#PassportGang: Passport nightmares that could see you making a 'u-turn' home

2017-08-11 14:59 - Unathi Nkanjeni
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Cape Town - While most travellers tend to think that to go abroad you just need to remember to pack your passport, sometimes that may not be enough.

Did you know in order to get through immigration, you not only have to present your passport but it has to be in the right condition?  

Have you read: Warning: Your passport 'expires' three months before it expires!

Imagine the nightmare of being denied entry because you spilt water on your passport, by accident, of course, or you look rather different than you seem to appear on your passport photo - yes, these things happen all the time.

In some extreme cases these things could see you not living your best life with that desired getaway trip with the squad but instead making a "U-turn" home - no questions asked.

But to save your skin, here's how you can avoid them:

Having the necessary visa

Travellers needing visas to visit certain countries often are advised to do the applications three months in advance.

The most important thing to check with visa on arrival is whether there are any other key requirements in order to visit a specific destination - some countries even require them for international stop-overs during connecting flights.

Blank pages

Not many people know that too few blank pages in a passport could see you rejected from flying.

You need to have at least two completely blank pages in your passport, for some countries it is as much as four.

Traveller24 Tip: If your passport is still valid for a number of years but you’re running out of pages, you can apply for additional pages to be inserted, at a fee though.

SEE: South Africans can now apply for passports at their respective banks

Expiration date

If your passport is within six months or less of its expiration date be prepared for certain immigration officials to kick up a fuss - especially if you're travelling to a Schengen destination.

In some instances, your passport actually 'expires' three months before it expires?

SEE: Warning: Your passport 'expires' three months before it expires!

Passport photo

Unfortunately, this is the part where Snapchat filters are not a thing - yes, your favourite flower crowns and contour filters don't apply here. 

If your physical appearance has changed significantly, it could see you being refused entry. 

This does not refer to a new hairstyle, beard or ageing but things to consider include significant facial surgery or trauma, facial piercings that dramatically change the way you look, dramatic weight loss as well as gender transition.

Traveller24 Tip: Bring further photo evidence to the airport.

Your name

When booking your next break ensure that your name is spelt exactly the same as it is on your passport - otherwise, you may be refused from your flight or charged a hefty fee.

Even a simple misspelling of your name on your ticket could be the reason for you to be denied access, so make sure it’s rectified before you travel. 

SEE: Flight bookings 101: Pensioner suffers costly mistake of spelling error on online booking


If your passport is damaged it is cause for suspicion.                                                                                       

Most countries have upgraded the design of their passports to decrease passport fraud risk, anything that causes an immigration official to question the authenticity of your "green mamba" could see you doing the "walk of shame" out of the airport. 

Traveller24 Tip: The definition of a damaged passport is one that is not in a condition to be accepted as proof of identity.

This includes indecipherable details, the laminate lifting enough to allow the possibility of photo substitution, discolouration to the biodata page or even a chemical or ink spillage on a page.