‘Rules are rules’: Aussie tourist denied Bali entry over tiny passport tear

An Australian tourist’s Bali getaway was torn to shreds (at least initially) as he was refused entry to the renowned Island of the Gods. The reason? A seemingly insignificant tear on his passport.

Responsible passport upkeep is a crucial duty for every traveler, as even the tiniest imperfection can lead to an arduous immigration ordeal, or worse, outright rejection.

Enter Matt Vandenberg, a 29-year-old adventurer from Down Under, who eagerly embarked on a journey from Sydney to Bali to attend a close friend’s wedding and relish in the island’s tropical wonders alongside his travel companions.

Upon arrival at Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport, Matt’s excitement quickly transformed into disappointment as he was detained within the airport premises, effectively denying him entry into Indonesia.

He soon learned that a minute tear in his passport was the primary cause of his ordeal.

Immigration authorities wasted no time in informing Matt that he would not be permitted entry into Indonesia. Consequently, his passport was confiscated, leaving him with no choice but to be flown back to his homeland.

Matt clarified that he had no qualms about the minor tear in his passport. However, he emphasized that it would have gone unnoticed had the immigration officer not manipulated the document.

“I’m not disputing the tear – but it wasn’t even noticeable until you bend it back (and immigration officers in Sydney were fine when they scanned it),” Matt wrote in a follow-up tweet.

Before his flight back, Matt said he had to endure hours of waiting at the airport, under constant surveillance.

Throughout his stay at the airport, Matt was vigilantly monitored by local police officers, tasked with ensuring he did not abscond or surreptitiously embark on his planned Balinese escapade.

Yet Matt was able to remain upbeat about the whole fiasco – especially because the Bali airport officers showed him respect and kindness throughout.

Having safely returned to Australia after enduring an additional seven hours in the air, Matt has now embarked on the arduous process of obtaining a new passport, which he hopes will grant him entry into Bali.

His final words serve as a cautionary tale to fellow travelers: 

“So flying home tonight and I have an emergency meeting tomorrow about my passport tomorrow morning, so hopefully can get a new one and get back over. Probably a good warning for people travelling to Indonesia – they do not mess around!,” Matt cautioned on Twitter.

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