As a Caymanian I recently travelled to Jamaica using my British passport on which I encountered resistance as I attempted to check in at the Cayman Airways counter in Kingston. The supervisor immediately asked that I show proof of residency in Cayman in order to board as I have no stamp in the passport to prove that I am a legal resident. I showed my driver’s licence, government ID and voting ID to him, which he said was not proof enough, and explained that there were no issues on previous trips. At this point I was really upset!
He informed me that all Caymanians that travel to Jamaica use two passports, and said I must produce a Cayman passport or show proof of residency or I would not be able to board. I was finally given my boarding pass after calling Immigration in Cayman and being told I would be updated on arrival.
I would like to know if this a normal procedure that I must travel with both passports (CI and British) to Jamaica or must I have this stamp in my passport to show? I assumed a legit passport is enough to travel. What if I produced say, an American passport, would it have been the same line of questioning?”
Auntie’s answer: I approached Cayman Airways to get their take on the situation you faced. I received a response from Fabian Whorms, the airline’s CEO, within 24 hours, and first I want to acknowledge his speedy and comprehensive answer.
Too often I have had to contact people numerous times over lengthy periods and still not been able to get an answer, which I have on occasion noted. (I don’t call out those people as frequently as I could because I figure nobody would be interested in all that complaining.)
Anyway, that is the reason why I want to thank Mr Whorns for getting back to me so quickly this time and for previous questions.
Now to answer your query. The request for you to produce proof of residency in Cayman, is to comply with Department of Immigration (DOI) rules requiring Cayman Airways (and other airlines dealing with returning passengers) that the ticket holder is legally able to “land” here, Mr Whorms explained.
If, for example, you held a British Overseas Territories Citizen (Cayman Islands) passport, that would show you were allowed to travel to Cayman without restriction. In comparison, passengers with other passports would need to demonstrate proof of residency here (by the stamp in the passport that the reader referenced) to be considered a legal resident.
A driver’s licence or government ID do not do the trick since they do not confirm current residency, so airline check-in staff will look for official immigration documentation.
“When travelling to Cayman, the passenger must be either a legal visitor or a legal resident. Airlines have to determine which applies to the passenger, in order to ensure that the various immigration requirements are met,” Mr Whorms said, adding, “It therefore goes without saying, that providing proof of residency in the Cayman Islands would be necessary to determine whether or not the passenger is a visitor”.
On the Entry and Landing Requirements page on the DOI website, it says, “Every person arriving in the Cayman Islands is required to produce for inspection by an immigration officer a passport or some other valid document establishing their identity and nationality or place of permanent residence.”
One final legal point: Section 86(3) of the Customs and Border Control Law, 2018, put very simply, says that it is the duty of a captain of a vessel (which is defined as including both a ship and an aircraft), to ensure passengers are landing with the required documents.
I once faced the same issue as the reader described (and one time was quite enough as I agree it was a very stressful experience) when checking in for an American Airlines flight back to Cayman and I believe this requirement is strictly enforced, though I cannot say why you were not asked to provide proof of residency on previous trips.
To avoid this in the future, Mr Whorms noted that it is best for passengers who have Cayman passports to use those as their “primary travel document” when returning, which may mean you have to carry two passports if you used the other one for the outbound trip; for example, if you also have a US passport and you were travelling to that country.
In addition, he noted, “For residents of the Cayman Islands who travel exclusively on a foreign passport, they will be required to provide proof of their residency status in Cayman and it is therefore best for them to ensure they have an official stamp of such residency” in that passport.
Sounds like good advice.
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