May 28, 2024

Travel In Bali

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WA: Small passport detail saw prominent lawyer detained in Bali when trying to go on a holiday

WA: Small passport detail saw prominent lawyer detained in Bali when trying to go on a holiday

Small passport detail that saw a prominent lawyer detained in Bali when he arrived for a tropical holiday – and it could happen to anyone

  • What happened to lawyer could happen to anyone 
  • A simple detail led to man being held in Denpasar 

A very small detail on a prominent Western Australian lawyer’s passport led to him being detained in Bali immediately after he arrived on the Indonesian tourist island. 

John Hammond flew into Denpasar airport on Sunday and was going through the  immigration process when suddenly a problem with his passport was spotted. 

Perth radio station 6PR got a tip into its breakfast show rumour file that Mr Hammond was using an expired or close to expired passport. 

Lawyer John Hammond (pictured) had just flown into Bali and was going through the immigration process when suddenly a problem with his passport was spotted

Lawyer John Hammond (pictured) had just flown into Bali and was going through the immigration process when suddenly a problem with his passport was spotted

But rather than just go with what someone else had said, hosts Steve Mills and Karl Langdon went straight to the source – they phoned Mr Hammond. 

After assuring them he wasn’t being held in Kerobokan or any other Bali prison, the lawyer explained what happened. 

‘I was herded off to the bowels of the Denpasar airport when it was put to me that possibly my passport was a fake. 

‘It had a little tear in it about the size of a thumbnail, and that was the reason, I believe, why I was held with security at the back of the airport,’ he said. 

An Australian lawyer's damaged passport caused him problems when he arrived in Bali. Pictured is a woman rowing a traditional boat to Ulun Danu Bratan Temple in Bali

An Australian lawyer’s damaged passport caused him problems when he arrived in Bali. Pictured is a woman rowing a traditional boat to Ulun Danu Bratan Temple in Bali

Given how Australians such as convicted drug smuggler Schapelle Corby have fared in Bali – nine years in Kerobokan – Mr Hammock was fortunate to have been held over a comparably minor incident. 

‘I had to read out a statement that I acknowledge that my passport was of poor quality and/or a fake,’ he told 6PR

As any good solicitor would do, Mr Hammond said he ‘tried to impress the customs officer by saying that I’m a lawyer and wouldn’t do this sort of thing’.

He couldn’t resist having a crack at an Australian budget airline as he continued.

‘They tossed up sending me back on the next aeroplane – if it was Jetstar I would have been waiting another four hours – but we’ll leave that to one side,’ he said.

A simple detail in his passport led to Perth man John Hammond being held after his arrival in Bali

A simple detail in his passport led to Perth man John Hammond being held after his arrival in Bali

Mr Hammond was eventually let go after being ‘asked to sign a statement that I would never return to Bali with a passport like that’.

With that, he was free to go and three days later is still in Bali, something that wasn’t looking certain after he had arrived with a torn passport. 

The radio hosts told him he had better say something nice in case the Balinese authorities were listening 

‘If I get detained because of the (6PR) rumour file, I’ll let you know,’ said Mr Hammond, wryly. 

Passport damage and the law

Normal wear and tear to your passport shouldn’t be a problem. More serious damage can stop you from travelling. 

A Qantas plane is pictured taking off from the Indonesian resort island of Bali

A Qantas plane is pictured taking off from the Indonesian resort island of Bali

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