My Passport Is Flagged Because of My Name

Hey guys,

This started happening about 2-3 years ago where my passport gets denied at the e-gates in and out of Australia (no problems overseas) and sends me straight to the customs service desk where they spend a good amount of time going through my file on their computer whilst i wait. Once the customs lady called her supervisor over and asks him "what should i do"? for him to respond "if you feel comfortable his fine". Also every time i come back to Australia that write an "E" on my inbound card and this is followed by myself getting pulled over whilst they make a few phone calls and sometimes check my bag.

When i asked a friendly customs lady last week, she said my passport is flagged because of my name and no other reason, and no matter if i get a new passport this will keep happening.

Just for my background, i have no records and i get a comprehensive background check by the government every 2 years for security clearance.

I wanted to ask if this has happened to any of you guys before and anything i can do? It's quite literally discrimination, but there must be a better way to flag someone suspicious.


  • +52 votes


  • Possibly because there's someone with your name who has outstanding warrants/criminal charges. Happened to a friend of mine in the past - held up at the airport for an hour or so whilst border security conducted checks. 1 year later, they found out in the newspaper that a person with the same name was arrested for money laundering.

    It's all probably for good reason to stop criminals from attempting to flee the country.

  • What would be a better way to flag someone than by their name?

    Unfortunate but short of changing your own name there's probably not a lot you can do.

    • +18 votes

      I'm not sure, perhaps they can refine the names a little with passport number and DOB?

      • They may not have that info, the person may not be an Aust citizen.

      • Most likely if this was a warrant or police notice etc they may not have passport details. realistically all they can do is take the information on hand and compare against you.

      • Well, your first name is very common…
        …but your last name is "AAA" is very famous on the leaderboards of many Retro Games. Maybe they just wanted to meet a living legend?

      • I'll give you a hint OP - there are plenty of common names with the identical gender and DOB.

        Passport numbers can be used for alerts, but due to the fact that you can "lose" your passport and get a replacement easily, authorities wouldn't be putting weight on the passport.

        The issue is your name and DOB are likely identical with another Australian Viet who has an active (ongoing) alert.

        Short of changing your name, you just cop the inconvenience and help yourself by answering their questions to save yourself time.

        If you spit the dummy or argue it will not help facilitate you.

      • The police don't have access to your passport number unless you give it to them. So they wouldn't know this person's passport number. However I'd assume that for this person they likely do have their date of birth.

        edit The police should only have access to a tiny bit of information about a person unless some process has been undertaken to obtain it. Privacy is good.

    • There is a lot of info on the passport Jesus even the country of citizenship.

      If OP isn't a threat then just whitelist his passport from the check.

      • Did Jesus have a passport?

        • -2 votes

          Passports are a very recent thing in history.

          • @deme: not as 'recent' as you might think.

            There is a record from the Middle East of a "letter of safe passage" for a traveling dignitary as a representative of 'The King'.

            Early Hindu texts discuss documents quite similar in purpose to modern-day Passports.

            The Chinese Hans had documents that permitted (or not) the free passage of the bearer of the document.

            The Romans had 'certificate of citizenship' that acted at times like a passport.

            And we've not yet progressed much past the time of Christ in the above examples.

  • +2 votes

    That really sucks. Especially as its outside your control, so there's probably nothing you can do. Just allow yourself extra time at airports for the unjust searches etc.

  • It's wierd that all the tech doesn't STOP this from happening.
    I mean, your passport is unique to you with a unique number, and you got it made with all the other unique-to-you ID at the post office. Chances are, your age and birthplace are different to the criminal, so the name is the only thing matching.

    Surely they could just add a note that says 'lol he isn't THE osama'.

    It's about as silly as you getting flagged because you have the same DOB as hitler if you think about it. Are you sure you aren't really hitler even though every other bit of info is completely different?

    But sorry, I have no solution. Maybe ask one of the immigration guys to do something about it next time you do get stopped.

    • +10 votes

      There was a Boston Legal episode about this very thing. Similar things were said.

      • I loved that show back in the day. Must set aside some time to rewatch some of it, I can't really remember it that well.

    • I mean, your passport is unique to you with a unique number, and you got it made with all the other unique-to-you ID at the post office. Chances are, your age and birthplace are different to the criminal, so the name is the only thing matching.

      I'd err on the side of caution. If the criminal somehow managed to obtain someone elses passport and thoroughly changes his/her appearance to match, then border security has good reason to extensively examine/investigate the person of interest. Does not matter if they've gotten annoyed multiple times in the past, it's a matter of national security.

      • The perp must be pretty stupid to continue using OP's name/copying his face when there's so much attention on it.

      • Why err on the side of caution? Life is about risk, mitigation and trust.

        Society could not function without trust. You are trusting OzBargain right now not to hack your browser, you are trusting your CPU not to spy on you and deliver correct results.

        You couldn't possibly verify everything is safe in your life, and if you could that would be an immense toll.

    • It's about as silly as you getting flagged because you have the same DOB as hitler if you think about it……

      Certainly is - can't be that many people travelling who were born in 1889.

  • This might be better posted on Subtle Asian Traits and see if others with your same name also get flagged. If they do, there's no much you can do about it if one particular individual with your same name is deemed a risk. You can change your but there's a whole bunch of paperwork to be done.

  • Change your name?

  • happened to someone i know
    so he kicked up a stink after the 3rd time
    and it never happened again

    • oh wow ok, i didn't think kicking up a stink with customs would ever lead to good things haha.

      • if you have something to hide, then yeh kicking up a stink would not work in your favour.
        but if you have a clean record like you say, they could “unflag” you just as easily as they flagged you.

  • Haven’t had that issue in Australia but after 911 happened in America we found ourselves searched at just about every airport we passed through in America. We were two 40ish year old “skips”, so we were about as far from “traditional” profiling as we could get. We wondered if we were the token “white people” to show they don’t profile.

    I wouldn’t kick up a stink but I would try to find out if there is anything you can do to stop this happening. It’s going to ugly if you are running late for a plane.

    • +2 votes

      Happened to me plenty of times in the USA. I reckon they check how much time you have before your flight, whether you seem noob, if you look at them wrong, they'll flag you for a search. PITA but don't take it personally.

      • Frankly American security, at that time, was counter productive. The queues were horrendous so people were plucked out of them and pushed through security to get the planes in the air. We used to joke to each other, well away from the airport, if we put a cardigan over the top of any bomb they never would’ve found it in our carry on, because all they did was glance inside. Total insanity. It was an interesting time to be in America.

  • Contact your local Commonwealth member of Parliament.

    • +1 to this.

      This issue is one where your Federal Member could definitely help. The Member will forward your case to the relevant Minister and then the Minister will ask his Department to investigate.

      I wouldn't advise kicking up a fuss at the airport. The front-line staff have no control over these things.

  • I have a similar issue. A guy in the UK with the same name as me committed a pretty bad crime and is in jail for it yet I still often cannot get through the auto gates at customs.

  • never happended to me and yeah it sounds frustrating.

  • Have you tried to Google your name + various crime keywords?

  • Have you traveled to the US ? Did you get the SSSS on your boarding pass.

    • Haven't been before, SSSS is for extra security check isn't it?

    • +2 votes

      My (approx 13 year old) daughter got the dreaded SSSS on her boarding pass, I almost cancelled the trip as I knew what it was.

      Thankfully, as we were departing Australia they did the secondary security clearance, which mostly just involved a few extra swabs, when we got into the US they didn't do any extra as Australia had done it.

      Interestingly, they did it once and once only. After that, she was given TRS PRCHCK on further US flights! (basically can skip most of the security, which usually costs money to sign up for in the US).

      Honestly, kinda useless though as her parents didn't have it, she had to wait in line anyway.

  • Why Are you getting a "security clearance check" every two years… it may be bc of this.
    Surely if your name is the same as some al qaeda leader that their would be some discrepancy, at least, like birth date, etc.
    I think it is time to write a letter of complaint to Customs, Border Force, and have them clarify the issue.
    Failing this, you need to write to Dutton…. or change your name.

    • Surely if your name is the same as some al qaeda leader

      OP has common Asian name that may be the same as a known drug trafficker.

    • My line of work requires a govt background check every 2 years.

      • Could just be a verification of that and then updating and confirming biometrics (if asked) or updating imagery of you as part of those background checks to verify the person entering and exiting is the same person.