One of the scariest things to experience is getting denied to enter a country. Even though you have a valid passport, a visa, or proper documents, the immigration authorities could still deny you entry to their country. “Airport to Airport” is a term used when a passenger was not allowed to pass a border and stays in the airport until s/he flies back to the airport he came from or his home country. The IATA (International Air Transport Association) calls them Inadmissible Passenger.
According the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization), an Inadmissible Passenger (INAD) means a “passenger who is refused admission to a state by authorities of that State, or who is refused onward carriage by a State authority at a point of transfer, e.g., due to lack of a visa, expired passport, etc.” It is different from a Deportee Passenger since deportees are granted legal stay in a state. It’s also not being “Off-loaded,” as most Filipinos term as it notes that you are denied boarding at your departure are or ask to disembark from the plane and not allowed to go out of the country.
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Inadmissible Passengers Categories
Improperly Document Passenger
- Traveler does not hold the documents asked by the State as required for entry or transit
- A typical example is that if you have a passport with a validity of only 1 month left. However, most countries need your passport to be valid for at least 6 months
- No proper visa for the country will also let a passenger get denied of entry
Fraudulently Document or Undocumented Passengers
- Travelers using illegal entering the country
- No Documents on Arrival – Passenger A purposely loses his passport or documents
- Fraudulent Documents Identified on Arrival – Passenger B uses a visa that is found to be fake
- Genuine Documents Held by Impostors – Passenger C pretends to be Person X and uses his passport to enter a country
Other Admission Refusals
- Kach experienced refusal of Saudi Arabia because there was an announcement stating that passengers “coming from” the Philippines can’t get a Tourism visa. There were confirmations from the airlines, tourism board, and hotels that she could go as she did not come from the Philippines but has a residency in Montenegro and a flight from London. However, much to her dismay, the immigration officer refused her entry due to a “Philippine Passport.”
- Another reason one could get refused admission is having no “onward or return ticket.”
- Insufficient funds or lack of money could also be grounds for refusal
What Immigration Officers do when you are an INAD?
- Carrier (the Airline company) is notified in writing as soon as possible
- INAD Passenger is usually flown back to where he’s been or his home country on the next available flight
- Should the INAD belong to the category of “Fraudulent Document or Undocumented Passenger,” then there is a document which will be given to the carrier that is delivered to the authorities in the place where the passenger is returned
- For national security, those in the 2nd category (Fraudulent Documents) may not get back to his home country until there is a replacement travel document
- There may be escorts, especially for high-risk cases, that might be under carrier’s expense
What to do when you are considered an INAD?
- If you have done nothing wrong, keep calm, I know it’s a bit frustrating, but fighting with the immigration officers would not do you any good.
- Should you have the right documents, but won’t the immigration officer refuses you, you can ask for a senior official to check it
- You may also contact for the Philippine Embassy for help, especially if you get discriminated, threatened, or harassed
- A flight will be booked to get you from the country you departed from or back to your home country
- You will be in immigration custody until you are boarding for your flight, please note that some countries may be strict than others, e.g., for the U.S., you may not be able to get a hold of your luggage, passport, or phone
- Information with regards to your denial of entry is not on your records unless you have committed a serious offense like drug trafficking, fraudulent documents, etc.
Who pays for your fare?
- It is the responsibility of the carrier to bring the passenger back
- If you booked a return ticket with the airline, it would be used to book a return flight for you (not extra rebooking fee)
- Should there be none, the airline will book without government tax and issue a ticket. Airlines will send a message to their arrival station, stating there is an INAD and tries to recover the cost from the passenger.
- In case it’s a Deportation Cases (due to past overstay or crime), the ticket is under government budget
- There are also specific rules per country, e.g., for Australia or New Zealand, the cost to bring you back to your country is considered a debt under your name, sometimes you won’t get a visa approved if you still have debt
- Most countries will fine the airlines in case they find an INAD since it’s their responsibility to check beforehand
How to avoid being an INAD?
- Check documents beforehand, review if you need a visa to enter the country, double check your passport’s validity
- For minors, make sure you have additional requirements, e.g., DSWD Clearance (for those in the Philippines), Letter from Parents, etc.
- Know the purpose of your visit to the country. For Example, if you are going to a wedding in Country Z, you should know the location, who’s getting married, etc. Unbelievably, someone’s husband got denied entry because he didn’t know
- Read the announcements, ask for expert opinions, e.g., immigration officers, embassy, airlines, etc.
- Should you reported a lost passport and got a new one, do not use the lost passport
- Have a return or onward ticket – most countries require this especially for those who don’t own powerful passports
- Don’t use fake travel tickets. You won’t be considered as an INAD but get Deported and may get your visa revoked.
- Have numbers of your country’s embassy ready before you go out of your country. This may be useful in case of emergencies.
- Get travel insurance. There are times you will get to book your flight back or have paid for non-refundable tours, accommodation, etc. You can recover your costs if you have Travel Insurance, especially with Trip Interruption Coverage.
I hope this is an enlightening guide! I’ve learned a lot from writing this, too. I hope we won’t experience being “Airport to Airport” or getting declared as an Inadmissible Passenger. Double-check, triple-check your documents to avoid being in this scary situation.
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