What is supposed to happen when you arrive at passport control and you hand over your passport to a bored chap behind a sheet of perspex?
Just before covid-19, I accidentally traveled the world on a passport that had been reported as stolen. I only learned of the mistake when coming back to the UK. Before this I had assumed that passport-control involved lots of high tech checks, big databases, electronics and facial recognition systems, and yet somehow I managed an impressive tour of several countries (including known trouble spots and countries with a good reputation for security). Since my tour I have downgraded my expectations to think that all the bored-looking guy actually does is check that the face matches mine, and the passport wasn't printed on a laserjet.
Some background (edited for brevity). My old UK passport had expired, I applied for a new one, waited for ages but nothing happened. I contacted the passport office and was told 'we courier-ed it to you weeks ago'. Despite my protests, they insisted it had been delivered and told me I had to report it stolen and then pay for a new one. I did this, got the new one suspiciously quickly (1 day) and then went travelling a month later.
Only when I went through passport control back in the UK was I told my passport was stolen. (i.e. it was the one I had reported as not being delivered).
So, back to the original question, what's supposed to happen at passport control? doesn't the passport get checked against a list of stolen passports? Is it not checked against a database from the issuing country?
Trying to explain sequence of events....
- old passport expired
- ordered new passport via passport office.
- After 3 months I contacted Passport Office and asked 'where's my passport?' their response was 'we delivered it 2 months ago'.
- Passport Office insisted it was delivered (but couldn't provide proof). They then told me if I wanted a replacement I had to report the old one as stolen.
- I reported the undelivered passport as being stolen (as requested by the Passport Office)
- I applied for a second, new passport.
- One day later I received a passport through my letterbox.
- I went travelling.
What I now realise was that the passport I received in step '7' was almost certainly the passport that I had actually ordered 3 months ago and was just very, very late. At the time I didn't check the number.