In countries with exit controls where you must clear immigration/passport controls when leaving the country, what happens if you try to leave to go to a country that you are obviously not allowed to visit?

For example, some countries, including Malaysia, do not allow Israeli citizens to visit them. What would happen if an Israeli citizen attempted to cross the land border between Singapore and Malaysia? Would the Singaporean immigration officials refuse exit or would they not care?

Edit One comment said Israelis are actually allowed to visit Malaysia, just with special visas.

Then a better example would be, what would happen if an Israeli national tried to cross the border from Turkey to Syria or Iran? There are both countries where Israeli citizens are not welcome. Would Turkish immigration officials stop them and/or remind them they might be refused entry?

  • 1
    Israelis are allowed to visit Malaysia, they just need a visa with a special clearance permit. Commented Dec 28, 2019 at 14:47
  • 2
    If travelling by air, the airline will verify that you are allowed to visit the destination, because they are financially responsible to transport the traveler back in case of refusal in most cases, but immigration officers have no such mandate I believe, interested to hear experiences here Commented Dec 28, 2019 at 15:00
  • 1
    @MattDouhan the airline is generally liable for a fine, above their own costs, payable to the government, if they transport a passenger who is refused and lacks adequate documents. They are not liable if someone is refused who has adequate documents. The fines are typically a few thousand dollars.
    – phoog
    Commented Dec 28, 2019 at 18:00
  • As a dual citizen, I've never been asked by passport officials to show more than one passport when exiting a country and I only show one, the one I entered with, so as not to confuse them. The airlines people, on the other hand, they do check that I'm allowed to fly to the country or that I'm allowed to come back, so they usually ask me to show them my second passport if I only show one without a visa on it. I am not an Israeli citizen, but I think the same lesson should hold true for Israeli citizens as well. It's really only the airlines that care. Commented Dec 29, 2019 at 18:18

3 Answers 3


As a rule, immigration cares only about the country you're in, what you do afterwards and whether you can enter the next country is not really their problem. You might get a nice officer who tells you if they have concerns if they notice something, but they have zero legal obligation to do so and you really can't count on it. It's highly unlikely they would stop you from leaving, although I vaguely recall a case of this happening on Travel.SE for somebody trying to exit from Poland to Belarus (IIRC) without a visa.

Note that this is quite different from how flights work: airlines will check your documentation on departure, but only because they get stuck with the bill and any fines if you're not allowed in.

  • 5
    Even when traveling by air, do your own checking. The airline can miss something. See, for example, this answer. The airline did not notice that the itinerary included an intra-Schengen flight and the passenger needed, but did not have, a Schengen visa. Commented Dec 28, 2019 at 15:21
  • 1
    To prove the point, there have been examples around here of people who exited the Schengen Area, were refused entry into the neighbouring country (because entry for Schengen visa holders into some of the Balkan countries is only valid with a dual or multiple entry visa and they had a single entry visa, for instance), and their exit of the Schengen area was then cancelled (double oblique bar on the exit stamp). This clear lily proves on exit the passport officer didn’t prevent exit.
    – jcaron
    Commented Dec 28, 2019 at 15:37
  • 6
    Based on human nature, I would think the only case one could count on a warning from the exit control officer is if it would cause them more paperwork to rectify the situation afterwards :-)
    – jcaron
    Commented Dec 28, 2019 at 15:40
  • I believe that if you are a Chinese citizen exiting Mainland China with a Chinese passport, the exit checks do check that you have the documentation to enter the destination country. One reason for this might be to catch cases where people have acquired a foreign nationality, thus automatically losing Chinese nationality, but still pretended to be Chinese citizens; if they intended to use their foreign passport to enter the destination, and don't have the appropriate documentation on their Chinese passport, this would be caught. But this is a different situation than in the question.
    – user102008
    Commented Dec 29, 2019 at 17:23

Do immigration officers care when leaving to a country you are obviously not allowed to visit?

Typically no, but that's probably not universal and they are likely some exceptions to the rule.

Any exception would be likely at a land border since enforcement at ports or airports are handled by the airlines or cruise ship lines and most governments put hefty fines in place to make sure they do a thorough (but not perfect) job at it

Consider a land border from A to B. Exceptions could be triggered by cases where any problem entering B would also affect the country A. Let's say you have a single entry visa for A and no Visa for B. At exit immigration, the officer country A would check that you were legally in the country have not overstayed AND they would invalidate your single entry Visa.

If you now move on to country B, they won't let you in since you don't have a Visa. Typically they would just sent you back to A, but since your single-entry Visa has been invalidated you can't go back there either. So you are stuck between A and B and someone has to deal with you.

In many cases, the exiting country has a process for this, where you would get an emergency transit Visa or some such, but that's a lot of extra hassle and paperwork and so it's a lot easier for country A if the exit immigration officer checks your credentials for entry into B BEFORE they invalidate your single entry Visa.

Another example: Exit immigration in Hongkong does a fairly thorough check of your papers at any land border to mainland China. I'm pretty sure they would refuse you exit if there is a problem with your entry credentials into China. Granted, I have never tried, and I'll make darn sure I never will!

Overall there are 186 options for country "A" and for country "B", 200 or so possibilities for your citizenship plus a many different visa options and all of these are governed by a different set of laws and rules. These are tens of millions of combinations and making any general statements is always likely to be incomplete

  • +1, but single-entry visas can be magically un-invalidated by the simple expedient of cancelling the exit, which is what usually happens if you were refused entry on the other side. Things get more complicated if you've exceeded validity as well though... Commented Dec 29, 2019 at 10:12
  • This is interesting, but to me it feel like a "it would be nice and logical if this happened", as opposite to "I know that this actually happens". Maybe it's not intentional, but this is what I perceive reading this answer.
    – o0'.
    Commented Dec 29, 2019 at 19:40

Immigration of a country would not know all other countries rules, for potentially everyone from any other country - a huge complexity, and ever changing. They do not care.

For flying:
If you cannot travel to a specific country with your passport/visa/documentation (without getting a visa/waiver/etc. first), the airline is responsible to not let you board. This is part of their agreement to even be allowed to fly people into the target country. Airlines typically use the TIMATIC database to verify your eligibility to tarvel to a country. [note that it is your responsibility to have all necessary documents - the airline will simple decline you to board].
In practice, you would never make it to immigration, as you are not allowed to get a boarding pass or enter the secure area.

For land borders:
As you are going in one specific country, immigration probably knows the rules, and might warn you - but it is not their responsibility. There are known cases of people stuck between borders, not being allowed in either country; although typically the country you came from would let you back in, reinstating your previous situation (and put you in jail, if it was illegal)

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .