Warning for all travellers as Aussie woman in Bali is hit with $1,500 charge for little-known passport rule
- Melbourne traveller’s passport ‘slightly dirty’
- Bali officials interrogated the 28-year-old
- Forced to pay $1,500 to get her passport back
An Aussie woman is warning fellow travellers bound for Bali after she was slapped with a hefty $1,500 fine for having a dirty passport.
Monique Sutherland was heading to Bali with her 60-year-old mum for a ‘much needed holiday’.
Ms Sutherland was made to sign an additional blue form when she was checking in at the Batik Air counter at Tullamarine Airport in Melbourne because her seven-year-old passport was slightly dirty.
However, Ms Sutherland encountered a problem when she pulled out the blue form at immigration in Bali.
Monique Sutherland was made to sign an additional blue form when she was checking in at the Batik Air counter at Tullamarine Airport in Melbourne because her seven-year-old passport was slightly dirty
Bali officials took the 28-year-old into a small interrogation room and threatened to deport her for trying to enter the country with a damaged passport despite the passport already being stamped for visa entry
‘I was asked if I was alone, and if I were a regular traveller (which I’m not) … then I was taken into a small interrogation room,’ Ms Sutherland told 7News.
‘Officials continued to come in and out and question me for over an hour.’
Ms Sutherland said she was ‘hysterical and petrified’ as the officials laughed and spoke in Indonesian.
Officials told the 28-year-old needed to be deported because she was trying to enter the country with a damaged passport but would be permitted to stay if she paid a $1,500 fee.
Ms Sutherland said her passport was already accepted and refused to pay the fee.
‘My passport was actually accepted and already stamped for visa entry, and it wasn’t till I handed them the blue form that I was picked on,’ Ms Sutherland said.
Indonesian officials then pressured Ms Sutherland’s 60-year-old mum, claiming her daughter’s passport would not be returned until she paid the fine.
Ms Sutherland’s mum reluctantly paid the fine, and the pair were escorted through the airport.
She added the ordeal was ‘very traumatic’ and dampened the otherwise relaxing getaway, as she spent time stressing and researching whether her passport is acceptable.
After returning from her trip, Ms Sutherland contacted border security officials in Melbourne who told her the passport fiasco was most likely a set-up.
‘My passport was never the real issue. It was an easy way to get some money from inexperienced tourists,’ Ms Sutherland said.
Bali has some of the strictest passport rules when it comes to the travel documents having any tears or water damage
Young traveller Emma Doherty (pictured) was barred from boarding a plane from Sydney to Bali after border security noticed a small amount of water damage on her passport
It comes after a young holidaymaker was stopped from boarding a plane to Bali after border security noticed a small amount of water damage on her passport.
Fitness coach Emma Doherty headed to Sydney Airport on June 21, excited for her 10-day solo trip to Bali.
But the traveller was barred from boarding her flight and was told by officials that water damage on her passport made it look ‘dodgy’.
‘So I’ve just been rejected on my flight to Bali, and I’m currently stranded in the middle of Sydney Airport,’ Ms Doherty said.
‘No idea what to do or where to go, and I literally just got told that if they’d let me into Bali, the military and the security in the airport would have put me into a cell.
Bali has some of the strictest passport rules when it comes to the travel documents having any tears or water damage.
The laws were introduced in 2019, with Indonesian authorities able to detain travellers and fine airlines more than $4,700 for allowing the passenger to travel with a damaged passport.
Passport damage and the law
Aussie travellers should check their passports (pictured) are in good condition
Normal wear and tear to your passport shouldn’t be a problem. More serious damage can stop you from travelling.
If you’re not sure about the condition of your passport, call the Australian Passport Office on 131 232 or contact your nearest Australian embassy or consulate overseas.
It’s important that:
- there are no tears or cuts in the passport pages, especially the photo page
- everything on the photo page is legible and clear
- there are no marks across your photo or in the Machine Readable Zone on the photo page
- no pages have been removed
- there is no alteration or tampering
They may need to see your passport to assess it.
Source: Australian government