Has anyone ever been refused entry to a country?

Travel Forums Asia Has anyone ever been refused entry to a country?

1. Posted by aus89 (Budding Member 32 posts) 3y Star this if you like it!

Has anyone ever been refused entry to a country for a trivial reason?

What did you do?

I have never had a problem while traveling in the past, but some countries seem to have a lot of rules. Could a person overlook a trivial thing and be refused entry?

2. Posted by berner256 (Moderator 1407 posts) 3y Star this if you like it!

I have never been refused entry into a country. However, on my last trip overseas, I was detained by Gabon immigration officials, even though I had a valid five-year multiple-entry visa and documents showing that I had arranged travel in that country for tourism. I was escorted to an office and questioned repeatedly about my intentions for visiting Gabon and my profession (retired). I also was questioned about my age (people tell me I look younger than I am). Luckily, I had the phone number of my guide, who was waiting for me at the airport; and I told the officials to call him. They did, and he came in and vouched for me. I was then escorted to another office where my passport was stamped. A day later, my travel companion from Germany was similarly detained. We don't know why we were singled out, except to note that there are tensions in Gabon, which recently had an election.

It's important to keep calm (don't argue, don't raise your voice), answer all questions succinctly; and never volunteer information that's not asked for. Be pleasant and self-assured.

In countries with police/gendarmerie/army checkpoints, always have your passport and important travel documents handy. You'll need to produce them quickly. Be pleasant and answer all questions succinctly. I used to open my passport to the relevant visa page; but I no longer do. Now I simply present the passport; and the official has to leaf through the 100 pages. Many times they don't want to, or they just look at a few and hand it back.

[ Edit: Edited on 05-Feb-2017, at 04:52 by berner256 ]

3. Posted by karazyal (Travel Guru 2643 posts) 3y Star this if you like it!

Safeguard your passport! Don't let it get wet, don't mangle or damage it and definitely don't tear out any pages! This idiot below was denied entrance to Thailand.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3440825/British-tourist-refused-entry-Thailand-ripping-pages-passport-use-toilet-paper-bit-drunk.html

Some countries may require "Proof of Onward Travel" if you intend to enter with a one way flight. This usually means having a flight out within a certain amount of time. Depends on the country. I have come across this requirement for the Philippines and for Thailand. This may be enforced at your home departure country! Google search this "P.O.O.T." requirement.

Back in the "old days" some countries would take a closer look for people who looked like hippies or dopers. Singapore was one of these countries. Being drunk and appearing "out of it" might get you some special attention too.

Don't give the flight attendants and even the ticket agents at the airport any crap. Why bring special attention to yourself that may affect you later. No crap to the security guys checking your bags. Never kid about having a bomb to anyone! You could be singled out for special inspections and review! Your check in bag could be removed from the hold for inspection. They won't hold a plane for you!

Good luck.

4. Posted by berner256 (Moderator 1407 posts) 3y Star this if you like it!

Yes, if you're traveling to the Philippines, you're likely to be asked for proof of onward travel. There are signs at immigration disclosing this as well.

Some airlines also require proof of onward travel, as they don't want to return you to wherever you are flying from. That's one reason why I advise those who are traveling around the world to think one or two steps ahead of where they are going so they can be prepared to meet entry requirements, among other things.

P.S. It's important to check and recheck entry requirements as they can, and do, change.

[ Edit: Edited on 05-Feb-2017, at 06:01 by berner256 ]

5. Posted by OldPro (Inactive 400 posts) 3y Star this if you like it!

You can be refused entry to any country for no reason other than the Immigration Officer 'suspecting' your intentions. Entry into any country is not a given, it is always in question whenever you travel even though we tend to think of it as a given. You could fly to a popular tourist destination where thousands enter every day without a problem and yet you are refused entry.

Very often, if you look up the actual Immigration regulations, what you find is a line that says something like, 'satisfy an Immigration officer of your intentions'. That is the actual wording for Canadian Immigration for example. A seemingly simple sentence and yet it gives the Immigration Officer absolute power to deny anyone for any reason or no reason at all. 'His behaviour is suspicious, I think his intentions are questionable, I don't believe he is just coming to be a tourist.' Entry denied.

So the simple answer to your question is yes, you could overlook a trivial thing and be refused entry. I don't know what knowing that answer will do for you however.

On a side note, regarding 'proof of onward travel', often that requirement is demanded by the airline rather than by the country you are flying to. In other words, it is not a strict requirement of the Immigration laws of a country but rather a requirement of the airline to 'cover their ass'. The airlines can be fined if you are denied entry and they have to fly you back to where you departed from and then try to collect the money from you for that flight back. So the airline tells you, 'you need proof of onward travel' and often say it is an Immigration requirement when in fact it is not. For example, ask any airline if you need 'proof of onward travel' to fly to Canada and chances are they will say you do when in fact Canadian Immigration do not require it. So in fact, the airlines lie about it.

Here is an example of what happens when the airline check-in person puts your info into the computer if you are from the UK let's say and have a one way ticket to Canada. They enter your departure/arrival and nationality info into IATA's Timatic form and up comes this page:
https://www.skyteam.com/en/flights-and-destinations/visa-and-health/

The line they look at is the one that says, "Visitors not holding a return/onward ticket could be refused entry."

Note, it does not say 'will' be refused entry, only 'could' be refused entry. Now compare that to the same person travelling to the USA.
https://www.skyteam.com/en/flights-and-destinations/visa-and-health/

The line there says, "must hold a return/onward ticket."

The airlines however will tell you that you 'must' have a return/onward ticket to visit Canada. Whenever it says 'could' (which is pretty much every country), they read 'must'.

This is a pet peeve of mine since I have often travelled on one way tickets with no booked travel beyond that point. The airlines do what is best for them while at the same time blaming others (Immigration).

I have challenged check-in agents on this quite a few times. Usually, it means a supervisor is called who then tries to tell me that I must have a return/onward ticket and usually tries to tell me it is required by Immigration of the country I want to fly to. When I tell them that I know it is not a requirement of Immigration and that I know they are looking at the Timatic page where it says 'could' rather than 'must', they usually admit I am right and that it is their airline's requirement, not an Immigration requirement. I then explain my travel plans are flexible and it is not practical for me to provide proof of onward travel and ask them to use their discretion to allow me to board. Often, that's all I need to do. But as Berner256 says, I stay calm, don't raise my voice and make simple statements.

If you want to travel on a one way ticket, check the Timatic site for yourself, do not listen to others. If it says 'could' be denied rather than, 'must hold a return/onward', you can then decide what you want to do.

6. Posted by berner256 (Moderator 1407 posts) 3y Star this if you like it!

This is an interconnected world; and when I input my passport into the Global Entry kiosk when I return to the United States, the computer already knows what flight I was on; and where travel commenced. It asks me to confirm the information for reentry into the U.S. So on my recent trip to Central Africa, it already knew that I began travel from Libreville, Gabon, stopped over at Paris Charles de Gaulle before arriving in Atlanta.

See this link for further discussion: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/travel-safety-security-222/

7. Posted by Borisborough (Moderator 1546 posts) 3y Star this if you like it!

In 2000, we traveled as a family from the UK to Australia via Hong Kong. My son who was 11 at the time was traveling as a named child on my passport. Before leaving the UK, we had our travel agent (from whom we bought the air tickets) arrange for electronic visas for entry to Australia. We boarded the Cathy Pacific plane in Hong Kong without a problem and disembarked a few hours later at Cairns.

At immigration we were told that my two in-laws, my wife and I were all fine for entry but that my son didn't have a visa. My son was in tears thinking that he'd be sent back but the immigration officer was fine and after a thirty minute delay, we were all allowed into Australia. However, we were told that Cathy Pacific would be fined over AUD2000 for allowing a passenger to travel without a visa.

On the subject of immigration requiring proof of onward travel, that happens at land borders as well as airports. So far, an electronic ticket showing that we have a plane ticket from somewhere back to New Zealand has been sufficient - immigration officials in South America, Africa and Asia haven't been bothered that we haven't got a ticket out of any particular country so long as we have proof that we eventually intend returning home from somewhere.

8. Posted by OldPro (Inactive 400 posts) 3y Star this if you like it!

Yes, where proof is actually required by Immigration (not just the airline), usually anything showing you intend to be somewhere else in the near future is enough to satisfy Immigration Borisborough.

For most people the issue never comes up as they have a return ticket from their 2 week vacation. Where it becomes a real issue is for the longer term traveller who plans to visit several countries before returning home and particularly if they have no fixed itinerary they intend to follow. I have travelled many times under those type of circumstances.

What's important for someone planning longer term travel with no fixed plans, is to know to check on whether it is Immigration that requires proof or just the airline covering their ass. If it is just the airline, you have options. You can ask them to waive their requirement as it is not an Immigration requirement or you can try another airline or you can book a fully refundable onward ticket with them and then immediately take that ticket to the airline check-in desk on arrival at your destination and ask them to cancel the ticket and refund your credit card.

Think about that last one. If I arrive at the airport with a one way ticket and the airline refuses to board me without 'proof of onward travel', I do not change my ticket to a return ticket or try to provide any other kind of proof. If I can't get them to let me board, I simply ask them to sell me a one way ticket from that destination to somewhere else on a date 2 weeks later. A fully refundable ticket. I pay with a credit card and off I go. X hours later, having arrived at my destination and gone through Immigration, I go to the airline check-in, get the ticket cancelled or/and a refund put on my credit card.

The transaction may just be cancelled as it has not actually gone through yet (it has only been a few hours remember). If it has gone through and cannot just be cancelled, then a refund should go through in a day or two. If it is an 'iffy' airline, I do not wait for them to put the refund through if I don't trust them. I call Visa/Mastercard and tell them to cancel the initial transaction. The process to cancel will vary depending on the relevant laws in the country of your card issuer.

This to me is what makes the whole 'proof of onward travel' a joke. First, even having a return/onward ticket does not guarantee you entry to a country. You can have one and the Immigration Officer may still question your intent. You fail to 'satisfy an Immigration Officer of your intentions.' They can deny you entry regardless of having a return ticket.

Second, it is easy to buy a ticket and then cancel it after you have entered the country. What do you think those intending to work illegally (which is who they are really trying to stop entering the country) do? They all have return tickets.

Unfortunately, we now live in a world where illegal workers and security concerns mean that restrictions are becoming more and more prevalent for all travellers. Anyone can innocently forget to 'cross the t or dot the i' in any of dozens of ways and be denied entry to a country. At the same time, even the rules imposed to try and stop those with bad intentions, aren't really able to do that. They often just inconvenience the ordinary traveller. We punish all because we want to try and catch the few. Does that remind you of anyone trying to keep out a few bad apples by banning everyone from entering their country?

[ Edit: Edited on 06-Feb-2017, at 10:42 by OldPro ]