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Countries with Bad Border Policies

If you know of any other countries that systematically do something nasty to all or most visitors, please let me know (email rms at gnu dot org). Likewise, if your personal experience indicates any of this information is inaccurate, please tell me.

I know of nine countries that everyone should refuse to visit, because they demand the fingerprints of visitors. These are the US, Argentina, Panama, Japan, South Korea, Cambodia, Malaysia, Ghana and Saudi Arabia. Don't stand for such treatment — refuse to go!

Be careful about transfer flights through these countries, too. Sometimes transfer passengers are required to "enter the country" and give their fingerprints. (International transfers in the US are such a hassle, in other ways, that even US citizens would do well to choose other routes.)

Indonesia has started taking fingerprints of visitors at some airports. An Australian visitor who got a visa on arrival reported this in Medan. At present (February 2012) this may not be in effect in all airports, but be careful before you go.

Don't visit the United Arab Emirates either. That country takes iris scans of every visitor. In one way, this is not as bad as fingerprints, because you don't leave iris prints on things you touch. However, there is a concern that iris scans could be used to recognize people automatically as they move on the street. Thus, I urge people to refuse to allow their irises to be scanned by anyone, ever.

Japan demands an iris scan, too.

Kenya is reported to take fingerprints of some visitors on the way in, and others (maybe everyone) on the way out.

Yerevan airport takes fingerprints of departing passengers. Therefore, if you visit Armenia, don't fly out of Armenia. Go overland to Georgia and leave from there.

The UK is going to check fingerprints of visitors, but only for those that were required to give their fingerprints when applying for a visa. Two fingerprint checks are not much worse than one; but just one is enough reason for the affected people to refuse to go to that country.

It is not hard to alter fingerprints. It costs too much to do for no particular reason, but if you have some money to spend, it is perfectly feasible.

resistance movement in the 1980s eliminated mandatory fingerprinting in Japan.

Now the job has to be done over again.

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