This is one of the most bizarre immigration stories I’ve heard in a while. A tourist from New Zealand was detained in Kazakhstan for nearly two days because immigration officers insisted that New Zealand wasn’t a country, and that she needed an Australian passport. At least that’s what the traveler claims.
Per the NZ Herald:
An intrepid traveller was detained in Kazakhstan after immigration officials refused to acknowledge her Kiwi passport, telling her New Zealand was a state of Australia.
“I landed in Kazakhstan on the last flight of the night, and I got to an immigration booth and they asked me for an Australian passport, and told me I couldn’t come in without an Australian passport.
“They said New Zealand’s clearly a part of Australia.”
Phillips-Harris was taken to a tiny interrogation room where there was a large map of the world stuck up on the wall, one that did not include New Zealand, meaning she couldn’t point out where she was from.
After being interrogated for hours she was locked in a guard room for a day and a half.
This is truly bizarre. I have to wonder whether the motivation was that they wanted a bribe, and if that’s the case, you’d think they’d give up once a lot of people became involved, and before they got to the point where they’d detain her for nearly two days.
Or perhaps there’s more to this story. In looking up the visa requirements for New Zealand passport holders traveling to Kazakhstan, it appears as if they need a visa. This can be issued on arrival for those from a country without Kazakh representation (like New Zealand), only in conjunction with an invitation letter. Perhaps she didn’t have one of those letters, or there was some other documentation that was missing or wasn’t adding up.
Ironically I recently visited Kazakhstan, and had the opposite problem. When I boarded my Korean Air flight from Vancouver to Incheon, the agent insisted that Kazakhstan wasn’t a country. She hadn’t heard of it, and even when I spelled it out for her, she couldn’t find it. Then I showed it to her on a map and showed the passport & visa entry requirements. She still didn’t believe me, and insisted it was part of Russia. I told her if that’s the case then my Russian visa should suffice for my visit. She was still confused.
Quite a bizarre story about the Kiwi in Kazakhstan, though. You’d think that of all countries, Kazakhstan would be quite conscientious of lesser known countries, no?