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Because I am a German national and still hold a passport from my mother country, I do not need a visa to enter Brazil.
When I arrived at JFK, I asked the agents at the TAM Airlines counter for assistance, but no one knew for sure what I should do. In a bit of desperation, I asked if TAM had anyone at JFK who my wife could show my green card to before the plane was scheduled to take off, which was still 2.5 hours away. It never ceases to amaze me at the rude and crude comments made by some people like Fred Moglia and Ms Alex. I, too, am a seasoned traveller (see the previous post on this blog where I’m mentioned), but still managed to find myself in document trouble. About Intelligent TravelNational Geographic believes that to know the world is to change it. So I’m posting this cautionary tale in the event anyone else runs into the same predicament as I did and needs some guidance.
All I did know was that I could leave without a green card and since I could safely have it sent overnight, I decided to go that route. Even though it had been in the back of my mind throughout the week, I was quite confident all would work out fine. Luckily, they did and even more fortunately, I got hold of my wife who hastily drove to JFK in time to show the airport manager the green card. Critics, do get off your moral high horses as this happens despite our best travel intentions.


The airline (I think it was TAM) refused to let me board, even though I’m also a Brazilian national (!), until I had secured the elusive piece of paper. And that swayed me into thinking it wasn’t needed all around, but I discovered the hard way it was mandatory for the Bolivia-Brazil segment of my trip.
An arrogant fool who makes money out of travelling but casually forgets his documents is a PITA for everyone at the airport, his wife and the boarding team.
We're on the front lines of travel that illuminates, celebrates, and preserves irreplaceable places—and we're taking you along for the ride. This was not always the case, but Brazil has a reciprocal visa policy, meaning they adopt the same measures towards countries that place restrictions on theirs. Just to make certain I’d be ok, I paid a visit to the airport security office for some additional counsel.
They will be able to assist you, and you won’t end up at the airport scrambling to figure out what to do like I did. They simply do not want to risk paying for the expenses incurred, but they also face hefty fines if their lax monitoring is discovered.
A silly mistake, but not uncommon in the oft-hectic run up to any trip…hardly an arrogant stance. We are not perfect, admittedly, but we do hope our ill adventures mean your travels will be.
After hearing my plan, they recommended I not leave without it in case something unforeseeable went wrong with the FedEx delivery.
They told me because the airlines are held accountable for travelers entering the country legally, they do not board anyone without proper documentation.
After we landed at JFK, the TAM gate agent had the card waiting for me and I got through Passport Control without a hitch.


So: Not only valid travel documents should be remembered, but valid HEALTH documents that could make or break your trip. Losing my green card in the mail would be a worst-case scenario and should be avoided at all costs. Even though I explained my situation and showed them a photocopy of my green card, that wasn’t sufficient. I left mine at home but went with the option to go to the consulate and get a travel letter. What if my wife comes to JFK to pick me up when I return and gets it to the proper authorities to give to me when I arrive?
After some further consultation, the security officers agreed that this might be a safer play.
They were able to address my emergency without the need of an appointment which would probably take a month.
That does not diminish the desperation I felt the whole time before I had the transport letters in my hand thinking I was spending valantines day away from my wife and family and having to extend my stay in London. Word of advice is to keep your documentation for travel bundled, that is always have your passport and greencard in a pouch or document wallet.



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