5 times where your passport can trip up your travel

Knowing a little about the limitations of your passport can go a long way at the immigration queue. The officials at check-in and immigration security are on the lookout for these 5 passport issues.

Names not spelt the same on your tickets vs. your passport

The name on your ticket MUST match the name on your passport. Generally, an airline ticket only requires first and last names (though a few specific airlines need middle names as well). The trap for inexperienced travellers is that the name on the ticket must match the Bio-Security name at the bottom of your passport page. This can sometimes differ from the way it is spelt above (especially if special characters are involved). If your tickets don’t match your passport at check-in, at best you will need to pay a reissue fee to change the ticket (And hope that you have an hour to make this happen). At worst you will need to buy a new ticket at last minute prices!

A torn, worn or damaged passport

It doesn’t matter what you look like when you check-in, but your passport always needs to look pristine! The reason behind this, is that if you were a crook, and had stolen a passport, then attempted to swap out the photo or the name, the easiest way to hide the changes would be through wear and tear. The security guys have clicked to this, and now flatly disallow any passport that looks like it could have tampered with. The best and worst case scenario here are the same. You simply won’t be allowed to travel on it!

The frequent flyer trap

It’s a great achievement to fill your passport with as many stamps from as many countries as you can. But beware one trap for the uber frequent flyer. When you arrive at a new country, many countries (a surprising number) specify as an entry requirement that you “must have a completely blank page available in your passport on arrival”. No blank page – no arrival stamp. No arrival stamp – no entry allowed!

When is 10 years not really 10 years?

Most passports are now issued for 10 years for adults (5 years for infants and children).

But many countries require you to have 6 months spare – from the date that you are DUE TO DEPART their country. This was a rule brought about to curb overstayers but is rigidly adhered to. To make it more confusing, there is no “type” of country that enforces the 6-month rule. Many tiny island nations do, but many don’t. Some big countries do, and others (like the USA) only require 1 month. Each country you are traveling to needs to be checked. The rule of thumb is, if your passport is nearing the end of its life, get a new one!

A passport is all I need to travel. Not so!

PASSPORT: a formal document issued by an authorized official of a country to one of its citizens that is usually necessary for exit from and re-entry into the country.

A passport, by the dictionary definition allows you to leave and re-enter YOUR OWN COUNTRY ONLY. It doesn’t actually give you automatic entry to any other country. To travel to another country, you need authorization to enter. Our immigration officials have pre-negotiated “visa free” entry to quite a few countries for New Zealand passport holders, but many still require that you apply for entry. (See our article “No visa – No go” for more on the subject). It’s a simple enough formality to check each country that you are going to (well in advance), but failure to check could be catastrophic to your travel plans!

A parting word on passports… keep them safe! Passports are a prize for pick pockets and thieves. When away from home, they are you most precious possession!



Oh my gosh, we all had a fantastic day out. Thank you so much. I really didn’t expect to like all those weird and wonderful snacks during the "Curious Food Train" activity, and didn’t think they would all participate. The staff all keep thanking us for such a great day. Looking forward to next years event!