I recently travelled to the UK via Heathrow to join a university course. At the UK border, I was repeatedly questioned by the officer if I was previously refused a UK visa, to which I answered no. I asked if what the issue was and he told me "there's a problem with my previous visa" and implied that I wasn't being honest with him.

He then left his counter and entered a back room, presumably to check my records in detail. I waited for 10 minutes before he came back. Thankfully I was granted entry, and the only explanation I got from him for the delay and the questioning was that someone else with the same name as me was previously refused a UK visa, so he has the right to make further checks.

The experience left me pretty flustered and upset. Why am I being penalised for someone else's problem? There are so many people sharing the same names and surely he can differentiate them with passport number, date of birth, photo etc?

Am I going to experience this all the time at the UK border now? Is there a way to make sure this doesn't happen in the future?

  • 77
    a small delay in entry is not remotely close to "being penalised"
    – eps
    Commented Oct 5, 2022 at 20:06
  • 13
    "surely he can differentiate them with passport number, date of birth, photo etc?" - people have multiple citizenships or multiple passports. Dishonest people have fake passports (which can also be real passports with the photo changed). Commented Oct 6, 2022 at 4:30
  • 49
    Entry to any country as a non citizen is not a right you have, even with the visa. It is a privilege you are granted. I'd advise patience and politeness.
    – Stian
    Commented Oct 6, 2022 at 5:35
  • 20
    @OganM However, the OP was not "just traveling" were they? They were attempting to gain entry into a sovereign country in which they are not a citizen. Sure, the OP has every right to be upset. At the same time, the CBP officer not only has the right to ensure the visitor is not the same individual that was refused a visa, it's their job.
    – CGCampbell
    Commented Oct 6, 2022 at 11:25
  • 7
    @Peter-ReinstateMonica The US has a specific process you can follow to avoid the "same name" problem (Traveler Redress Inquiry Program). The OP is basically asking if there is an equivalent for the UK, which is a very valid question!
    – Doc
    Commented Oct 6, 2022 at 15:19

4 Answers 4


You are not being "penalized for someone else's problem". Immigration did not do this deliberately. The immigration officer had this other person's record come up when they processed you, and needed to check whether you were that person or not. You may have had a different passport number, date of birth etc. from that person, but unfortunately people change their passports, lie about their birthdates, etc. He would have had to check whether you were the same person or not.

People are human and make mistakes. A ten minute delay while they check is not a bad outcome. It's unlikely you can do anything about it. But it is also unlikely that someone with the same name as you will have recently had a visa refused the next time you visit.

  • 18
    In Spain, the fellow said "how can you be coming in when you never left?" and I sat for about a half-hour while he was who-knows-where. When he finally passed me on, I looked in my passport and saw that the stamp for my prior entry was on the same page as the exit for that visit! So, indeed, mistakes happen. And making a stink about them is not likely to make future visits easier.
    – WGroleau
    Commented Oct 4, 2022 at 21:18
  • 9
    I'm not sure whether the recent visa refusal makes any difference. Every time OP travels the computer will show that a person with this name was refused a visa before. It is unfortunate but I would expect OP to run into this problem every time they try to travel to the UK.
    – quarague
    Commented Oct 5, 2022 at 11:42
  • 9
    Does the UK have the equivalent of the US's Travel Redress Inquiry Program? If this person was encountering this problem repeatedly at US posts of entry I'd recommend that they go through that process; but I have no idea whether a similar program exists in the UK. Commented Oct 5, 2022 at 12:03
  • 14
    @MichaelSeifert Not exactly, but a traveller can make a complaint to the border force if they believe they are being treated unfairly. A user here a few years ago was able to fix an issue where they were repeatedly delayed by making a complaint. I would advise OP to do the same if it keeps happening travel.stackexchange.com/questions/96671/…
    – MJeffryes
    Commented Oct 5, 2022 at 13:29
  • 5
    @quarague I agree with your assessment. Now, however, the OP has the advantage of having gone through this before, so when this comes up on the next trip, if the CBP officer starts down the same path again, the OP can easily state what happened this time.
    – CGCampbell
    Commented Oct 6, 2022 at 11:45

Remember that entering another country as a foreign national is not a right: it’s a privilege. Immigration officers have immense discretionary powers and can refuse entry without reason.

Your passport triggered a secondary check. This happens. It took 10mins for the officer to check and double check you were who you claimed you were and not another person. That’s all.

Keep in mind that the immigration officer is not particularly interested in wasting your and his/her time: they want to catch bad guys, not delay random people legitimately trying to enter the UK. If this is a recurring situation, ask if an annotation can be placed in your file when entering the UK: everybody will the better for it, especially the immigration agents.

  • 10
    @o0'. kinda curious as to when it is a right... Commented Oct 5, 2022 at 17:38
  • 12
    @FreeMan I already excluded that case by restricting my answer to foreign nationals... Commented Oct 5, 2022 at 18:37
  • 9
    @R..GitHubSTOPHELPINGICE but that would be implying it IS a right, and that states are somehow acting to hide this…. Commented Oct 5, 2022 at 20:49
  • 10
    "Remember that entering another country as a foreign national is not a right: it’s a privilege." That does appear to be the way many legal systems and many people view the matter, but it is hardly self-evident. At best it is a proposition on which reasonable and informed people can disagree. Commented Oct 6, 2022 at 3:38
  • 7
    @michaelhardy The only right a passport grants you, is reentry to the country which issued it. That is actually a charter human right, not that those mean anything, but most sovereign nations grant this right by law to its citizens pretty early in the text. All else is more or less solid international agreements which don't grant you any rights per se but is a contract between sovereign states.
    – Stian
    Commented Oct 6, 2022 at 5:42

The other answers address the problem where you got upset. However, you ask how to address this in the future?

You can now describe your previous experience

When the border agent asks you a question about being denied a visa or the like, calmly tell them what happened: "I've never been denied a visa, but I had this problem in the past. When I tried to enter the country in October 2022 at Heathrow, the border officer needed to do some additional checks. He told me somebody else who had the same name had visa problems. They ascertained it was a different person, and I was allowed to enter. You might have to do some similar checking."

This gives the border agent a path they should check on, and provides facts, like previous entry dates, they can verify. It also shows you're cooperative and appreciate their work, by acknowledging there may be a delay.

  • 17
    +1 but a small caveat: some people, especially those with any form of authority don’t like being told what they should do. Do describe what happened last time, yes. But let them decide what they need to do.
    – jcaron
    Commented Oct 6, 2022 at 21:06
  • 5
    10000% correct. Do NOT literally say "You might have to do some similar checking"
    – Fattie
    Commented Oct 6, 2022 at 21:32
  • 2
    But it's likely still going to take 10 whole minutes to resolve anyway. They aren't gunna take the OPs word for it. They will follow their procedure. Commented Oct 7, 2022 at 12:32

Am I going to experience this all the time at the UK border now? Is there a way to make sure this doesn't happen in the future?

I doubt anyone on this board can answer the question of if you're going to experience this at the border again. You can make a request for information. This may enlighten you as to why your name was linked with this other person or tell you nothing.

I have not requested this myself but it does say under 'Specific' you can request 'a particular interview record'. The content of this might put your mind at ease.

This is taken from the this link Request personal info

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