Lonely Planet Writer

How a damaged passport could cost you a holiday in paradise

For frequent international travellers, passports get a lot of love…and wear and tear. For many, a slightly dog-eared travelling document is a badge of honour. One country, however, is cracking down on passports with even the slightest of imperfections.

Damaged or just well-worn? That might depend on who you talk to. Photo by Frederick Bass

Indonesia has tightened up entry restrictions on damaged passports, as part of a wider initiative to stop illegal immigration. However, it’s not clear exactly what constitutes an acceptable level of wear and tear and, instead, they’re leaving it to the airlines to enforce. If border agents in Indonesia deem the passport to be of unacceptable quality, the airline will be fined A$5000, which has led them to be very cautious in allowing people to board.

A few high profile cases have hit the headlines in recent months. First was a British couple in October who were refused entry for their honeymoon after their dog had chewed the man’s passport. While UK border agents assured them it would be fine as all the details were intact, they were forced to return to London.

Airlines are forced to be extra cautious with the new restrictions. Photo by Image Source

Earlier this week, an Australian teenager flew to Bali but was refused entry because of slight damage to the spine of the passport which had gone unnoticed. Her family theorised it could have happened from using e-ticket machines.

While the law applies to all international arrivals to Indonesia, Australian travellers have been hit most heavily with more than 20 reports of passengers being denied boarding since before Christmas. More than a million Aussies alone visited Bali in 2018.

A damaged passport could cost you a holiday here. Photo by Fredi Daeli/Shutterstock

In the wake of the spate of refusals, it’s worthwhile having a thorough check of your passport before travelling anywhere, especially to Indonesia. Generally, wear and tear are ok once all the personal details and data are clear and legible and there is no water damage. If you’re unsure, you’re advised to check your local passport office for further help.