Must Travel For Passport, Needs Passport To Travel - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Must Travel For Passport, Needs Passport To Travel

Published November 17, 2014

Icelandic Citizen in Peru struggles to renew his passport since 2009

Haukur Már Helgason
Photo by
Trausti Hraunfjörð

Icelandic Citizen in Peru struggles to renew his passport since 2009

One Trausti Hraunfjörð, an Icelandic citizen residing in Peru, says that Icelandic State authorities have refused to renew his passport for over five years. Paradoxically, he has been told to travel to Europe, Iceland or China to apply for a passort, which he cannot do without one.

In a news release that Trausti sent to the media, he states his intention to take the case to the European Human Rights Court or, alternately, apply for asylum in Peru, if no solution will be provided soon.

A paperless life

Trausti, an Icelandic citizen by birth, has resided in Peru since the year 2000, where he has worked in the fields of photography and photographic software solutions. After losing his passport in a forest, on travel for work, in May 2009, Trausti claims that State authorities have refused to provide him with a new one, without citing any legal reasons.

Trausti Hraunfjörð, Peru

Without a passport, Trausti explains, he can neither travel, open bank accounts, seek employment, establish a firm, apply for an Icelandic citizenship for his children, or Peruvian citizenship for himself. Trausti also has a daughter in Denmark, he says, whom he has not been able to visit for these five years.

Without being able to travel by flight, neither within Peru nor out of the country, Trausti says that his carreer in photography and related software solutions has come to standstill. Trausti’s family, his wife and four children, now rely on her income only.

Variations on Catch-22

When Trausti first contacted the Foreign Ministry’s Civil Service, he says that he was told that Iceland had gone bankrupt and there was no money to provide services to people in his position. “That is not valid legal reasoning, so much is for sure,” Trausti writes.

Trausti was then advised to visit one of Iceland’s embassies in Europe, who are authorized and equipped to provide new passports.He replied that without a passport he could not travel out of Peru.

The Civil Service then advised Trausti to go to the Icelandic Embassy in China. Trausti says that he explained his Catch-22 situation again.

Trausti was then advised to go to Iceland and have his passport issued there, upon which he explained once more.

The handwritten emergency passport

At that point, Trausti was provided with a temporary “emergency passport”, in order for him to be able to travel wherever he would apply for and receive a new, valid, passport. Trausti was warned that the document was valid only according to Icelandic law, and might or might not be accepted by other authorities. When he appeared at a Peruvian airport with that, according to Trausti, “handwritten” emergency passport, airport authorities did not accept it as valid ID.

Trausti says that the same happened when he intended to renew his rental contract: his landlord did not accept the handwritten paper as an ID and Trausti lost the contract. When Trausti intended to apply for Icelandic citizenship on behalf of his children in Peru, Register Iceland did not accept the paper as a valid ID either.

It’s biometric

Changes were made to the Icelandic passport legislation in 2006, demanding biometric information on a microchip as part of the ID. After this change, applicants must now be present in person for the collection of the required data. Only seven Icelandic embassies issue valid passports, in accordance with the new law: five in Europe, one in the USA and one in China. The mobile passport equipment once bought to provide services to Icelandic citizens abroad, has reportedly been permanently fixed in Iceland’s Embassy to China in Beijing.

Trausti says that he then contacted Iceland’s Ambassador for the Americas, residing in Canada. The Ambassador, Sturla Sigurjonsson, eventually replied, according to Trausti, saying that he cannot provide any assistance. Trausti says that the same goes for his attempts to contact Ministers, Amnesty International, Althingi’s Ombudsman and more.

Trausti says that more people are in a similar position: having resided out of Iceland for a while, they are refused a renewal of their passports unless they travel to Iceland, which the lack of a passport makes near impossible.

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