Can the wrong emergency contact written in ink in a passport be crossed out?
February 23, 2011 5:46 PM   Subscribe

Is this something I should call the State Department about or is it just a tempest in a teapot? I just got my renewed passport. In the back, where it plainly says to write in pencil, I wrote the wrong name in pen. I'm thinking I can't white it out (or whatever the 21st century equivalent is) because that would raise all sorts of red flags at customs. It would, right?? And what about just crossing out the wrong name and inserting the right one, in pencil, above? Anyone have any experience in this? Thanks.
posted by holdenjordahl to Travel & Transportation (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I'd call them and ask what to do. My passport had my name all misspelled and messed up, and traveling with it was scary every time someone inspected it and I was constantly freaked out and paranoid. Better to get it resolved.
posted by lettuchi at 5:48 PM on February 23, 2011

Best answer: I would be inclined to scratch out the pen and rewrite it in pencil next to the space. But I think you should call to check first. It'll be one less thing you have to worry about the next time you travel abroad.
posted by phunniemee at 5:49 PM on February 23, 2011

Best answer: I think that it is part depends upon where you are travelling.

If you plan to travel to places with less sophisticated customs officers, for example some of the poorer countries in Central and South America, your passport may get extra scrutiny. I would definitely not use white out, that would invite attention.

As a point of reference, on my big 9 month trip through Latin America, my passport became worn and frayed (it, um, fell in the water) and the lamination was opening near the photograph, leading to suspicion that it was doctored. I was detained in Guatemala, in a border station near Tikal, once in the airport in Quito, Ecuador, and given some extra talking to in Bolivia. Both were short detentions, but it was a hassle and I dearly wished that my passport hadn't been such a mess.
posted by seventyfour at 5:59 PM on February 23, 2011

Best answer: I wouldn't worry about it; cross it out with pencil and don't worry. It's not really part of the official identificatory function of your passport; it's to help people if it gets stolen or you are incapacitated. Crossing it out isn't going to affect any of the immigration functions of the password. Whiteout would seem slightly suspicious but the whole point of doing it in pencil is so you can change it any time. It says "for your protection" I think because an illegible page here could make it harder for them to reach your emergency contact.
posted by xueexueg at 5:59 PM on February 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: good comments, both of you: thanks.
i just got hold of someone in the State Department. she says that part of the booklet is just for us, in case someone needs to be contacted. she suggested i just leave my name (in effect, i'm my own emergency contact), with my sister's contact info.
hope this helps someone else.
posted by holdenjordahl at 6:09 PM on February 23, 2011

Response by poster: oops, thanks to everyone else, too!
posted by holdenjordahl at 6:10 PM on February 23, 2011

I believe customs doesn't even look at that part. The reason it asks you to use pencil is probably so that you can change your contact info later if it changes. Don't sweat it.
posted by msittig at 7:03 PM on February 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

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