Arrival cards, Immigration cards, Custom declaration cards at airports often have a field that asks for home address/country of residence, etc...

What if a backpacker no longer maintains a residence and therefore has no home address (and has no family that has a home address either)? How should a backpacker fill out that field? Should he leave it blank? Can he write a non-residential mailing address instead? Do immigration/custom officers even care about that field?

  • In general, leaving it blank is probably a bad idea, but the details will vary from country to country. Can you be more specific? – phoog Oct 9 '17 at 17:22
  • 1
    You and I must travel to different countries, because the only experience I've had with these cards is in the US and the UK, where they ask about the address where you'll be staying in the US and the UK, respectively, not about your home address. None of the other two dozen or so countries I've visited had such forms, let alone forms asking about place of residence. Perhaps they're more common in Asia, where I haven't been to many places at all. – phoog Oct 9 '17 at 18:08
  • 2
    I would answer "no fixed abode" and country that issued passport or where I pay taxes (or last did so). I would also prepare for long and detailed interrogation by customs officers. – RedGrittyBrick Oct 9 '17 at 18:10
  • 5
    Just to add: not having attachments to another country is a common reason for refusal by immigration officials who fear you may settle there illegally. – Jim MacKenzie Oct 9 '17 at 19:33
  • 1
    @phoog very common in Asia, at least. HK, Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Myanmar, Philippines, etc all require a country, city, and up to, for some of them, full address. – user67108 Oct 10 '17 at 3:14

While it might seem so, most intentional backpackers aren't necessarily 'homeless' and keep a domicile somewhere. Parents, friends, address of their storage unit, even a PO Box would suffice.

Point being, it doesn't have to be a house, apartment or actual living space.

For US Persons, it's whatever you use for a Driver License or State ID.

If you had to receive official correspondence, what address would you use?

| improve this answer | |
  • What if you're a US person with no driver's license or state ID because you have no fixed domicile? – phoog Oct 9 '17 at 18:02
  • 7
    @phoog Then you would be genuinely homeless, but...as I noted, this really isn't the case for most backpackers or even 'stateless' people. Van lifers and other intentional transients still have an address somewhere. – Johns-305 Oct 9 '17 at 18:17

Unless you've grown up on the streets you did have an address at some point in your life. Write down your last known address and forget about it. No one is going to check if you actually live there and nobody really cares. The field is just a formality in case they need your postal address for some reason. Whether or not you can actually receive correspondence at that address is not anyone's concern.

In some countries (e.g. Czech Republic) there is also the option to register yourself as a person without a residency, in which case your address would be the address of the local municipality office. This is the address that many homeless people have, as well as those who try to hide their real location from creditors, ex-husbands, etc.

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    "Whether you can receive correspondence at that address" may turn out to be very much your concern. If a government agency needs to get in touch with you (whether to say "You are entitled to a tax rebate" or "You need to pay this in 28 days to avoid a fine"), they will use the address you provided. OP may not be concerned about this, but should at least consider it; perhaps "not anyone's concern but your own" would be better. – Tim Lymington Oct 9 '17 at 22:03
  • @TimLymington some consulates also use the address to send back your passport by mail. You would certainly be in trouble if you can't receive it. – JonathanReez Oct 9 '17 at 22:09
  • "Write down your last known address". What if you sold that house to travel around the world? I don't think this is the right answer – Mario Garcia Oct 10 '17 at 6:57
  • 2
    @MarioGarcia you still remember that old address right? Just use it. – JonathanReez Oct 10 '17 at 7:12
  • @JonathanReez I'd rather use a friends address, since you can recieve correspondence, just in case. Might be opinion based anyway, no downvote. – Mario Garcia Oct 10 '17 at 7:20

All you need is an address. It is best though if it matches your other documents. For example, nearly every one who travels has a credit card and I do not know of any banks who would issue one without an address. Driver's licenses also have addresses in many country.

Using an address that matches helps you use these other documents to confirm your identity and will appear natural when immigration does a cross-check.

Now if you truly have no address written on any ID or bill or other official document, then I would use an old one first or some of close family. Should neither apply then you will have to be creative, perhaps workplace or a shared address used for deliveries.

The Where do you live? question is often asked at immigration, so I would much prefer to supply an address than leave it blank and try to explain that. Remember that they usually want to know that you can support yourself, so not having an address may raise question about employment.

| improve this answer | |
  • 2
    How would immigration officials know what address is associated with a traveler's credit card? – phoog Oct 9 '17 at 21:04
  • In many cases, they ask to see statements as proof of funds, either credit cards or bank, both normally have an address. – Itai Oct 9 '17 at 22:36

If your passport (or even your national ID card) has a residential address listed (like the French passport/ID) then write down that address. That's what I do in the many countries that I travel to that require an address. The fact that this address may or may not be valid is beside the point. It's on the passport, it's official... :-)

If not, write whatever address you last had. It's not like they are going to check, unless you are from a country that is on their shit list. But in that case, you probably don't get visa-free entry, and would have to apply for a visa, where you'd have to provide an address...

The probability that their administration will want to contact you is very small -- and generally that would be while you are in-country, which is why they ask where you'll stay. And they can reach you at the border if they really want to talk to you.

Likewise, unless you're facing a very suspicious immigration officer (and your attitude justifies their suspicion), you won't have to prove your address. Never once, in close to 30 years of international travel, have I been asked once to prove my address at a border. And I used to carry a backpack and had long hair too! Now, not so much of course...

Bottom line, write down your last address and forget about it.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.