Best to replace altered passport

Q&A

May 04, 2008|By Los Angeles Times

We are traveling to France with our dog, which was recently "eurochipped" for identification in Europe. We were provided a small bar-coded sticker with the microchip number, which I stuck on the last page of my passport for safekeeping and convenience. I am wondering, however, if I am inadvertently causing potential problems by placing a sticker in my passport. Do you have any advice on this matter?

Advice? Mon Dieu, yes. Do not pass go, do not collect $200, but do get a new passport.

Why? Well, for openers, you're dealing with the French. Further, you've altered your passport. You may just as well have pasted a sign on yourself that says, "Customs officials, harass me. Please."

OK, so we're being a little hard on the French. It could be any country's agents, frankly, who decide you have messed up your passport. They might notice; they might not.

"Defacing or altering any passport can raise questions and delay your travel," says Steve Royster, a spokesman for the State Department. "If he were the absolutely safe traveler, he would apply for a new passport. Otherwise, it's going to depend on the discretion of the border protection agents around the world." (For information, go to travel.state.gov.)

The passport problem, however, may be a cakewalk compared with your pet's tribulations.

Among the requirements for dogs, cats and ferrets are microchips or tattoos identifying the animal (although the latter are acceptable only until 2011, when the chip will become mandatory).

So, it's good your dog got a chip, but make sure that chip is compatible with French systems. Importing an animal with a different kind of chip means you may need to tote your own chip reader. (To read more, go to pettravel.com.)

Bonne chance. You both are going to need all the luck you can get.

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