Bali tourist warns of simple passport mistake that cost her $450: 'Please don’t be me'

The young woman checked her passport at the last minute to find one small detail that made it too risky to fly.

There's nothing more stressful than realising your passport may not be valid just days before your trip abroad — as one young traveller discovered.

Charlotte Rebecca was leaving on her trip from Melbourne to Bali in just seven days when she decided to do a final passport check, only to discover some "slight" water damage on the back despite it being just a year old.

Indonesia is known for its strict border regulations, so, not wanting to take any risks, Charlotte visited the Australian Passport Office to find out if her passport would still be safe to take away.

After checking, the passport would only scan two out of three times so the employee told her it was up to her if she wanted to risk flying with it. "The lady at the Australian Passport office was like, 'Look it’s up to you if you want to do it — it might be fine, it might not be fine. It depends who you get',"she said.

Left image a screenshot from Charlotte's TikTok of her talking, holding her Australian passport. Right image is a close up of her passport with the minor water damage.
Charlotte spent $450 to get her passport fixed in time for her trip to Bali. Source: TikTok

$450 for priority replacement

Charlotte decided to play it safe and pay $450 to get herself a new passport, which included a $250 priority processing fee so she could get it before she left for Bali. "Please don’t be me," she said. "But I would rather pay $450 than be detained or [be forced to] fly home".

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Only 'reasonable' wear and tear is okay

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, a passport should be replaced if it has more than reasonable wear and tear — even a small amount of passport damage can stop a person from travelling.

Things to look out for:

  • Make sure there are no tears or cuts in the pages, especially the photo page.

  • Everything on the photo page should be legible and clear.

  • There should be no marks across the photo or in the Machine Readable Zone (MRZ) at the bottom of the photo page.

  • Check no pages have been removed.

  • Ensure there is no alteration or tampering.

Better to be safe than sorry

One Aussie woman who had not been so lucky was allegedly stopped from boarding her Jetstar plane to Bali because of a tiny detail on her passport earlier this year.

The traveller was set to leave for the tourist hotspot on Wednesday but claimed the airline refused to check her in or let her travel with them because of a small rip in her passport, forcing her to forgo her planned $2000 holiday. Read about what happened here.

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