visas – What countries in the Schengen area accept US travel document (form I-571)

I’m planning a trip to Europe this summer (Italy, Spain and Portugal) and will be using my travel document (Form I-571) that I have based on asylum from Syria. I had a visa appointment at the Spanish consulate today and was not able to submit the application as the officer mentioned that Spain does not recognize refugee/asylee travel documents.

This wikipedia page mentions that Spain accepts U.S. travel documents, however, I’ve read other sources that site the opposite such as this thread. Do you know which countries accept a travel document (with a Schengen visa) in 2019? I’d appreciate if you can include an official website, I’m having a hard time finding any.

Are there countries that bar nationals from traveling to certain countries? (Outbound travel-ban)

I know that a(n inbound) travel ban based on nationality is normally enforced at the destination. It is most notable that Israelis suffer this kind of ban from most of the Arabic world.

Another notable examples are North and South Korea, which are reciprocal enemies and do not accept nationals of either nationality. It’s also extremely difficult to actually get a passport for North Koreans.

And of course US travel bans issued by Mr. Trump against nationals of certain Muslim countries.

But I wanted to ask about the opposite, mostly for sake of curiosity. Are there countries that forbid their own nationals to visit certain enemy states despite that destination state accepting them?

Example. National of country A can legally enter state B (from B’s laws point of view, and most likely using a connecting flight), but when that person returns to the home country A they get prosecuted by law, e.g. if they have passport stamps, pocket money from B or just any other evidence to have visited that state.

From the first example: an Israeli dual-national is likely to be able to visit Libya with a second passport, but I never heard about any Israeli law prohibiting individuals to visit Libya (should the government ever find out) and convicting such travelers.

Are there countries that bar nationals from traveling to certain countries? (Reverse travel-ban)

I know that a travel ban based on nationality is normally enforced at the destination. It is most notable that Israelis suffer this kind of ban from most of the Arabic world.

Another notable examples are North and South Korea, which are reciprocal enemies and do not accept nationals of either nationality. It’s also extremely difficult to actually get a passport for North Koreans.

And of course US travel bans issued by Mr. Trump against nationals of certain Muslim countries.

But I wanted to ask about the opposite, mostly for sake of curiosity. Are there countries that forbid their own nationals to visit certain enemy states despite that destination state accepting them?

Example. National of country A can legally enter state B (from B’s laws point of view, and most likely using a connecting flight), but when that person returns to the home country A they get prosecuted by law, e.g. if they have passport stamps, pocket money from B or just any other evidence to have visited that state.

From the first example: an Israeli dual-national is likely to be able to visit Lybia with a second passport, but I don’t know, never heard, about any Israeli law prohibiting individuals to visit Lybia (should the government ever find out).

france – Which countries refer to themselves by their shape?

The Finnish Maiden (Suomi-neito) refers to the shape of Finland, which looks vaguely like a woman in a long dress with one hand raised:

enter image description here

(From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Finnish_Maiden)

Notably, the “arm” is known in Finnish as “The Arm” (Käsivarsi) and former capital Turku has the unfortunate designation of being Finland’s butt (Suomen perse; it’s even more rude in the original).

tls – How is HTTPS protected against MITM attacks by other countries?

The Certificate Transparency standard requires that when a certificate is issued, it should also be submitted to one or more Certificate Logs. These are simple network services that maintain cryptographically assured, publicly auditable, append-only records of certificates. Once a certificate has been added to a Certificate Log, an independent monitor can check the log to ensure that no fraudulent certificate has been issued. These days browsers require all certificates to have a Signed Certificate Timestamp (SCT) either in a TLS extension or through OSCP stapling, which is used to establish that the certificate has been added to a Certificate Log. Most browsers require the certificate to be present in more than one log (chrome requires atleast two). If the SCT is missing, the certificate is rejected. This ensures that whenever any root/intermediate CA starts issuing fraudulent certificates, the monitors will notice and raise a red flag. Then either the CA revokes the certificates, or browsers stop trusting that particular CA.

In the past, HTTP Public Key Pinning was used. This involved the browser saving the public key(s) of a site the first time it was visited, and if the keys suddenly changed, the browser would refuse to connect. Dynamic pinning, which allows any site to be pinned at the first visit, has now been deprecated. However, static pinning, in which browsers ship with hardcoded public keys for popular domains like google.com and facebook.com, is still used. This can also be used to detect MITMs with fraudulently issued certificates, if the MITM targets any of these popular domains.

covid 19 – Does the negative PCR test ‘EU list of safe countries’ exemption apply to travellers with a layover in a third country?

The Netherlands requires most travellers from outside the EU to present a negative PCR test result to show that they are not carriers of COVID-19. One of the exemptions to this rule is:

People arriving from countries on the EU list of safe countries;

Does that exemption still apply if one departs from a country on the list, has a layover (same ticket; different flight; without leaving the airport) in a third country that’s not on the list (or otherwise exempted), to continue the final flight to the Netherlands?

So the flight path is as follows:

Safe country on the EU list => third country outside Schengen that’s not on the list => the Netherlands

culture – Is Thursday a “party” day in other countries?

I’m from Brazil, and here, in almost every city, Thursdays are days which adults (> 25 y/o) go out and have some fun, staying up until late even if they got to go to work the next Friday morning.
Bars and night clubs run full.

Usually, fridays are expected to be the day for hanging out, but that is only truth for teenagers and young adults (< 25 y/o ) around here. Adults here tend to use their Friday to visit family, close friends AND have business dinners instead of going to the night club.

This perspective is true around <1M citizens cities. Big cities like Curitiba, São Paulo, Rio, Salvador, Recife, etc party all day.

This being true, myself (22 y/o), do not schedule any business dinners with other older coworkers on thursdays because of that. And so often I have to plan them on fridays which is normal for them but not for me, since all my friends are inviting me to hang out and go to a bar, etc.

This is not the main point though, my question is:

  1. Does this happen often in other countries? Because I have two business travels scheduled to Spain and Germany May/2021 and I’m in charge of the schedule.

Thank you 🙂

visas – Border crossing in CA-4 countries (Guatemala, Honduras) for foreigners

The CA-4 agreement classifies nationalities in three categories: A, B, C.

CA-4 Visa Categories

Nicaragua and Honduras recognize Belarus citizens as “A” citizens, who are visa exempt:

CA-4 Nationalities List

.. which means that with an ordinary Belarus passport you can enter both Honduras and Nicaragua with no visa.

When you’ve entered the CA-4 through one of the above two countries that consider you an A citizen, can you move freely to other CA-4 countries, with a Belarus passport? No.

You can move freely between Honduras and Nicaragua, but in order to travel to Guatemala or El Salvador, you need to obtain a visa:

Cuando uno de los Estados Parte, beneficie a un país clasificado en la “categoría B” a “Categoría A”; y su nacionalidad debe movilizarse en la región, que requiere visa, podrá solicitarla en el Consulado respectivo.

When one of the CA-4 countries grants a nationality an “A” category, which is otherwise considered by the CA-4 as a “B” category, and this national needs to move in the CA-4 region, to a country that requires a visa, the national will be able to apply for a Visa at the respective consulate.

Source: https://igm.gob.gt/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/MANUAL-CA4-Unificado.pdf

planning – Are there any topographic or recreation atlases of Germany or the Alpine countries?

I’m looking for a topographic or recreation atlas for Germany and/or the Alpine countries. Does such an atlas exist?

There are plenty of road atlases (ADAC, Falk, Michelin, others) in scales between 1:150k and 1:300k, but those are entirely focussed on driving a car, with little topographic information; at best they have hill shading and important rivers. Apart from some stars or circles drawn on the map and displaying some campgrounds, there is little practical information on recreation. For example, they’re of little value for planning cycle touring trips.

There are topographic maps in scale 1:250k for sale at Bundesamt für Kartographie und Geodäsie. 30 sheets cover Germany, but this appears to be available only as paper sheets, not in a browsable book form. Swisstopo has excellent 1:200k overview maps as well (4 sheets cover the entire country).

I found the Topographischer Atlas Bundesrepublik Deutschland, which would satisfy my demand, but it appears to be last updated in 1977, which is rather old. There also appears to be a DVD version from 2006, advertising it includes “all 12 volumes on one DVD”; I’m not sure volumes of what, and I don’t know if it’s all thematic maps or also geographic/topographic maps covering the country in some detail.

What I’m looking for is either something like:

  • the topografische atlas van Nederland (a Dutch topographical atlas (although for Germany it’d have to be either per state/region or in a smaller scale)), or
  • the Национальный атлас России (national atlas of Russia), or
  • something like the Benchmark Maps Road & Recreation Atlases in the western United States; although those aren’t topographic, their maps are doing a better job showing the landscape than any European road maps/atlases I’ve seen and there’s plenty of recreation information too.

Does something like this exist for either Germany or the Alpine Countries, preferably from the last 25 years?

I love browsing beautiful paper maps, and it could be a great inspiration for yet-undiscovered travel destinations that don’t require flying halfway across the world.