Back in The Village again

9 March 2009 by Mike Gogulski
Posted in diary | 42 Comments »

I just returned from the Slovak Aliens’ Police office, where I received my freshly-minted 1954 Convention Travel Document (cestovný doklad osoby bez štátnej príslušnosti).

I also submitted an application there for issuance of a replacement sticker for my residence permit, which I’ll have to pick up there in a couple of weeks.

Slovakia stateless person's 1954 Convention Travel Document, cover

Slovakia stateless person's 1954 Convention Travel Document, cover

So, I’m now an officially-documented stateless person. I’m also once again officially a human being, at least as far as concerns those annoying institutions like banks, government offices and so on, which treat people like they don’t exist if they don’t have currently-valid state identity papers.

Surprising to me, my new Proof of Humanity actually does have information and the Slovak national regalia on the front cover.

Some interesting text, verbatim from the English version, from page 33:

The holder of travel document under the Convention of 28 September 1954 is an alien with legal status of a person without state citizenship, who was granted a permission for permanent residence in the territory of the Slovak Republic. He/she is under protection of the Slovak Republic. All whom it may concern are hereby requested to afford the holder of this travel document all necessary aid and protection according to international law.

And the data page

And the data page

Oooooh, protection!

Some typical translation errors there with regard to the use of articles. Neat conflict, too, between what this document says and what my visa says. I’m actually here on a temporary residence permit, not permanent.

In any case, coming back from bureaucroland I couldn’t get Iron Maiden’s old track “Back in The Village” out of my head.

Welcome back to The Village, Number Six.

(Updated: linked to full-resolution images)

Iron Maiden, “Back in the Village”, Powerslave, 1984.

Turn the spotlights on the people,
Switch the dial and eat the worm.
Take your chances, kill the engine,
Drop your bombs and let it burn.

White flags shot to ribbons,
The truce is black and burned,
Shellshock in the kitchen,
Tables overturned.

Back in the village again,
In the village.
I’m back in the village again.

Throwing dice now, rolling loaded,
I see sixes all the way.
In a black hole, and I’m spinning
As my wings get shot away.

Questions are a burden,
And answers are a prison for oneself,
Shellshock in the kitchen,
Tables start to burn.


No breaks on the inside,
Paper cats and burning barns,
There’s a fox among the chickens,
And a killer in the hounds.



But still we walk into the valley,
And others try to kill the inner flame,
We’re burning brighter than before,
I don’t have a number, I’M A NAME!


Back in the village,
And I’m back in the village,
And I’m back in the village, again

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  1. 42 Responses to “Back in The Village again”

  2. By Sunni on 9 March 2009

    Interesting. As an aside, I never was a fan of Iron Maiden, dunno why (maybe my brother, who was my supplier, wasn’t a fan) … methinkest it’s time to remedy that.

  3. By Darian W on 9 March 2009

    For your audio visual enjoyment

  4. By Mike Gogulski on 9 March 2009

    @Sunni: You’ve perhaps seen the most freedom-oriented Maiden stuff here already, though there is more. Still, see if you can get the snolfs to dance to it 🙂

    @Darian: Excellent! Now, this is the song that should have been going through my head, though the later track was a fit, too. Cheers 🙂

  5. By Stephanie on 10 March 2009

    Perhaps you don’t need the reissuance of the temporary residence permit now that you have a document that says you’re a permanent resident. At any rate, congrats on being back on the radar and officially accepted by the Slovak gov’t and, therefore, the EU. You’ve come out the other side successfully.

  6. By Mike Gogulski on 10 March 2009

    @Stephanie: I’m not convinced this was any big win, really. Saying “fuck it” to US citizenship was the point. This is now just a survival measure, and something I wouldn’t engage in at all if I didn’t feel the risks of not doing so were so high. Meh.

  7. By alex on 11 March 2009

    excellent. thanks for the pictures.

    a few things i notice:

    a. valid for only 15 months?! why is that? is that when your temporary residency expires? i hope the thing is not too expensive if it has such short validity.

    b. what i find hilarious is that the document type “PA” actually stands for passport. at any rate it does not stand for “titre de voyage”. i think most countries use “P” for passport, i know switzerland uses “PA” for their non-biometric passports. wonder what they use for travel documents.

    c. it is hilarious that they could not be bothered to have a proper translation into english in there. is there a french text as well?

    d. phoenix instead phoenix, united states (in slovak) is weird.

    e. that’s it.

  8. By alex on 11 March 2009

    i forgot: i hope there are many pages for visas if you intend to travel outside of the EU/Schengen!

  9. By liv on 11 March 2009

    That’s so cool… I’m jealous…

    Although I’m not sure I know a whole lot of where you’re living…

    Taking that sort of giant leap deserves a “well done.”

  10. By Mike Gogulski on 11 March 2009

    @Alex: yes, it’s co-terminous with my visa expiration. However, the passport’s validity can be extended via notations and stamps on the inside. Yes, there’s French text, but I can’t judge the translation quality there. Probably this is one of very few such documents issued by Slovakia. Yes, Phoenix without the country is odd! And it has the standard number of pages, 34 I think.

    @Liv: Thanks! Slovakia’s no stranger than Greensboro 😉

  11. By alex on 12 March 2009

    there is no standard in passport page numbers as far as i know. usa has few, countries like singapore many more.

    give me the french please. i wanna judge it!


  12. By Nemam.Ani.Na.Kavu on 12 March 2009

    Cool, thanks for posting the photos.
    How does it work, if you would like to visit a country that did not sign the convention? Are there any potential complications?

    Čo Ťa priviedlo práve na Slovensko, ak sa smiem spýtať?

  13. By Seth on 12 March 2009

    I think it’s great that the city of Phoenix is listed w/out a corresponding state mafia territory designator. I look foward to the day when “countries” and “states” no longer exist nor enjoy the grip on the publics mind that they seem to at present.

  14. By Mike Gogulski on 13 March 2009

    @Alex: Okay, at some point 🙂

    @Nemam: As far as I know, this is accepted anywhere as an official identity/travel document, regardless of whether or not the country is party to the treaty. However, I now no longer am covered by any visa reciprocity regime, so traveling anywhere outside the Schengen zone will require me to obtain a visa in advance. Myslím si, že mám odpoveď na Tvoju otázku tu:

    @Seth: Hey, that is cool! Good eye, sir!

  15. By alex on 20 March 2009

    k. thanks. =)

  16. By Libby Snipp on 11 May 2009

    This is very interesting.

    What would happen if you apply for a visa to travel to the so-called US and/or other countries outside the Schengen zone? Would you be willing to try it?

    I look forward to learning more from your experiences!

  17. By Mike Gogulski on 11 May 2009

    As far as I know, I would need to go through the most-restrictive visa application rigamarole. Haven’t done that yet, and don’t really have a plan or need to do so in the immediate future.

    At least applying for a visa to visit the US would be quite an event. I would expect it to be denied, though going through the process could lead to an interesting series of blog postings 🙂

  18. By Name1 on 15 June 2009

    Are you going to apply for a Permanent Residence Permit in Slovkia?

    The traveler’s document may not provide for Visa Free outside the Schengen, but your Temporary/Permanent Slovak Residence sticker may allow you access to other international countries. Also, there are some ‘Visa on Arrival’ countries to travel to in the world.

    Partial List?

    The countries allowing travel based on your EU Residence Permit could be more interesting tho. 😉

  19. By manuel salta on 28 July 2009


    (stateless person)

    dear mr gpgulski myfren,

    good afternoon! i have seen your SLOVAK REPUBLIC TRAVEL DOCUMENT & IDENTIFICATION will you please kindly send me the contact email address and the websites of the foreign affairs department in slovac republic were your travel documents issued? be informed that i am also a “stateless person” together with my childrens. i am a World Service Authority Passport holder, issued at WSA-tokyo office, japan. but my WSA Passport do not want to recognized by the united states government & other foreign embassy’s here in the philippines. it is a great pleasure if you can help me to acquire said Slovac Republic Travel Documents for stateless person/s, like me. heres my direct email address just in case you read this: thank you very very much. hope to hear from you soon myfren Michael Gogulski. MANSALTA

  20. By Mike Gogulski on 28 July 2009

    Manuel, see for the Interior Ministry’s Aliens’ Police division, and to send them an email.

    Warning, it’s all in Slovak!

  21. By Sean on 4 November 2009

    Shouldn’t you wait until you get citizenship in
    another country before you renounce your own?
    I’d imagine it would make things easier.

  22. By Mike Gogulski on 4 November 2009

    @Sean: Perhaps it would have, but it’s done. And, by certain measures, life is pretty hard regardless.

  23. By Subversive Uncle Frank on 27 February 2010

    It may be your actual experience that you would have to go through the hardest visa process to travel to the U.S., but the U.S. is a signer to the human rights declaration.

    It includes the right to return to your country and there is no “except if you renounced citizenship.”

    In addition, the U.S. Supreme court has specifically ruled that renouncing your citizenship does not in any way affect your right to enter the U.S., remain in the U.S. or seek gainful employment.

    If you want to give it a try, I wouldn’t apply for a visa. I would take your cancelled passport, your new travel document, your certificate of loss of nationality and your birth certificate and simply go.

    Once immigration reads their own regulations, they should allow you to enter.

  24. By Jessica Sideways on 7 April 2010

    Oooh, protection. Does that mean they will hire bodyguards for you? How’d you swing that? ;-P

    @Uncle: Yeah, we’ll see about that, especially if I return to the United States of Jesusland with a nationality and passport under the VWPP.

  25. By Anonymous on 24 April 2010

    Good on you, Mike. What’s funny is that I’ve just applied for US citizenship (I’m an asylee in the US) because I’m tired of the travel document (which is woefully expensive here- almost $400 for a document that lasts a year!). I would love some of your courage and conviction. Maybe someday…

  26. By TheOneLaw on 17 May 2010

    Alternative travel documents are available
    for those who meet the requirements.
    Ask around, if you are interested.

    It is never the end of the world,
    merely an utterly difficult situation.

  27. By majd on 7 April 2011

    hi there
    i just got my stateless travel document as well!
    mine is issued by belgium but it looks almost the same as yours 🙂
    did u travel outside EU yet?
    any idea whether i could travel to any non-EU countries without a visa? so based on my belgian perminent resident

  28. By majd on 7 April 2011

    i mean based on my belgian residence permit 🙂

  29. By Bailong on 29 May 2011

    Mike or any other informed person,

    I am a US citizen and my wife was born a citizen of PR China. We met and eventually married while I was working in China. We moved to the States a few years later. While living there she obtained citizenship (against my advice). Now I have been sent back to China to work and she is trying to get her US employer to sponsor her Chinese Resident/Work visa here in China so she can continue working for said employer. She is having problems getting these documents and has considered renouncing her US citizenship in order to avoid the need for such a document.

    My question now is, if she renouces her citizenship will she be able to obtain a visa to visit the US (work, family vists, etc..) or will she barred from entering the US?

    Any advice will be greatly appreciated.


  30. By Mike Gogulski on 29 May 2011

    Hello Bai,

    No, I do not think that should would be banned, but she would definitely have to obtain a visa to visit the US as a holder of a PRC passport only. However, one might think that having renounced one’s US citizenship in the past might put one on a list of “persons of interest” for extra border screening, at the very least.

  31. By Patrick on 31 May 2011

    No CAPITAL letters. Nice! You’re recognized as human being. 🙂

  32. By Dianna Cave on 22 June 2012

    What did you have to do to obtain it? Was it difficult? Would you recommend obtaining a World Passport in the meantime?

  33. By Jessica Sideways on 22 June 2012

    Honestly, the World Passport would be just as convincing to border control agents as a regional driver’s license or a note in crayon that says your name and “I am not a carrotist terrorist”.

    I know how you feel though, I get discouraged every time I see how long it’ll take for Passport Canada to administer a stateless person’s travel document/certificate of identity but I still plan on doing that once I set foot in Canada as a permanent resident.

  34. By Dianna Cave on 23 June 2012

    I must admit that I think that World Passports, World Service Authority are interesting concepts but I’d be concerned about Department of Homeland Security seizing it as I live in European Union despite it not being illegal to own a World Passport within European Union. I think that it’s also important that I would and do retain ownership of it too; World Service Authority merely issues it.

  35. By Ricky on 16 April 2013

    Hey Michael,

    I saw your interview with RT and that brought me here. I think you were in Berlin. Do you have the same right to work and reside in other EU states as EU citizens have (indefinitely), or are you limited in how much time you can remain outside Slovakia? I’m very curious about that. Thanks.

  36. By Mike Gogulski on 2 May 2013

    Hi Ricky,

    Please, it’s Mike 🙂

    My “right” to work, I guess, is tied to my residency, so if I wanted to take employment in a different Schengen country I would have to officially relocate there. But then, I don’t plan to ever have a “job” like that again. Meanwhile, with my Slovak sole-trader license plus residency, I can do business throughout the Schengen area without restriction (I think).

  37. By Max on 29 September 2013

    Hi Michael,

    Just curious about your status these days. Have you been renewing your travel document every year or something? Best of luck.


  38. By Mike Gogulski on 29 September 2013

    @Max: Basically yes. This last time I was able to get one valid for two years. Which is silly since my residence permit is now for 10 years.

  39. By Max on 29 September 2013

    Is that the maximum validity? 2 years? In the US, it’s 1, and as an asylee there, it was frustrating getting a travel document valid for a year that took 6 months or more to issue.

  40. By George on 26 February 2014

    Hi mike I want to say wow you are brave for what you did. I have been thinking about doing the same thing for 3 years now. I am tired of the US governments crap & stuff. I was hoping would you offer any advice for me? My current choice is either Sweden or Finland if I get into university first. Thank you

  41. By George on 26 February 2014

    Almost forgot how long does that usually last if you first get it??

  42. By Jason on 11 September 2014

    Will be officially taking the Oath of Renunciation today at the US Embassy in Prague.

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