How to enter the American Consulate in Frankfurt

59 posts in this topic

So I wanted to go to the American Consulate today. All I wanted was some passport photos and they have a photo booth, plus they are less than five minutes walk from my house. "Nice and convenient" I thought, how wrong I was.

 

My first mistake was to take a sports holdall. I had to drop some things off at the dump, so I took the holdall to take these things there. When I got to the consulate (after emptying the bag at the dump) the first thing I saw on the door is that no large bags are allowed. A security lady at the window next to the door said that I could not take the bag in, but that I could possibly take it to the kiosk up the road and they "might" look after it. Something about the way she said "might" said to me that she really meant "probably wont". So I decided to put the empty holdall in the bin outside the consulate, I didn't really want it anyway. I then tried again to enter. This time i was told by the apologetic security lady that I could not take anything electrical inside, I had a mobile and a small mp3 player with me, and that I should go to the kiosk and leave it there. I felt sorry for the lady as I could see she had to go through this routine every day. "OK, so I have to go and leave my valuables at some kiosk" I thought to myself with a sigh. As I was walking away from the window some other security man came out from the building, I asked him where the kiosk was, he said 200 meters up the road. Then as I started to walk there he shouts after me and asks if it is my empty holdall in the bin. I explained that it was and that I didn't want it. He started to seem a bit agressive by this point and told me that there was a 8000euro fine for that kind of thing. What! At this point I didn't want to get in a confrontation as I could probably imagine getting shot if I said anything that rhymed with "bomb", so I just agread and took the holdall with me. But it seemed absolutely ridiculous to me. Is this a law for Germany? does it just apply to holdalls, or is it illegal to put anything in a bin?

 

In the end I gave up and walked back home. I did notice lots of people streaming between the embassy and the kiosk though.

 

I never had this problem at the Chinese or Russian Embassy. In fact, at the Chinese Embassy the security guy seems quite friendly and helpful.

 

So today's lesson is: if you are going to the American consulate then only take the documents you need. Don't take electronics, guns, knives, bags, french fries (unless they are Freedom fries: Oh the irony! although most Americans would never understand irony), Flags, anything. One final peice of advice: do not - under any circumstances - put anything in the bin.

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In Berlin they had lockers at they entrance so when you went through the doors the guards check you and if need be your stuff goes into a locker and you get the key.

For me it was super easy...then again I am American and it is my consulate. :)

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I see things haven't changed despite the new location. It wasn't much better on Siesmeyerstrasse either. I had to leave my PDA with the lady at the bakery in the U-bahn. I can remember the Marine just repeating himself like an automaton: "That device will not enter the building!", every time I tried to ask why the security guard couldn't hold on to it.

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I had to leave my PDA with the lady at the bakery in the U-bahn.

Blackberry crap as distinct from Blueberry krapfen if you will.

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Darkknight, the bag was not that large nor was the fabric that heavy, so when I folded it up and put it in bin it was relatively small. Plus, the security guard looked in it and saw that it was empty.

 

No I am not brain dead (I actually have a PhD in engineering), but thanks for asking.

 

Oh, and they have the only machine that makes photos to the American standards (~5mm larger). Why the American photos have to be different to everyone elses, I don't know.

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They do have a machine, but that's not the only way to get US size pics. You can also just go into one of those photo shops that do CV/Passport photos and tell them you need them sized for American passport. The consulate even has a handy sheet you can print out from their website and take with you with the info, in German.

And if you're in Bornheim, I recommend the shop on Bergerstr. situated roughly across from the Saturn store (cannot recall name). That's where I went...

 

and sorry, but these days when we are all familiar with the realities of increased security measures, I find the fact you are 'surprised' at it not being a simple matter of walking in and getting photos hard to believe. If you do any research at all about the US consulate, you would know right away you cannot take in electronic devices. This is not a new regulation. The sense (or not) of such matters is not the issue here..

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Well, this teaches everyone a very important lesson. Do your research first, especially when a consulate is concerned. All over their website it says that no electronics/bags/anything other than freedom fries are allowed inside. The people you ran into did seem abnormally aggressive, though...

 

However, most of us Toytowners don't actually do our own research and rely on others to do it for us. So thank-you for the update and reminder about Frankfurt...:)

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The irony of not doing any research prior to your visit, the irony that you only live minutes away and could have just as easily walked back left everything there? Oh the irony eh pffff Good luck next time

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One problem with trying to enter an American Embassy or Consulate is that each has a security officer and each seems to make his/her own rules...While they do get guidelines, each decides what can or cannot be carried. For example, even for employees, cell phone with cameras are not permitted in Frankfurt, but they are in Milan. Why? Who knows.

 

Security officers are responsible for the security of their facility, but they also seems to be trained to have tunnel vision..and they are totally risk adverse. Sadly, there is no welcome mat at U.S. Embassies or Consulates anymore.

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I don't think it's just an American thing. I had a similar expereince with the German Consulate in Amsterdam when trying to get a visa a couple years ago. And there was only one photo studio (15 minute walk away in the rain with children) that made the photos I needed for the visa. It's the way it is when dealing with most governments. Sorry, I guess the American bashing just won't hold up this time.

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Let's see, you live "less than five minutes" from the consulate but you complain that they suggest you walk two and a half minutes to leave your electronic devices with a complete stranger at a kiosk.

 

What was your PhD in again?

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WHOAAA! Eeeeeasy everybody, it's getting heated in here.

 

Ok, just to clarify:

To be honest I was not too surprised about not being let in with a bag. But I was surprised that they didn't have any facilities to put it in, or that they coudn't just look in at and see that there was nothing in there. I was surprised that mobile phones and MP3 players aren't allowed in. I was also surprised about the confrontational manner of the security guy.

 

So, the main reason I posted this is so that in future people don't fall into the same trap as me. What if you had to go there and you had a briefcase (containing really expensive stuff or sensitive information) with you, or a backpack with all your stuff in? and you are expected to leave it at a random kiosk up the road. To be honest it doesn't bother me (as I don't live far away) but for someone else it could be a major headache.

 

Finally, I admit that this may also be true for some other embassies as well, not just American ones (though I have been to plenty that aren't this anal).

 

Thanks to Septon, I found the shop you were talking about, cost 10 euro but that was ok as I didn't feel like I was going to get shot.

 

PHD: Spacecraft structural dynamics AKA rocket scientist (smug)

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99% of the folks who go there, arrive by car. So it's generally not a big deal for them to chuck their electronic stuff in the glove compartment. I'm not at all surprised that u can't take electronics as there are any number of ways to use such devices to defeat security. FWIW, most of the rude buttholes pulling security are local nationals unless things have changed recently.

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Don't know about FRA, but the last time I went to the Munich Consulate, the security was done by PONDS,

the same security contractor that does most base security in Europe.

 

 

To be honest I was not too surprised about not being let in with a bag. But I was surprised that they didn't have any facilities to put it in, or that they coudn't just look in at and see that there was nothing in there. I was surprised that mobile phones and MP3 players aren't allowed in.

Perhaps if you had read their website you would have found a list of no-no's / Not brings..

 

 

PHD: Spacecraft structural dynamics AKA rocket scientist (smug)

Didn't help you get into the Bldg now did it. (Even Smugger)

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Perhaps if you had read their website you would have found a list of no-no's / Not brings..

Yeah well I assumed it would be ok as long as I didn't bring a bomb, gun, knife. etc. (It's strange but even as I write this I have a slight fear that I will end up on some US government black list, sad but true) Just like all the other embassies/consulates I have ever visited. Now I have learnt this is not the case, and everyone can learn from me too.

 

 

Didn't help you get into the Bldg now did it. (Even Smugger)

True, LOL.

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I have a slight fear that I will end up on some US government black list, sad but true)

You have a PhD in "Rocket Science"; you're already ON multiple government lists... :ph34r:

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Thanks to Septon, I found the shop you were talking about, cost 10 euro but that was ok as I didn't feel like I was going to get shot.

You’re welcome, glad you got it sorted. And last time I checked, we aren’t the ones who were shooting and killing innocent folk on the tube

(and I'm not being anal...it’s the tired stereotyping tone portraying us Americans as being the only gun-happy and aggressive nation that I find utterly annoying in threads like these, not the simple stating of an experience and sharing of information to others..)

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