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PSA: Using a Damaged Passport May Get You Thrown in Jail

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


Let this influencer’s experience influence you.

Influencer and Instagram model Lacey Montgomery-Henderson apparently learned the hard way that using a damaged passport isn’t the world’s best idea.

According to The Scottish Sun, the 28-year-old spent 24 hours locked up in a Bangkok jail after local authorities at immigration noticed her passport was missing two pages.

Why were the pages excised from her passport?

She says a “liquid spill” five years ago caused them to be damaged.

Sigh.

Does anyone else wonder how exactly her passport got wet?

Call me risk-averse, but I generally don’t keep my wallet, passport, cellphone, or anything like that somewhere it can get wet. Was her home flooded? Did she leave it on a table and spill a beverage? Take it swimming? Read it in the bathtub?

Perhaps she should put her new passport (we’ll assume she gets one) in one of those cellphone pouches made for underwater use. Or maybe just a Ziploc bag.

I’m also curious how much traveling Ms. Montgomery-Henderson has done over the past five years if became a problem only now. (Or if it were already called to her attention, she obviously didn’t remedy the situation.)

 

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Hey I’ve finally figured out how to properly do my hair after 27 years ‍♀️ @inthestyle code ‘lacey10’

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Following Ms. Montgomery-Henderson’s overnight stay at the graybar hotel (I’m not signing up that loyalty program, thanks), she “was escorted by British Airways staff onto a BA flight which, she said online, ‘restored her faith in humanity’”.

Interestingly, she was allowed to keep her cellphone with her while locked up in the jail cell — and able to communicate with her followers.

Stranger things have happened, I guess. But that doesn’t quite seem believable to me. (Any readers with Thai jail experience, please feel free to chime in!)

What does seem believable, though, is her getting into trouble for trying to use a damaged passport.

Consider this a warning if you didn’t know that border officers may turn you away because your passport is “significantly damaged.” Sure, a weathered passport may look worldly and show off that you’re a world traveler.

A Delta One boarding pass for a flight from Tokyo Haneda to Los Angeles International Airport - LAX - is tucked inside a US passport.

But when border officers fan through your passport booklet, they’re probably looking for more than just a page to stamp or slap a sticker. They want to make sure your passport isn’t, you know, missing pages because you tore them out five years ago.

That kind of things makes one look suspicious.

Significant Damage — and What to Do About It

So what exactly qualifies as “significant damage”? According to the US Department of State’s website:

If your passport has been significantly damaged, especially the book cover or the page displaying your personal data and photo, you will need to apply for a new passport. Damage that might require you to replace your passport includes water damage, a significant tear, unofficial markings on the data page, missing visa pages (torn out), a hole punch, or other injuries.

Normal “wear and tear” of a U.S. passport is expected and likely does not count as “damage.” For instance normal wear includes the bend of a passport after being carried in your back pocket or fanning of the visa pages after extensive opening and closing.

So there you go. Before taking your next international trip — perhaps a mileage run! — make sure your passport is in shipshape condition. Or spend the money to get a new one. Whatever the cost ($110 in the US, assuming you don’t expedite), that’s far better than spending the night in the hoosegow.

–Chris

Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

7 Comments

  1. I got water damage on my passport after getting caught in a downpour. Soaked through my bag. Guess I’ll have to try the Ziploc, like you suggested.

  2. I traveled twice a month to China for many years and so my passport always ended up in many pockets and was with me at all times. I ran it through the washing machine several times washing away some more recent stamps, damaging the magnetic strip in the cover and also damaging my 10year Chinese visa (but only a little). I was pretty fearful the following week when I returned to China. They looked at it funny, asked about it, I explained the wash, and they’ve been fine ever since.

  3. Santastico Reply

    I am so happy she finally learned how to get her hair done properly. Maybe she spilled some shampoo on her passport while getting her hair done????

    I always keep my passports inside a sealed Ziplock bag inside a passport bag inside my backpack.

  4. I travel international frequently, so I keep the passport in my computer bag, which has a side water bottle compartment. I had a refrigerated bottle water in that compartment and Asia being so hot and humid, had collected a lot of condensation on the outside of bottle, which then got absorbed by the bag material and transferred to the inside and permeated a corner of the passport book.

    I think it’s downright silly to think a passport will survive a lot of travel without some damages to it. With all the innovations we have, passport should have been replaced by an electronic version already.

  5. A Swedish museum once stamped my passport with a black stamp that looks like a real customs/immigration stamp except if you read Swedish, it is clearly a museum stamp. Nobody noticed. I’ve since gotten a replacement passport because that one expired.

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