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Taking Gpsr Overseas


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I'm leaving for Scandinavia/Russia in a few days. I've been planning on packing my Garmin Vista and a bunch of GC printouts for some cool overseas caching. However, while I was at the L.A. Passport Agency, I read a pamphlet that said GPSr units had to be declared or I could face my GPSr being confiscated, a fine, or imprisonment up to 10 years because of "national security" concerns. None of that sounds fun, so can anyone tell me if I should have any concerns? Thanks.

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Thanks.  Are there other sites to check if similar restrictions are in other countries throughout Europe?

This question is not answerable as such. There are certain differences in legal systems throughout the continent: What is the case for Russia may be the case as well also for Belorussia or the Ukraine, but not at all for Turkey, Andorra, the Vatican or Moldawia. If you are planning on scandinavian countries (Norway, Sweden, Finland), I'd not expect any problems (if in doubt, ask Divine or any of the loacal cachers directly).

 

BalkanSabranje

 

P.S. For a list of ccTLDs usable for in-depth research, look here: ccTLDs

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SugarDaddy,

I just recently went to Russia. Yes check geocaching.ru for local caches there as there are only 16 listed here on gc.com for Russia.

 

Yes you must contact the Dept. of Communications in Russia to file for a permit and must declare your GPS on entering the country.

Make sure you are not looking suspicous when caching and be careful they are very weird on certain things over there.

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That's kinda scary. I wonder why it is an issue? We've taken our gps with us out of the country and never thought it was a problem. :(

The pamphlet from the Department of State said that a contractor was recently arrested and charged with espionage for using his GPSr. He was doing some telecommunications work and was using his GPSr to make sure the lines were running where they were supposed to. He assumed, incorrectly, that his company had properly registered the GPSr.

 

The reason cited was because Russia doesn't like the idea of people (foreigners, especially) to be able to gather coordinates of infastructure and sensitive areas. Makes sense to me.

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Western Europe is as GPSr friendly as the US. I've carried my GPSr in the open without hassle in Germany, Switzerland, Czech Republic, France, and Spain. Of course, I may not have run into the hard-liner cop who wanted to make an issue of some small rule about GPSrs in these places, but I didn't even really get awkward glances (and it came in handy for more than just caching).

 

You could always try calling your local foreign consulate for the country you are planning on visiting. I have found the consulates for a number of countries in Boston to be very helpful and kind on other issues.

 

Also, there shouldn't be any problem getting your GPSr on board an aircraft. I carry mine on and even use it while in flight to see what our path, altitude, ground speed, etc. is.

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Do you have to do anything special when you turn your GPSr on overseas? I know it will take awhile to figure out where it is (like the first time you turned it on out of the box). Other than that does it work the same as in the US?

Works exactly the same depending on how well your machine orients to the new satellite numbers/signals it will be getting. I needed a good clear sky and about 5-10 minutes for my little yellow eTrex to get reoriented to the Madrid sky from Boston....although depending on where you go overseas, you might need to get used to the numbers getting larger when you head east or south instead of smaller.. :(

 

...and if you need your compass, as has been pointed out in a number of recent threads, you'll need to determine your new correction from geographic north to magnetic north.

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Is need for GPS permit in Russia, but no problem -- you will get. Just do not make waypoint in Russia. If accidental near military place you sent to Siberia.

Kinda hard to do when you're at home in the States happily plugging away in coordinates that for all you know sit right on top of secret base. :blink:

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You could always try calling your local foreign consulate for the country you are planning on visiting. I have found the consulates for a number of countries in Boston to be very helpful and kind on other issues.

Agreed. If in doubt, contact the consulate. I have found the people in these offices to be very friendly and willing to help. They can even help you by sending the proper forms.

 

I haven't made it to Russia yet but a few coworkers have. They had no problems but they talk about the uptight police and customs agents. Expect your bags to be searched thoroughly.

 

Ignore the "don't ask, don't tell" advice. In most countries, ignorance of the law is not a viable excuse. Some places will just confiscate the prohibited items but other countries will give you a headache a bucket of Tylenol can't cure.

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I had no problems with mine in Italy in May. Our Roman tour guide thought I was ignoring him and playing with a handheld video game at first, but once I explained caching, and especially the LC's he was very interested. He had been thinking about getting one for sailing but wasn't sure if it was worth it. Pretty sure I cleared that up for him once we located the Forum cache.

Sounds like Soviet paranoia is your biggest worry, so ask the consulate and State department for more detailed explanations. Have a great and safe trip.

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Thanks for the input everyone! I got an e-mail from Devine last night that put me at ease for everywhere I'm going. Except for my visit to Russia, where my GPSr will just have to stay out of the country. Funny, I was telling people that unless there was an "unfortunate international incident," I would be back home on the 18th. Little did I know that by caching in Russia, there really COULD have been an incident!

 

Feel free to continue posting about overseas destinations where caching is accepted or not accepted. Helps me to plan future vacations. For instance, anyone been to Thailand to cache? <_<

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There are a couple things to be aware of

 

In some of these countries, the "authorities" are not as honest as one would like to beleive. Often they will attempt to extort a bribe or threaten to "confiscate" your unit. If the later, Mention to them that the GPS is registered with their government and that you will then insist on a signed receipt with their name on it to explain why you don't have it when you leave the country.

 

At that point they will probably leave you alone, possibly extorting a bribe... err... FINE for improper use. They were most likely "confiscating" it for their own personal use.

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Also, there shouldn't be any problem getting your GPSr on board an aircraft. I carry mine on and even use it while in flight to see what our path, altitude, ground speed, etc. is.

I'm curious on this: do you ask the airline first or just go ahead and use it in-flight? I've just been on a short trip, 2 airlines: one said NO WAY, the other said Fine! ...and even wanted to compare my readings with the flightdeck :huh:

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In the last year I have had the opportunity to do some extensive travelling and have always taken my GPSr with me from Sweden where I live. It has visited Finland, Denmark, Estonia, UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Luxemburg, Holland, Lichtenstein, Switzerland, Austria, Czech Republic, Poland, South Africa, USA, India, China, Singapore, Japan, S. Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil and yes even Russia! As I didn't know a permit was needed there I didn't inform the authorities. Next time I may leave it at home. Today, it seems that a GPS is not uncommon, in particular as a car mounted attachment.

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Also, there shouldn't be any problem getting your GPSr on board an aircraft.  I carry mine on and even use it while in flight to see what our path, altitude, ground speed, etc. is.

I'm curious on this: do you ask the airline first or just go ahead and use it in-flight? I've just been on a short trip, 2 airlines: one said NO WAY, the other said Fine! ...and even wanted to compare my readings with the flightdeck :D

I just pull it out of my carry-on and use it. I remember seeing something somewhere that mentioned it as "approved" electronics for cruising phase. I've never been questioned by the attendants and it's not like I keep it a secret. One time, when I had the window and aisle seat to myself, I had an elaborate pillow/blanket setup that kept it high enough off of the tray and close enough to the window to see enough sky to keep a lock.

 

If they were to tell me to put it away, I'd probably question it, but I'd still do it so that I don't become an evening news story. I'm sure there's already an FBI file with my name on it somewhere ( a - flew out of Boston only hours before 9/11/01; b - used the Madrid train station to get to the airport only a day or so before the March bombing; c - 2nd generation Lebanese; d - extensive GPS knowledge; e - good with computers/programming).

 

:D

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I used to bring out my Garmin GPS II+ on commercial aircraft pretty much every trip. never had a problem, although once a stewardess took it to get it approved by the pilot, who sent it back with a note containing the waypoints for the flight :D

 

I always flew AA in the US, if that matters.

 

I plan to do come caching in Italy when I am there in October, so I'll have the GPS II+ and my etrex with me.

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