Thursday 24 January 2019

INDONESIA: Check Your Passport For Any Damage Before Traveling To Indonesia

Bali-bound travellers are being refused entry to Indonesia for using damaged passports, as the Indonesian government strictly enforces its immigration laws, demanding "good" condition passports from tourists.

Indonesian immigration authorities have cracked down on tourists travelling with damaged passports in recent months, after the story of a British couple who flew to Bali in October but were denied entry because of a travel document with a missing chunk, their excuse was - the dog tried to eat it

The West Australian, authorities in Indonesia have begun enforcing a US$5,000 fine on airlines that allow travellers with damaged passports to board flights to the Southeast Asian nation and passengers at Perth airport were being turned away because of these tighter restrictions.

Speaking to The West Australian, a passenger whose partner had been refused boarding of a Batik Air flight to Bali was told that 20 tourists had been stopped from travelling to Bali for the same reason in the past month.

An increasing number of tourists have reportedly been refused entry to Bali because their passports were considered "damaged" by Indonesian immigration authorities.

This month The Daily Mail reported that a 16-year-old girl was blocked from entering Bali and forced to spend 11 hours in an airport before she was sent home because of a tear in her passport.

In November, a newlywed couple from UK celebrating their honeymoon with a £4,000 trip to Bali were also reportedly denied access to the island after their dog had chewed the corner of the groom's passport.

But to what extent does a damaged passport normally preclude travel?

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) explains what are the categorisations of damaged passport on their website.

Damaged passports

It is your responsibility to keep your passport intact and in good condition.

Normal wear and tear will not affect its usability, but serious damage to your passport could prevent you from travelling overseas.

Contact with water or other liquids can cause serious damage.

You must not tear or remove pages from your passport.

It is critical that all the details and the photos on the personal data pages are legible and clear, and that there is no evidence of alteration or tampering with any aspect of the booklet.

If you are unsure whether your passport's condition is good enough for travel, you should seek advice from the Passport Information Service on 131 232 or from an Australian diplomatic mission or consulate.

When contacted by SBS Indonesian, Hermanus Dimara, Consul for Information, Social and Culture of the Indonesian Consulate General in Sydney, said that the general rule regarding what constitutes a damaged passport is if the data in the passport cannot be read by the system.

But it's not that simple.

Mr Dimara added that the final decision was made by immigration officers in the field, who check the physical condition of the passport and decide whether the passport holder is allowed to pass through Indonesian immigration.

Are airlines culpable?

In further crackdown, The West Australian reports that Indonesian authorities are imposing heavier restrictions and fines on airlines that carry passengers with damaged passports.

It was reported that Indonesia also fined airlines US$5,000 ($7,131) for each passenger denied entry under the strict rule.

The Head of Public Relations and General Affairs of the Indonesian Directorate General of Immigration, Teodorus Simarmata, gave a statement regarding the issue of damaged passports that had been experienced by Australian citizens headed to Bali.

Responding to the news, here are some related matters.

1. Rejection of the foreigner resulting in airlines paying expenses only applies in the following cases:

A passenger who does not have a travel document;

A passenger who does not have a visa, subject to foreigners who are required to have a visa to enter Indonesia;

A passenger who does not have a legitimate and valid Immigration Document - the validity period of the passport is less than 6 months and/or the visa has expired.

2. As for the rejection of foreigners due to the damaged passport, this does not result in the cost of transportation on the airlines.

3. The imposition of expense is enforced if airlines transport passengers who are included in the criteria mentioned in point 1 above.

4. Rejection of a foreigner's entry, based on the results of examination performed by Immigration officers at the Immigration Checkpoints, is carried out as a form of sovereignty of the country.

We submit this press release to clarify the news that has been circulating in the community.

The Head of Public Relations of the Indonesian Directorate General of Immigration, Sam Fenando explained that immigration officers have the rights to prohibit both Indonesian citizens and foreigners entry, related to damaged passports, because the officers follow the Standard Operation Procedures (SOP).

Mr Fenando urged people to take good care of their passports.

Among the criteria for the damaged passport are tears, ink blurs, water-damage - Therefore you had better keep good care of your passport.

Tourism Observer

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