to the United Nations.

Without passports, people would be expected to present some other form of identification, says Larry Yungk, a UNHCR resettlement officer. Some refugees can be registered at a border with no identification at all.

“It’s really up to the receiving country whether they wish to accept someone into their country without a passport,” says Lavinia Limon, president and chief executive officer of the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants.

The US admits about 60,000 refugees a year from all over the world, she says, and only a handful have passports.

They are each interviewed overseas face-to-face by officials from the Department of Homeland Security to establish whether they are genuine refugees and meet admission criteria.

A document called an I-94 is issued in lieu of a passport and travel to the US is arranged for each one.

“Let’s say we’re taking people from Malaysia and they have to stop in Hong Kong before they can get to LA,” she says. “Hong Kong recognises these are US travel documents and lets them through.”

Other countries such as the UK and Canada issue similar documents, as does the International Red Cross.

If a particular state wants to allow someone to travel on a state-owned airline, they have the right to do that without even issuing papers, says extradition lawyer Douglas McNabb, if the receiving country agrees.

You can also travel without a passport if it is stolen or lost while abroad.

“You can hang around for days waiting for a new passport,” says Simon Calder, travel editor of the Independent newspaper. “Or you can get on a plane with something from your consulate that says ‘this person is OK, let him or her take a one-way flight to their destination.’

“But it’s rare and any kind of document like that is a get-out-of-jail-free card – go straight to your destination and don’t mess around.”

There are also special relationships between countries that entitle their citizens to travel between them without a passport.

For example, US citizens can travel to US territories like Puerto Rico and Guam with approved photo ID.

Beyond that, Americans always need a passport to travel by air, although US and Canadian citizens can visit each other’s countries with pre-approved Nexus cards.

There are some exceptions to the mandatory passport rule if American citizens are visiting other North American countries by land or sea, according to the US State Department website.

So if they are going to the Caribbean or Bermuda, for example, then a passport card, rather than the passport book, will be accepted. And an enhanced driving licence or military identification can also be sufficient.

The UK and the Republic of Ireland have formed the Common Travel Area, in which photo ID is usually sufficient for citizens of both countries. Immigration officers can ask for proof of nationality, so government advice is to carry one.

In 1995, 26 European countries formed the Schengen area of free travel without border controls. But passenger carriers such as airlines can still impose identity checks that may include a passport.

National identity cards are also accepted in place of passports for member countries of some regional alliances.

These include the Economic Community of West African States, the European Union and some neighbouring countries, the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, and Mercosur in South America.

Not that Queen Elizabeth II has ever to worry about carrying one. As the person who officially issues them, she is the only Briton who is exempt
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Viva Cuba Libre: Rap is War - Illegal Cuban Hip Hop Doc

In a small town outside of Havana, the young Cruz brothers are beaten and sentenced to prison for five years for listening to Cuban underground rappers, Los Aldeanos. VIVA CUBA LIBRE follows the intermingled stories of the Cruz brothers and the music that they love. From the streets of Havana comes the sound of struggle and the voice of a new revolution made thrillingly real by the hidden cameras that bring viewers inside the Cuban revolution.

We speak to filmmaker Jesse Acevedo about the process of making the movie, at risk of imprisonment to himself and his crew in this BYOD.

Jesse Acevedo is a film director born in Mexico and based in Los Angeles. He has worked on feature films, documentaries, music videos and commercials. Jesse Acevedo previously produced, wrote, and directed the feature documentary, TUDO AZUL which won the John Schlesinger Award at the Palm Springs International Film Festival. VIVA CUBA LIBRE premiered at the Miami International Film Festival and just recently played at the Newport Beach Film Festival.


Voices: My Cuban-American Christmas Eve, Without the 'Pernil'

Lunch at Casa Verde, Cienfuegos, Cuba
Cuban Culture food
Image by Corvair Owner
A delicious fish lunch at the Casa Verde restaurant. Taken in Cienfuegos, Cuba early December, 2013

Voices: My Cuban-American Christmas Eve, Without the 'Pernil'
They still cook traditional foods like plátanos maduros (ripe plantains) and arroz con frijoles (rice and black beans), but they've also expanded their culinary tastes to include hummus and samosas. It took a while for my extended family to come to …

Food for Thought
Artisan. $ 35. — Cuban Cocktails by Ravi DeRossi, Jane Danger and Alla Lapushchik. From the Cuban rum bar Cienfuegos comes this spirited collection of 100 recipes that celebrate Cuba's rich history and culture. It features classics, such as the Cuba …
Read more on Atlanta Journal Constitution

This is Cuba’s Netflix, Hulu, and Spotify – all without the internet

Media smugglers get Taylor Swift, Game of Thrones, and the New York Times to Cubans every week through an illegal network of runners.

Subscribe to our channel!

In Cuba there is barely any internet. Anything but the state-run TV channels is prohibited. Publications are limited to the state-approved newspapers and magazines. This is the law. But, in typical Cuban fashion, the law doesn’t stop a vast underground system of entertainment and news media distributors and consumers.

“El Paquete Semanal” (The Weekly Package) is a weekly trove of digital content—everything from American movies to PDFs of Spanish newspapers—that is gathered, organized and transferred by a human web of runners and dealers to the entire country. It is a prodigious and profitable operation.

I went behind the scenes in Havana to film how the Paquete works. Check out the video above to see how Cubans bypass censorship to access the media we take for granted.

Read full post at is a news website that helps you cut through the noise and understand what’s really driving the events in the headlines. Check out to get up to speed on everything from Kurdistan to the Kim Kardashian app.

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FIDELITY – A Documentary about Cuba without Castro

“Fidelity” is a documentary by Alessandra Magnaghi & Ortensia Visconti, shot in Cuba in July 2006, when Fidel Castro disappeared from the political scene passing power to his brother Raul. It was a milestone in Cuba history and it was clear to everybody that the revolutionary island would never be the same.

This is an independent documentary about the fidelity and loyalty of the people to Fidel Castro. Are Cubans going to preserve the revolutionary values supported by Fidel, even without him? History will tell, but in the meanwhile we went tu Cuba to give voice to the people.

For more information about “Fidelity”, visit our website:

The documentary “Fidelity” has been the official opening of LIDF (London International Documentary Festival) in 2009:
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