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Tiny Passport Damage Causes Massive Problems For Bali Tourists

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Tourists planning their upcoming travels to Bali are being encouraged to double and triple-check every last millimeter of their passports.

The advice comes after a Sydney-based tourist was turned away from her flight over a tiny issue with her passport. 

Close Up of Passports.jpg

In a situation that is proving all too common for tourists just about to jet off to Bali, another tourist has been turned away at the last moment following airline staff.

Elyse Elmer, a Bali-bound traveler, shared her upset on TikTok as a way of venting her frustration and warning others that such a tiny problem could ruin their whole vacation abroad. 

@elyseelmer sorry about the bluetooth connection at the end but it is what it is. so I went to get on my flight and they said the tear in my passport was too big and Indonesia would detain me and or send me back if they let me fly so they refused entry to me for that flight. emergency passport tbc… #traveling #passportproblems #travelproblems ♬ original sound – Elyse Elmer

Elmer was denied entry to Indonesia because of a tiny tear in the spine fold of her passport.

Airline staff, upon noticing the damage, had to refuse her onto her flight.

Even if she had been allowed to board the flight, this tear would likely have been noticed by immigration officials in Bali, and she’d have been turned away anyway. 

A similar situation happened to a British tourist traveling from Australia to Bali last year, as well as to Sydney Airport.

Only this time, airline staff noticed a tiny watermark on her passport and deemed the damage too significant to ignore.

She was denied entry to her flight and missed the trip to Bali. 

@elyseelmer Replying to @lisaedwards371 spoiler alert: same day passports arent a myth but they sure are expensive 😭 sharing my story to encourage everyonr to check their passports so you can avoid the problems I had! #travelling #passportproblems #travellife #travelproblems ♬ Goth (Slowed + Reverb) – Sidewalks and Skeletons

In the short TikTok video, Elmer said, “Last night I was denied entry into Bali…So in Australia, at the [airport] counter, they refused to let me on the flight. I cried in front of everyone.”

She added, “That is literally … all it took for them to totally refuse entry.”

Indonesian Immigration Officials are particularly hot on checking the condition of passports.

This is partly why airline staff on the Australian side are also so pedantic about checking the condition of documents. 

In June 2023, Matt Vandenberg, a traveler from Sydney, boarded his flight to Denpasar without a hitch.

However, upon arrival, his passport was flagged as damaged by immigration staff at I Gusti Ngurah Rai International. 

Vandenberg was traveling to Bali to attend his friend’s wedding, when an immigration official found a tear less than 1 cm in length also along the spine of his passport.

His passport was then confiscated and he had to wait in an investigation room at the airport until he could board a flight back to Australia and arrange an emergency passport. 


Speaking to the press after the debacle, Vandenberg explained, “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.”

He described the whole affair as ‘grim and exhausting’ but praised the immigration officers who were assigned to keep an eye on him for their care. 

He, too, warned tourists to check every centimetre of their passport long before it’s time to head to the airport. 


Indonesian Immigration is particularly strict on passport quality.

Even if a watermark, small tear, rip, or folded page has been accepted by immigration officers in other countries, that doesn’t mean that it’ll slide in Indonesia.

Tourists are encouraged to check that their passport is in pristine condition before traveling to Bali, and if in doubt arrange a replacement document. 

Bali lovers have taken to online forums to discuss what is and isn’t acceptable and what has and hasn’t been able to get away with in the past.

While there will always be people who’ve managed to ‘sneak’ in with a passport that they claim to be in tatters, it’s frankly not worth the risk.


Every year, especially in the high seasons, more stories emerge of tourists being turned away due to minor passport damage.

It’s always best to check long before travel is planned, especially since in some countries, passport applications can take up to six weeks to process. 

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Monday 1st of April 2024

All these small defects is a joke, at the end of the day if your chip is working and it scans plus your picture is visible then what's the big deal.

J West

Saturday 30th of March 2024

The arrogance of persons who wouldn't qualify to clean toilets in a developed country is all about envy.


Monday 1st of April 2024

@J West,

If you're referring to the tourists and expats who believe they have the god given right to behave as they like and ignore local laws and customs, I'd agree.

Wayan Bo

Saturday 30th of March 2024

Same could happen to US tourists in countries where they aren’t welcome, such Syria, Libya, Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea, Bhutan, Afghanistan, Irak, Saudia


Friday 29th of March 2024

No sympathy at all. The Indonesian attitude is widely known and publicised. Maybe airlines could reinforce it by including a relevant line on the itineraries/e-ticket to RI

Wayan Bo

Saturday 30th of March 2024

@Shorty, airlines are in worry that they have to fly back sich tourists for free.


Friday 29th of March 2024

Hmmm ... you dont get it, how to travel to a third world country... money solve all problems.. ;-)

Wayan Bo

Saturday 30th of March 2024

@Benito, yeah perhaps one US $ bill attached into passport could solve such problem 🤣