Me and my family, my wife my son aged 11 and daughter aged 9 travelled via Germany from UK to Tunisia for a 8 night holiday. We all hold UK passport therefore no visa is required. Hotel and transfer and return flight had been booked. On arriving at Tunis we as a family were denied entry with no reason other then the way we looked. We were forced to spend night in cramped and uncomfortable chairs. Then escorted on to return flight and then once on airplane passport were return with boarding card. We returned to UK via Germany 32 hours after leaving UK. Travel insurance will not pay any cost as there is no insurance for this situation. Can any one suggest if there is any way I can reclaim any cost.Thanks.

  • Did you book independently or as part of a package? Nov 10 '17 at 22:32
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    Unless you were explicitly told you were being denied entry based on your appearance, you have no way of knowing the real reason. I am not saying the reason is justified in any way in your case, just that immigration agents have a good measure of latitude. There are all kinds of crazy stories about people being refused entry to the US because of tweets or dependence on Bitcoin, none of which it is possible to verify one way or the other.
    – choster
    Nov 10 '17 at 22:37
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    Saj, the name sounds Indian, so I do not think the way you appear will deny you entry to Tunisia, or any Arab country for that matter. Unless you have a long beard and look like a radical Muslim, then this might be true. Knowing Tunis and Tunisians in general I can safely say that this could be the reason. It's quite common for them to deny entry to known radicals (they have a long list) or anyone they suspect might be a part of the islamic brotherhood (AlEkhwan) or similar groups. Sometimes, as i said I know them well, they will prejudge you by the look.. Sad, but true. Nov 11 '17 at 16:24
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    You mention "the way we looked" but fail to mention how you think you look, and in what way this would be relevant. You might get better answer if this is included in the question - strange clothes, cannabis t-shirt, religious symbols etc.
    – pipe
    Nov 11 '17 at 21:55

I assume you ask whether you can recover from the government of the country which refused you entry.

Generally you cannot recover those costs. The only exception is if you arrived in a country you have a right to admission to (which usually means you are the citizen of this country), and were illegally refused admission.

The reason for this is that you have no legal or contractual "right to admission" into a foreign country. Obtaining a visa does not equal to a contract giving you admission privileges - it only allows you to travel to the point of entry where the immigration would make a final decision whether allow or deny your entry. You might be able to challenge this decision (sometimes only in form of appeal to an immigration supervisor at spot), but once you departed back, it is forfeited.

In my opinion the above stays true even if you were denied entry for the unlawful reasons, such as because immigration officer did not like your race or religion. And proving this would be difficult, because the officer must record the denial in their system using one of the authorized codes. Still you can then challenge this decision at your expense in a Tunisian court, but even if you win, this would likely only result in invitation to "visit again" (still without a guaranteed entry) and a penalty to the officer - rarely worth the effort.

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    Do you have a source for the requirement of a Tunisian entry immigration officer to document the reason for rejection even if only with codes?
    – Jan
    Nov 11 '17 at 6:02
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    Straying into legal.se here but in many states such a claim would be barred on the basis of sovereign immunity. Most other states would afford a good deal of latitude to border force officers and would be unlikely to entertain a claim for compensation on public policy grounds, even if the officer had erred.
    – Calchas
    Nov 11 '17 at 10:59
  • Is it even unlawful to be denied because, whatever, "I don't like your face"? I fear it's not. Unless you fall under the Geneva convention, you generally have no right whatsoever to enter a country, even if a visa has explicitly been granted previously. Being allowed to enter is a kind of privilegue that is, well... granted, or not, at the officer's judgement (read as: however the officer pleases). It's not a given right. So I'd be sceptical whether it's possible at all to make a case of that. Some countries (e.g. USA) explicitly let you sign that you waive all rights.
    – Damon
    Nov 11 '17 at 15:01
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    @DavidRicherby the 1951 "Convention relating to the status of refugees" is generally known as the "Geneva convention on refugees", as it was signed in Geneva. Some people dislike this however as it confuses this treaty with those on the regulation of armed conflict.
    – Moo
    Nov 11 '17 at 20:43
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    @GeorgeY. "They must follow the rules". For better or worse one of those rules is that the immigration officer has discretion and final judgement.
    – emory
    Nov 12 '17 at 12:40

If you booked a package through an ABTA accredited travel company, you might be able to recover something, typically ABTA covers you against a lot of things that travel insurance doesn't. You may not receive a full refund but a sympathetic travel company might be able to give you another holiday of roughly equivalent value or refund you the cost of everything but the flights. These companies also want to keep good PR, so it's worth calling them up and explaining what happened.

If your ordeal is particularly noteworthy you might be able to hawk it to the press as a pity or outrage story for some compensation. It might seem seedy but it is an option.

No travel insurance company I know of will cover costs due to denial at port, even the most expensive policies, so you're SOL there.

Honestly, if you genuinely believe that you were denied because of your looks (I'm going to guess you look Middle Eastern), I would not risk travelling anywhere like North Africa (or possibly even the US) for the foreseeable future unless absolutely necessary. If you really want to play it safe stay in the EU, you cannot be denied entry except under exceptional circumstances with a British passport under freedom of movement (at least until we leave, but that's still some way off). It's not fair, but that's unfortunately the way it is right now.

  • 5
    Also with travel insurance you can only recover the costs which are a) incurred, b) non-recoverable and c) only for unused services. This means he cannot recover the airline ticket costs (since the tickets were used for roundtrip flight), and can only recover hotel costs if they are nonrefundable AND non-creditable.
    – George Y.
    Nov 11 '17 at 5:14
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    Thanks all for your comments. I am a Muslim with a long beard and my wife wears a face vale. Holiday was not a package holiday. Looks like hotel booking agent will get money back from hotel which is better than nothing.
    – Saj
    Nov 11 '17 at 17:51
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    @Saj - Yeah, I thought so. From now on I would recommend you and your family stay away from any country that has had a significant problem with Islamic terrorism for the foreseeable future, possibly including the US (apart from the EU, because as I said, they really can't refuse you without a very good reason). It's not fair on your family, I know, but I think that is the best course of action to prevent you from losing £1000's all over again. Nov 11 '17 at 21:36
  • @GeorgeY. That's not strictly true, many policies will make compensatory payments even for services that are (eventually) used. For example, if my flight is delayed more than 24 hours, I receive a (very meagre) £10 per day compensation, even if I end up taking the flight. For rarer and more inconveniencing events you may receive larger payments. Nov 11 '17 at 21:40
  • @Crazymoomin Flight delay, if covered, reimburses you for extra expenses youincur due to delay. And all travel policies I've had required submitting receipts to get this compensation, i.e. you could not get those money unless you actually incurred expenses.
    – George Y.
    Nov 11 '17 at 22:14

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