Sat, Mar 28, 2009 - Page 3 News List

BOCA warns ROC passport holders to not mar documents

By Fan Cheng-hsiang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Bureau of Consular Affairs (BOCA) yesterday said that scribbling or deleting any official markings from Republic of China (ROC) passports would be considered tampering with official documents and passport holders who did so would be requested to apply for new ones.

ROC passports are official documents and any non-official markings that are added to them are strictly prohibited, BOCA ­Director-General Lo Yu-chung (羅由中) said.

Adding any extra markings or deleting official seals inside the passport could invalidate the travel document, he said.

EXAMPLE

Citing an example, Lo said there was a case in which an ROC passport holder was unable to get a visa from a foreign embassy because his passport contained a sticker inside the pages. The immigration official refused to issue the visa even after the sticker was peeled off because it left a mark on the page. The man had to apply for a new passport, Lo said.

In recent years, some Taiwanese travelers have developed the habit of collecting stamps from different tourist destinations in their passports as souvenirs. Others use their passports to collect autographs from celebrities. This would invalidate the passport, Lo said.

TRAVEL PROBLEMS

He said people who have defaced their passports might still be using them to travel, but he warned that this was not the norm, adding that the only reason they could still use them to travel was because customs officials had not yet discovered the defaced pages.

If a customs agent in Taiwan or a foreign country discovers that a passport has been tampered with, the passport will most likely be rejected and Ministry of Foreign Affairs personnel will not be able to help, Lo said.

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