Warning: Immigration screening at Melbourne, Australia.


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xtemujin

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Apr 1, 2005
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Singapura, Singapore
#1
I'm very glad to be back home in Singapore after my backpacking trip of Melbourne, it left a big negative feeling of Australia for me.

The immigration officer were very impolite and cold. After stamping my passport, I was screened by the first officer and asked about my passport, air ticket and is it the first time I visited Australia.

After, collecting my luggage, another officer came and asked the same questions again, passport, air ticket and whether it is the first time I visited Australia.

Then I had to go to another officer to screen what I have in my luggage. Pasar malam at the checking counter for 1/2 hour and asking the same questions again and how much money did I bring into Australia.

He then kept my passport in the drawer put on his gloves and proceeded to go through my stuff. I had to take out my belt and also show my hidden waist pouch. Then he asked me why I was using a jacket and I had to remove it and let him go through my jacket, it was cold in the airport.

Fortunately, I did not have to strip down. After checking all my stuff, he told me that I was a suspected threat because I was travelling alone.

I talked to some of the people who have stayed there for a while and was told that it is quite common for Asian travellers and I was lucky that I was not detained for a few hours.

I talked to my hostel mate from USA and he told me that he did not have to pasar malam when he went through immigration.

Just a warning to those who are thinking of backpacking to Australia alone.
 

#2
Even as someone holding an Australian passport I had to go through a strigent check when the last time I came back from a trip to Malaysia/Singapore.

If you are a male Asian and travelled alone, be prepared for some questioning and a more thoughout check. I think it's because we fit a suspect profile.

The immigration officer went as far as asking me whether I had visited any farm and if so the soles of my shoes might have soils that carried germs. If I answered yes I would have to come home bare feet after having the shoes confisticated. What if I said I swum in the pond in the farm?

It's not a welcome you expect for coming home. :sweat:
 

Jemapela

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Feb 20, 2005
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#4
Recently, and even presently I think, Australia is showing a TV series called Border Security where customs at airports and other ports in Australia are shown at work. It shows how customs officers look out for certain factors that may render a traveller a potential suspect for drug trafficking or illegal overstaying.

Not long ago, I recalled one episode where an Asian male was also spotted at an airport and held for interrogation. Customs held him under the suspicion that he intended to illegally overstay (immigrate), and their suspicion was backed by the type/quantity of personal items he carried. I can't remember the specifics or details.

I believe the custom officers are just doing their job, just like the beagles they bring around to sniff your luggage. It is common knowledge that Australia has one of the world's strictest passenger arrival and quarantine policies. I'm also sure that they are very vigilant because Australia is a very desirable country to live in (ranked 2nd best in the world by UN HDP). Australia draws hordes of illegal immigrants and boat-travelled refugees every year.

I haven't encountered such scrutiny like yours at Melbourne airport even though I travel in and out of it at least once every year.
 

jsbn

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Jul 24, 2002
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#5
Had encountered stuff like these at Sydney even though I was travelling with my family.

And I wondered what is it with them when I did my DFS shopping before I went back, the receipt (which they would key in my name, passport number & nationality) which the lady gave me for me to claim my stuff had the wrong nationality (CHINA instead of SINGAPORE).

Went back and politely tried to get her attention when she simply ignored me.

Makes me wonder what's it with some people there who doesn't know the words "Singapore", "Singaporean" or "Republic of Singapore".

P/S: Is there a term known as "Civil Servant" in Australia? Or do Aussies term people working in the Government sector differently?
 

jsbn

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Jul 24, 2002
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#6
Even as someone holding an Australian passport I had to go through a strigent check when the last time I came back from a trip to Malaysia/Singapore.

If you are a male Asian and travelled alone, be prepared for some questioning and a more thoughout check. I think it's because we fit a suspect profile.

The immigration officer went as far as asking me whether I had visited any farm and if so the soles of my shoes might have soils that carried germs. If I answered yes I would have to come home bare feet after having the shoes confisticated. What if I said I swum in the pond in the farm?

It's not a welcome you expect for coming home. :sweat:
Suspect profile for Asian males who travel alone?

Well, I guess that's it for my Desert Drive dream thru Australia. :bsmilie:
 

jumbocrab

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Jun 27, 2004
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#9
The immigration officer went as far as asking me whether I had visited any farm and if so the soles of my shoes might have soils that carried germs. If I answered yes I would have to come home bare feet after having the shoes confisticated. What if I said I swum in the pond in the farm?
I think this is quite normal. They have to safeguard their own agriculture.
 

#11
Well, I guess that's it for my Desert Drive dream thru Australia. :bsmilie:
Once you're in they mostly leave you alone. You have to do something very drastic to attract a policeman.

Sure you want to do the desert drive? A friend showed me a book about such adventure which was full of hundred and one things to be careful of. But you'll get some stunning photos if you can time to arrive at those landscapes at the right time.
 

May 2, 2006
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#12
I talked to my hostel mate from USA and he told me that he did not have to pasar malam when he went through immigration.

Just a warning to those who are thinking of backpacking to Australia alone.
Erm, that's what customs do. What's there to warn about? :dunno:
They randomly check on suspicious looking people, esp lone travellers because that's where they tend to smuggle things in.

And there is a higher chance of you being searched if you don't look like the typical family traveller lugging a Samsonite luggage, i.e: going for backpacking.

It's the same every country you go. They do that with foreigners coming into Singapore too.
In USA, it takes 5 hours to check out of LA airport. It's only your first time to Aust, so take it easy.
 

Sep 8, 2004
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near the Equator
#13
We'd probably do the same for any single male traveller coming into Singapore, and if we didn't, we should.

It's called profiling, just stay calm and cooperate. If your name is not on a watchlist, you'll be fine.
 

iggy

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Dec 1, 2005
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#14
We'd probably do the same for any single male traveller coming into Singapore, and if we didn't, we should.

It's called profiling, just stay calm and cooperate. If your name is not on a watchlist, you'll be fine.
Actually, it's called Racial Profiling, and it doesn't matter if you're travelling alone or with a group. The airport security perrsonnel are instructed to do this, and they need to carry it out as a matter of procedure.

When I was pulled up once, I chatted with the officer who was going through my stuff. He was friendly enough to explain that he had to do it (and why he had to). Heck, the guy even whispered an apology after our chat.

Is it racism .....hell, yeah!

Do I understand it ....yup!

Do I condone it ......hell no!
 

slooow

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Feb 12, 2006
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#15
start your sentence with a familiar accent/slang to them.... they will be happy and will love to talk to you:)

something like... "GOOD DYA MATE! HOW YOU DOING?? [BIG GRIN HELPS]"

if they keep a little shy/quiet... ask about the weather... it changes very fast, their mood changes faster hahahaha

"HOW IS THE WEATHER HERE? STILL COLD? READ IN THE PAPERS THAT SUN LOOKS BRIGHT AND LOVELY"

i never had problems entering brisbane sydney or melbourne:) cos i know they love "good days" and "good sunshine"

hehehe
 

jsbn

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Jul 24, 2002
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#16
Once you're in they mostly leave you alone. You have to do something very drastic to attract a policeman.

Sure you want to do the desert drive? A friend showed me a book about such adventure which was full of hundred and one things to be careful of. But you'll get some stunning photos if you can time to arrive at those landscapes at the right time.
Like breaking the traffic laws or pulling a Too Fast, Too Furious? ;p

Yup. The thrill of driving alone, somewhere out there and the priceless photos which says, "I had done it." Its all abt doing something alone, going all the way out alone.

These overwhelm the 101 things I have to take note of, from speed limits and possible carjackers to the bounding wild kangaroo crashing headlong into my car, breakdowns, etc.
 

jsbn

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Jul 24, 2002
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#17
We'd probably do the same for any single male traveller coming into Singapore, and if we didn't, we should.

It's called profiling, just stay calm and cooperate. If your name is not on a watchlist, you'll be fine.
Hmm.... I'm not sure abt Immigration Rules here but had been to Japan alone (single, male, Asian) so many times that with the exception of 1 time when I was carrying that tripod bag (which certainly looked like it could store a ton of explosives) and was sniffed by the dog, there certainly hasn't been as much questioning on me.

Different countries, different policies? Or simply a case of bochup? :dunno:
 

#18
Being born in Melbourne with a Malaysian/Singaporean background, when I was coming back from my last Malaysia/Singapore trip two years ago WITH and Australian passort, I was questioned shortly at the immigration counter about who I live with, why I'm visiting (I blardy live here) and where I stay.

It pi55ed me off, but I guess that it's just the way things are run in Customs.

When I was going to Singapore through the causeway I was also questioned about whether I'm Japanese and if I speak english among other questions about who I'll be staying with in Singapore (grandma) and my intentions. I always dress well and carry enough money with legitimate documents but still get pulled over for questioning.

Immigration is just like that.
 

Gymrat76

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May 10, 2004
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#19
Same thing when my wife and I touched down at Melbourne last month. We were both pulled over by immigration personnel cause we didn't fill out the "Address you're staying at when in Australia" section of the immigration card as we were moving about and didn't stay in one place longer then a night or two. I had to show them my complete itinerary with addresses and contact number of hotels etc before they were satisfied we were legitimate tourists.

I don't blame them also, as they probably have a ton of Asian illegals over there. If I was an Australian, I would be happy that my immigration guys were this strict about immigration laws.
 

hwchoy

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Jul 16, 2003
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Tampines, Singapore.
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#20
And I wondered what is it with them when I did my DFS shopping before I went back, the receipt (which they would key in my name, passport number & nationality) which the lady gave me for me to claim my stuff had the wrong nationality (CHINA instead of SINGAPORE).
jsbn, I was under the impression you are a Malay, is that correct? if so, they now cannot even tell which race typically comes from which part of Asia? I mean for a chinese Singaporean I guess they could confuse with mainland chinese, but a Malay or Indian Singaporean?
 

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