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Minuscule passport damage prevents woman from moving abroad

Toddler’s ‘nibble’ on travel document ruined travel plans

Lucy Thackray
Wednesday 27 April 2022 14:17 BST
<p>Ms Gray is warning fellow travellers to watch out for any small damage to their passports</p>

Ms Gray is warning fellow travellers to watch out for any small damage to their passports

An Australian woman claims she was prevented from travelling abroad to move house because of a small amount of damage to the corner of her passport.

Lindsey Gray had planned to relocate from Sydney to New Zealand in March, taking with her her partner and one-year-old son.

However, when she reached Sydney’s Kingsford Smith Airport, she says immigration officers prevented her from boarding her flight, due to a tiny “nibble mark” on her passport.

“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 told Yahoo News.

“Our new home was waiting for us in New Zealand.”

The move had already been beset with problems due to the pandemic, with Ms Gray waiting more than six months for the journey to take place.

She says that the damage was first noticed when a New Zealand immigration official checked out her passport.

“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 explains.

”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.

“When they 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.”

Ms Gray was forced to rush back into the city to arrange an emergency passport, an errand she says cost her AUD$533 (£302).

The family also had to re-arrange Covid testing and new flights in order to fly out the following day instead.

She joked about how unflattering her new passport photo is, due to the stress of having to sort out a new one at short notice.

“The best part of this story is that my puffy, distressed, cry-face is now my passport image for the next 10 years,” said Ms Gray.

She warns other travellers: “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.”

Even small amounts of damage to your passport can result in being detained or denied boarding in some destinations.

In December 2019, Made in Chelsea star Georgia Toffolo was detained in the Maldives’ main airport with the threat of deportation due to her passport missing a page.

“I am typing this having just been released from immigration detention!” she wrote on Instagram. “Please everyone check your passports - I didn’t realise that two pages had fallen out of the centre.”

In 2019, Ben West wrote for The Independent about his experience of being denied boarding on a flight to Qatar due to passport damage.

The same year, a 22-year-old man missed out on a family holiday to the Caribbean because his passport had a small rip in it.

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