Passengers deported, denied boarding to Bali due to slight passport damage

Madelaine Cownie

If you’re a frequent traveler, you might be proud of your dog-eared passport with obvious signs of travel and mileage. 

However, you might want to renew your passport, or ensure to take better care of it, if you are traveling to Bali, Indonesia. 

At least three passengers traveling on different flights to Bali were denied boarding and entry to the country due to small damages on their passports.

Australian traveler Matt Vandenberg was denied entry to Bali, and was deported soon after landing due to a one centimeter-long tear on one of his passport pages. 

Vandenberg shared that he was on his way to Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport (DPS) for a friend’s wedding. Everything seemed fine when he checked in for his June 6, 2023 trip. He went through airport security checks in Australia and boarded his Jetstar flight without any issues. 

However, when the 29-year old traveler arrived in Bali, he found that he could not even leave the airport.

“So I arrived at DPS, paid my visa, presented my passport, and get brought over to the immigration office who alerted me that I have a 1cm tear on my passport page. To be fair, he is correct. I had no idea until he bent it all the way back, and it stood out. You couldn’t see it any other way,” Vandenberg tweeted.

Vandenberg was escorted by airport police, who, he said in a tweet, were the “nicest people you could have stuck by my side,” until he was able to board a flight back to Australia.

Another traveler named Madelaine Cownie was also on her way to DPS airport from Australia, but was informed that she would not be allowed to board the flight due to the condition of her passport.

“Jetstar staff refused to check me in or let me travel with them to Bali, for a rip in my passport. They offered me no assistance or help to change anything and left us over $2000 out of pocket,” Cownie said via a post on a Facebook group. 

Image: Madelaine Cownie 

Emma Doherty, originally from Somerset, England, warned her TikTok followers to take good care of their passports after she was denied boarding at Sydney Airport (SYD) on her way to Bali.

Doherty had a small water damage at the bottom part of her passport profile page, which she said she did not notice, and that she has traveled “all the time” with the same passport and it was never an issue.


just telling myself everything happens for a reason 🙃 trying not to cry right now but whatever i’d rather be stranded in Sydney than detained in a Balinese cell !! #bali #deniedboarding #airportlife #airportfails #travelfails #travel #traveltok #traveltiktok #fyp #storytime #passportdamage #detained #flyingtobali #balitravel #balitrip

♬ original sound – emmafituk_

Doherty said she was told by airline staff in Sydney that she might be “put in a cell” if she arrives at DPS airport with this kind of damage on her passport.

In 2019, Indonesia tightened its restrictions on damaged passport entry from passengers all over the world in order to curb illegal immigration.

SBS Australia reported that the Indonesian government also fined airlines AU 7,131.00 ($5,000) for each passenger with a damaged passport that is denied entry into the country. 

“Among the criteria for the damaged passport are tears, ink blurs, water-damage – Therefore you had better keep good care of your passport.” a representative from the Indonesian Directorate General of Immigration told SBS.

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