Related to this question, which deals with the no-papers visitors.

However, in my case, instead of a character with no paperwork whatsoever -- we're dealing with someone from an alternate reality who has some form of identification or travel documentation from their native reality; this could take the form of a diplomatic letter bearing the official seal of the character's people, or whatever E.T.'s version of a passport is.

How would they use their native documentation to obtain a legal set of identity and travel documents for our reality? Assume that:

  • Their alien documentation is genuine.
  • They have no powerful, all-purpose magic/technology to circumvent this with.
  • They are of age of majority where they are from.
  • They have no means of returning to their alternate reality, or contacting anyone in it, and nor does anyone seeking to authenticate their papers.
  • They can reveal that they are from an alternate reality/alien planet/... if needed, but would prefer to not become a tabloid sensation for it -- they want to live a reasonably normal life in our world, even if they have alien features or are an actual extraterrestrial.
  • They may or may not speak the local language of where they got stuck, but can figure out some means of communicating with us humans given enough time.
  • $\begingroup$ Can someone explain the downvote please? I really have nothing to go off of to improve this question right now... $\endgroup$
    – Shalvenay
    Feb 2 '16 at 3:35
  • $\begingroup$ If he has a passport, does that mean he'd be teleported with his suitcase full of stuff for his vacation? Where was he teleported from and to? $\endgroup$ Feb 2 '16 at 4:18
  • $\begingroup$ I'm shocked nobody mentioned Dr. Who and his psychic paper work... $\endgroup$
    – The Nate
    Feb 9 '16 at 5:53

Many aspects come down to an "it depends". For instance:

What are the circumstances of their arrival?

Did they arrive on Earth by way of a freak accident? Or were they deliberately sent? For instance, as an ambassador to our reality, or maybe as an 'astronaut' who's testing out a new technology? Or is hopping into an alternative reality just how their people take vacations?

The more deliberate their arrival, the more opportunity there was for forethought, and the more likely it will be that they'll have something in their pocket that's tailor-made to prove their identity (or at least, their alienness). For instance, an astronaut/experimental scientist is likely to have a recording that documents their entire journey. Someone being intentionally sent as an ambassador will have whatever their best scientists (and/or politicians) think will be most convincing (and if they've done this sort of thing before, they probably have a good idea of what's most convincing).

Someone transported by accident will have the hardest time, as they'll only have whatever items were on them at the time of the accident. So essentially, whatever a person might typically have in their pockets. Maybe the alien version of a smartphone is unquestionably more advanced than what people carry around on Earth (and hopefully never requires a recharge)?

Are we talking alternate-reality humans, or aliens?

An alien life-form has an advantage in that it can easily prove that it's not just another undocumented/fraudulently documented human being, by virtue of its alien physiology. It can reveal this at the appropriate time/to the appropriate people to prove its identity as a bonafide alien visitor.

A human from an alternate reality would have a more difficult time, as our border officials already have to deal with unknown humans possessing no or strange documentation. There are procedures in place for that already, and if your traveler can't produce compelling evidence of their alien status then those procedures will likely be followed. They'll be detained, interrogated, and ultimately deported to wherever the border officials think they came from (or else held indefinitely/possibly shipped off to an insane asylum if instead of saying where they came from they keep insisting that they're an alien visitor). Their human biology works against them.

Where are they arriving?

Does your traveler materialize in the middle of the customs line at LAX, where people are standing by and prepared to deal with (and question/scrutinize) new arrivals from foreign lands? Or do they arrive in the middle of a field somewhere, where nobody is going to see and nobody is going to go asking after their papers until they try to do something that would require them? Is their arrival caught on film, providing evidence that they basically appeared out of thin air?

Similarly, it can also make a difference if they arrive in a nation with strict immigration/border protection policies such as the U.S., as opposed to a more relaxed nation like Fiji or Samoa or similar small island nation with a cultural history of inclusiveness. The former is likely to present them with more hurdles than the latter.


How would they use their native documentation to obtain a legal set of identity and travel documents for our reality?

I don't think they do, unless the native documents have some intrinsic value in terms of proving their status as an alien traveler. As in, they don't just say "John is a citizen of Reality 123Q", but they say it using a method or technology that's so outlandish or advanced from what's being used anywhere on Earth that it lends credence to their story about being from Reality 123Q.

Apart from that one use (and perhaps sentimental value), their native documents are worthless. They can't use them to go back home. And nobody on Earth can authenticate them, because nobody on Earth can get in contact with the issuer to determine what the authentication procedure actually is. It doesn't matter if they're genuine or not, because nobody can tell the difference anyways. The documents are only useful to the extent that they're alien enough to lend prima facie support to the traveler's claims of being from an alternate reality.

Essentially they're down to this:

They can reveal that they are from an alternate reality/alien planet/... if needed

They'll need to make that revelation, at least to one person with enough power or connections within the relevant government bureaucracy to get some local documents for them. If they're unable to do so convincingly, then at best they'll be dismissed/ignored and at worst they'll be subjected to all sorts of scrutiny (and probably also involuntary detention) that they do not want. It pays to befriend this person first to help mitigate the possibility of those negative outcomes.

An alternative would be to seek out forged local documents on the local black market. I tend to think that this is what the savvy cross-dimensional traveler might do, especially if they want to keep a low profile (which they might unless they've been sent as an ambassador). It's much lower risk, especially if they don't have a clear way of proving their alien status (such as an alien physiology). And then it's just a question of how good their forged documents are, and whether or not it's possible for illegal aliens in their locale to gain amnesty with a path to legitimate citizenship. If that path is available, it's probably the safest one to walk.

  • $\begingroup$ Imagine an alien being zapped into the middle of a tribe in the Amazon. Talk about culture shock. $\endgroup$ Feb 2 '16 at 4:15

Since this alternate reality has no interaction with ours (besides the occasional unfortunate individual falling through the reality gap with their passport), the real effect is essentially null. A document, driver's licence, credit card or any other document from the other reality will have about as much validity in this reality as a children's crayon drawing of a driver's licence.

There is, after all, no authority to validate it, no means of comparing it to other documents to ascertain if it is genuine or a forgery (interesting meta concept: a criminal from your domain arrives carrying forged documents...) and if it is a financial document, no means of accessing the value it supposedly represents. This is true if it is money, bearer bonds or something like land deeds or gold certificates.

The individual might be able to access some sort of value from the documentation if they can prove they are from another reality (perhaps their biochemistry uses left handed sugars, for example, and this is discovered and acted upon before they starve to death). In that case, the documentation might become valuable collectors items and can be auctioned off for large amounts of cash. In the worst case, the individual has no reliable means of proving they are from another reality, and clings to the documentation, which nearly gives our psychologists ammunition to "prove" they are delusional and need to be institutionalized.

So for all practical purposes, documentation from alternate realities will have no effect for the unfortunate individual stuck in our realty.


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