A Sydney woman is urging people to double-check the condition of their passports after she was denied entry to New Zealand over minor damage on hers.
After attempting to move to New Zealand for six months and constantly being set back by Covid, Lindsey Gray relocated to New Zealand with her family in March this year.
However, some small tears on the edge of her passport photo page almost stopped her from entering the country.
Officials told her she wasn't able to travel
After months of applying for a permit to travel, Ms Gray finally got permission to move with her partner and young son— both of whom are New Zealand citizens — and began organising their move.
"We had our house on the market and all our possessions already shipped to New Zealand and therefore we were effectively homeless in Australia," she to Yahoo News Australia.
"Our new home was waiting for us in New Zealand."
After excitedly arriving at Sydney's international airport, her excitement soon turned to tears after immigration officials wouldn't let her board.
"Because I am Australian and the New Zealand border was still effectively closed to Australians [at the time], my passport had to be manually 'overridden' or something like that by a New Zealand immigration official at check-in, rather than just scanned by the Qantas staff," she explained, adding that's when they noticed the damage on the passport.
"During the six months of trying to move, my one-and-a-half-year-old son must have at some point, located and nibbled on the corner of my passport," Ms Gray recalled.
"When [New Zealand immigration officials] saw the nibble on my passport, they were 100 per cent unimpressed," she continued.
"They told me it could have been tampered with and therefore I would not be allowed to travel".
Rushed for an emergency passport
Admitting she was panicking, Ms Gray rushed to get a train to Central Station from the international airport to secure an emergency appointment for a new passport, which cost $533.
After another round of Covid testing, an airport hotel stay and rebooked flights, they were able to fly out the following day, with Ms Gray praising Qantas staff and the passport office staff for their compassion when dealing with the matter.
"The best part of this story is that my puffy, distressed, cry-face is now my passport image for the next 10 years," she joked.
"The story is immortalised and commemorated in this way.
"Please don't get the photo page of your passport damaged in any way people. Big lesson for out-of-practice travellers here — check that puppy for damage before flying".
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