It was an advisory from Westjet Airlines that caught my attention. It came out of the blue and when I looked into it I was surprised to find out that some Canadians were being denied bording because of the condition of their passport.
Apparently, Mexican customs and immigration officers have become very stringent in their examination of the passports of those wanting to enter the country, and have denied a handful of Canadians entry because of rips, tears, missing corners or water damage to the cover or inside pages.
As it is the responsibility of the airline to get these passengers back to the originating country immediately, airlines are now doing closer passport examinations upon check-in and denying boarding to those they feel will be later denied entry to Mexico.
Although WestJet officials clearly state Mexico has adopted a tougher approach this year, the Mexican Embassy in Ottawa insists there has been no change in their passport policy relating to what customs and immigration staff are instructed to do relating to the condition of passports.
They underscore that passports in generally good condition, as can be expected under normal use, are no problem.
For travellers, the warning from WestJet presents a dilemma. No one wants to be put in a position of having to renew passports any earlier than their expiry date. Forewarned is forearmed, so as a precaution, check your passports now and make your own assessment about its condition, or go to the airport ahead of time to check with the airline personnel you will be travelling with to Mexico.
At a time when Mexico suffers from too much media attention because of crime coverage in various parts of the country, this is not likely the best time for officials to get over sensitive about a few water marks or crumpled pages.
But for the traveller it is best to be save than sorry and take whatever action you can in advance to avoid disappointment.
I can’t think of much worse than one family member being denied boarding because of one passport that may not meet the stringent conditions Mexico appears to be expecting this year.
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