Do you know the way to San Jose with an expired passport?
May 15, 2010 12:31 PM   Subscribe

Can I travel within the US using an expired Canadian passport?

I am a total "Grade A" idiot.

My Canadian passport expired at the end of March and I didn't renew it.
I am in the US on a valid F1 student visa.
The only drivers license I have is an expired (>5 years) Canadian one.

And of course I need to get from New York City to San Jose by Tuesday.

I have a flight booked, but now I am worried I won't be allowed on.

Should I start hitchhiking now or does anyone know if I'll be allowed to fly?

Anonymous because I am ashamed of my 'Grade A' idiot status and I am not a fan of my immigration information being all over the web. If you want to e-mail an answer here is a throw away e-mail address:
posted by anonymous to Travel & Transportation around San Jose, CA (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Would it be possible to get to a Canadian embassy or consulate on Monday and get an expedited passport renewal? If nothing else, you may want to call an embassy or consulate and ask about this. Even if you have a valid visa, I'm not sure how you would travel without any unexpired ID.
posted by MsKim at 12:48 PM on May 15, 2010

If you don't have current, government-issued ID, you may not be allowed on the plane (at the least, you'll surely have to go through additional screening). You might be able to get a driver's license or state ID from New York by going to a DMV; they may take a utility bill in your name as proof of address.
posted by deadweightloss at 12:53 PM on May 15, 2010

While the new TSA guidelines are vague, tending negative (it doesn't say 'valid' foreign passport, but let's assume that's what it means), but the people at FlyerTalk suggest that if you plead idiocy and submit yourself to the TSA's third-degree screening with as much documentation as possible, you may be allowed on the plane. That's a risky bet to take.

The consulate probably isn't going to help you, as its 'emergency travel document issuance' is meant for people stranded abroad -- I love their 'if it's urgent, go to Canada!' advice to US residents. If you live and study in NY state, the DMV is likely your best shot at getting a state ID, and your passport, visa and I-20 form should be enough to satisfy at least part of the identity requirements there.
posted by holgate at 1:06 PM on May 15, 2010

Not that it is entirely applicable to your situation, but ...

ID is not quite entirely mandatory for domestic air travel in the USA. If you present yourself at the TSA checkpoint without ID and are "cooperative", then the TSA will ask you a number of personal questions to ascertain your identity (they verify the answers via a phone call to a commercial data aggregator they've contracted with), subject you to a more intensive secondary search, and then let you get on the airplane.

For a US citizen, flying domestically in a lost/expired ID scenario is eminently doable if you are willing to grovel and apologize profusely to the TSA (i.e. you must amply demonstrate that you are, in the words of the TSA policy, "cooperative"). However, given the current US hysteria relating to air security and foreigners, presenting yourself as an alien without documents at an international airport's TSA checkpoint seems like a sure-fire way to meet a skeptical immigration enforcement officer.

I would plan on taking the bus. Seriously. Dealing with the notoriously unreasonable, power-trippy, jail-happy US immigration officers is something I would avoid at every and all costs in your situation. And plan your route to stay far away from the Mexican border area, with its roving immigration checkpoints along the major highways.
posted by Dimpy at 1:17 PM on May 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

Go to the DMV first thing Monday morning. Get there before they open. Bring all your documents (Your F1 documents particularly since you want to demonstrate that you're in the country legally). Also bring other documents that prove your address (utility/phone bills).

Apply for an ID card. That way you won't have to take a test of any sort. In my state it usually takes a week or so for a new license/ID to be mailed to you. In some states they actually print it while you wait. If NY does this, then you could potentially walk out of there with a valid ID that you can show to TSA.

If all else fails, then show up at the airport with expired IDs a few hours before your flight. This will give you plenty of time to go through many levels of screening before you're allowed on the plane. If you're white then you have one more thing in your favor.
posted by special-k at 1:42 PM on May 15, 2010

For a US citizen, flying domestically in a lost/expired ID scenario is eminently doable if you are willing to grovel and apologize profusely to the TSA

If you lose it while traveling, then you can get a police report and just show that at the airport.
posted by special-k at 1:43 PM on May 15, 2010

If you feel like a meetup while in San Jose Memail me, I'll throw something together.
posted by special-k at 1:45 PM on May 15, 2010

I am not a lawyer. I don't even have a lawyer. That said, I'm a Canadian living in the USA on a similar visa, and I'm pretty sure that allowing my passport to expire while inside the USA is a violation of the terms of my visa and would open me up to the risk of deportation.

So, regardless of the answer to your specific travel question, I would talk to an immigration lawyer post haste.
posted by 256 at 2:17 PM on May 15, 2010

I am a Canadian permanent resident of the US and I accidentally flew to Phoenix from Harrisburg return last year with an expired Canadian passport. I didn't realize that it had expired. Outbound to Phoenix they didn't even notice - when I checked in at the Phoenix airport to return, the security guy pointed out that it was expired but accepted it anyway.

That being said, make sure you have some form of valid ID. My green card and driver's license were/are valid so I could have used them if they gave me a hard time about the passport. Special-k's DMV plan sounds good.
posted by L. Ron McKenzie at 2:22 PM on May 15, 2010

I've flown several times with an expired driver's license. One time, the TSA checker pointed out to me that it's expired (it was the day after the expiration date), but it never came up at subsequent ID checkpoints.
posted by halogen at 2:54 PM on May 15, 2010

Bring your birth certificate and all photo ID you can get your hands on (and of course the passport also) and plead idiocy.

Might also be good to go start your renewal application asap on Monday morning, they might be able to give you a piece of paper that says your renewal is in progress. Couldn't hurt.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 3:20 PM on May 15, 2010

This is all good advice here. Let me add that I think it would be extremely unwise to present an expired passport to the TSA if you are a foreign national--even a Canadian. TSA is insane and the people that work there are not to be trusted to be human in the least. Try to get an emergency passport from your consulate/embassy, and if that fails/takes to long, DO NOT GO ANYWHERE NEAR AN AIRPORT.

TSA is scary. Even U.S. citizens are hassled by them, and we're supposed to have rights (yes, I know, I am being naive!).

Seriously, don't even think of going near those thugs with an expired passport.
posted by mixer at 4:08 PM on May 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yes, call the embassy. Once in a comparable situation they [in DC] issued me [Canadian] a little document with a photo, that day, so I could get on a plane. This was pre-9/11 so the details are not worth going into, but, call.
posted by kmennie at 5:47 PM on May 15, 2010

I agree with MsKim that contacting the Canadian consulate in New York should be your first step. I doubt you'll be able to apply for a state photo ID without a valid passport. The consulate might be able to give you some temporary document showing that your renewal is in progress, and if nothing else they ought to be able to explain how it affects your immigration status.
posted by serathen at 5:54 PM on May 15, 2010

Regarding the immigration status question, according to ICE Canada is one of the countries that has an agreement with the US to extend a passport's validity 6 months past its expiration date for persons holding valid visas. I certainly wouldn't count on the TSA folks to know that, but the ICE doesn't seem overly concerned about people being in the country on expired passports.
posted by katemonster at 6:59 PM on May 15, 2010 [3 favorites]

For the love of god, don't fly. Your odds of ending up in jail, even as a Canadian, are way too effing high. There is neither sanity nor sympathy at airports even for Americans. I'd go to the DMV/call the embassy/beg for help, but I don't think you can count on becoming legal again by the time you need to be in SJ.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:53 PM on May 15, 2010


Your link does not support the statement you are making. It says that the USA has an agreement with Canada allowing Canadians to enter the country up until the expiry date of their passports, but it doesn't say anything so far as I can tell about allowing them to stay past expiry.
posted by 256 at 6:47 PM on May 16, 2010


"Try to keep your passport current at all times. You need to determine your country’s requirements for renewing passports as well as the time it will take. Many countries will allow you to renew your passport while in the United States. The other alternative is to renew your passport when you return home for a visit.
You may want to delay leaving the United States until you have renewed your passport. You will not be able to reenter the United States without a valid passport."

Since this is the ICE's website, presumably they would say you were out of status if that were the case. And from the State Department:

Some countries have agreements with the United States whereby their
passports are recognized as valid for return to the country concerned for
a period of six months beyond the expiration date specified in the
passport. The effect of these agreements is to extend the period of
validity of the passport for six months beyond the expiration date
appearing on the face of the document, for the purposes of INA

posted by katemonster at 7:42 PM on May 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

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