Before departure the airline staff may check your passport stats to ensure you wont be rejected to enter the arrival country.

However, in some case Immigration office of arrival country will reject your entry even you have vaild visa. And normally you will be sent to the country where you come from by the airway you travel to there.

The question is, you are not the resident of the departure country, and the Immigration office also reject your entry, what will the airline do?

PS: I am talking those who have vaild passport and national identity, but not talking about the case of Mehran Karimi Nasseri who was stateless, nor those in Yarl's Wood Or Toulouse-Cornebarrieu.

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    Perhaps some kafkaesque scenario where you would forever be shunted back and forth between frontiers? Jul 31, 2015 at 15:49
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    @SpehroPefhany "Dear Travel StackExchange, Please devise a method by which I might get unlimited free air travel due to conditions which, by no fault of my own, technically prevent any immigration official from admitting me."
    – user23030
    Jul 31, 2015 at 19:23

4 Answers 4


This is not an "airline policy". The airline cannot choose to move a person around different countries against his will without lawful authority to do so. The policy is made by the law of the arrival country, and the airline is required to follow it as a condition of transacting business there.

Ultimately the airline may be compelled by the arrival country to carry you back to your country of residence, or if they will not admit you, back to your country of citizenship, which is usually regarded in international law as being required to admit you. The arrival country should discuss this with the immigration authorities of the relevant countries before proceeding to remove you. If the airline does not fly there, then the owner of the aircraft will have to pay for your passage on other carriers. (They may be entitled to recover the cost from you later.)

For example, the Immigration Act 1971 in the UK includes the following statutory powers—

  1. (1) Where a person arriving in the United Kingdom is refused leave to enter, an immigration officer may, subject to sub-paragraph (2) below–

(a) give the captain of the ship or aircraft in which he arrives directions requiring the captain to remove him from the United Kingdom in that ship or aircraft; or [...]

(c) give those owners or agents directions requiring them to make arrangements for his removal from the United Kingdom in any ship or aircraft specified or indicated in the directions to a country or territory so specified, being either—

(i) a country of which he is a national or citizen; or

(ii) a country or territory in which he has obtained a passport or other document of identity; or

(iii) a country or territory in which he embarked for the United Kingdom; or

(iv) a country or territory to which there is reason to believe that he will be admitted.


  • 1
    "They may be entitled to recover the cost from you later" - under what law do they have this right, if you have committed no negligence to cause the situation? Is this specified in a typical ticket contract?
    – Random832
    Aug 1, 2015 at 4:58
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    @Random832 under the terms of your contract of carriage, which is legally binding. It will likely state that you are responsible for having correct paperwork required to enter the country of destination and any intermediate stops as a condition of carriage. If you fail to have such (the most likely reason to be deported) they can charge you of course, as you're in breach of your contract. They will likely also blacklist you from flying with them in the future.
    – jwenting
    Sep 8, 2015 at 13:09
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    "If you fail to have such (the most likely reason to be deported)" - but we're not talking about that, we're talking about being arbitrarily excluded without it being caused by any identifiable missing paperwork - the question specifically says even if you have a valid visa.
    – Random832
    Sep 8, 2015 at 14:14
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    @Yakk That would only be true if the paperwork is the only thing they consider. If there is no articulable problem with the paper work but the immigration official just doesn't like your face, the airline surely can't sue you for your paperwork or for your face, right?
    – Random832
    Sep 11, 2015 at 13:53
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    @Random832 That depends on the local law and your contract of business with the airline. If the airline is compelled to deport you at its expense, and pay a fine for transporting you, it may reasonably wish to be indemnified against that cost.
    – Calchas
    Sep 11, 2015 at 21:35

You describe a somewhat hypothetical situation that is unlikely to happen in real life. While you might be able to find a few corner cases, they are not going to be indicative enough where any sort of helpful answer can come from the internet.

But to satisfy curiosity for the bulk of removal cases...

If a person arrives in a county with a visa, and they are found inadmissible by the Immigration Officer, the next step is finding out where the person is admissible and sending them there. This is done by the receiving country, not the airline. If the receiving country can't find out and make a positive, absolute determination, well then...

Welcome to Yarl's Wood. Or Toulouse-Cornebarrieu. Or Schwäbisch-Gmünd. Or any of the similar sites that is cleared for intake. The person will be sent there until a solution is reached. They will not return a passenger to a place that will not allow the passenger to enter.

This is explained clearly in the guidance...

While Paragraph 8(1)(c)(iv) provides for removal to another country or territory, (for example, if the passenger asks to be removed to a specific country), it would be unlawful for an immigration officer to give removal directions under this sub-paragraph if he did not have reason to believe that the passenger would be admitted to that country or territory. In these circumstances directions should be given for the passenger's return to:

  • the country of which he is a national or citizen [8(1)(c)(i)];
  • a country in which he has obtained a passport [8(1)(c)(ii)]; or
  • the country in which he embarked for the United Kingdom [8(1)(c)(iii)]

and for the case where the person cannot be returned to the port of embarkation...

In such circumstances the immigration officer should serve an IS 83 on the owner or agent, suitably amended to make it clear that it is intended to give specific removal directions when the case is finally resolved. The refusal form IS 82 (paragraph A), should be annotated to read...

You mentioned the case of Mehran Karimi Nasseri, and there are some spectacular cases like Gary Glitter and Bobby Fischer. But these are so unique that they cannot be examined by a generic answer.

And for your direct question, airline policies are too diverse to even think about. Most of the time they will pay the fine (or costs) and then conduct an internal investigation to find out who was responsible for allowing the person to board. If it looks like an organized crime, they will get the police involved. If it looks like incompetence, the employee will face disciplinary actions.

  • 1
    "Most of the time [the airline] will pay the fine" - What are they fined for? Jul 31, 2015 at 12:25
  • 3
    @HagenvonEitzen Airlines are fined whenever they bring in somebody who doesn't meet basic entry requirements (eg. has no visa). Jul 31, 2015 at 12:36
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    One point of the question was that regularly people have a visa but are still denied entry.
    – Willeke
    Jul 31, 2015 at 13:47
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    The question was specifically about passengers having valid visa and being denied entry at the unpredictable discretion of immigration officers. No liability of the airline here. In the next step the passenger is also denied entry after another flight that was supposedly ordered by the very same immigration office. So again the airline cannot be blamed. Jul 31, 2015 at 15:28
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    It doesn't seem that wildy unlikley. Suppose one has a multi-stop travel intenary, with only a single-entry visa (or one that expires at the end of their visit) at the earlier destination. They'd then not have any permission to enter either their current location (as they'd just been denied), or the state they had just departed from.
    – CMaster
    Jul 31, 2015 at 15:37

If the airline brings the person to the country without satisfying the visa and/or passport requirements for the destination country, the airline is responsible for taking the person back, and may also be fined.

However, in your case, you are saying the person does meet the destination country's visa and passport requirements. He is just denied entry for other reasons. In that case, the airline is not responsible. The person is now the destination country's problem.

The destination country may give the person a choice of

  1. Buying his own ticket (on whatever airline) to leave ASAP voluntarily. In this case, the airline of the new ticket will in turn check that the person meets the visa and passport requirements for the new destination country before letting him board. Or, failing that,
  2. Being forcibly deported. If the person is put through deportation, the the country will be responsible for figuring out which country the person can be deported to (i.e. which country he satisfies the visa and passport requirements of) and arranging the transportation. Generally, having a country's passport guarantees entry to the country, so, if nothing else, the country of the person's valid passport should be a valid destination to deport to. (In the unlikely case that a country denies entry to someone with its own passport, well, then they will have to think of something else.)

And then if the next country the person goes to also denies the person entry, we repeat this process again.

  • It seems likely that immigration officers of the deporting country will call their colleagues in the potential receiving country beforehand, which ought to eliminate most cases of denied entry. Certainly, in high profile cases, news reports sometimes say that officials are "looking for" or are "unable to find" a country that will take the person being deported.
    – phoog
    Nov 10, 2016 at 20:36

As others have said, once you have been refused entry, the airline has little say in the matter, you will not show them your passport at the check-in desk in the regular way but be escorted directly to the gate by the police/border guards. Airlines have broad legal obligations to carry you back to your country of departure (in national and international law) but the local police usually makes the decisions.

That's not to say airlines always go along, an airline or an individual crew can obviously refuse to carry out a removal. After that, it's a matter of negotiation between the airline and the authorities, they might have to face some penalties, etc. but it's still their airplane. Usually, it's because the person being removed becomes agitated and the police escort reacts with aggressive tactics that passengers and crew find disturbing but it does occasionally happen.

If you have been removed in that way but cannot be admitted in the country you originally left, reasonable countries will not ask the airline to carry you again to your original destination. In some countries, that's explicitly specified in the law, e.g. in France. But it does happen, I have heard of a few cases of people who did two round-trips before one of the countries involved budged (sorry, no reference at hand but I am not thinking about celebrity cases, just some unlucky unknown travellers).

The alternative is to move the person to the regular deportation/removal system, which is a bit messy but deals with many other thorny cases including people who are being expelled after a court order, have been caught staying illegally in the country, won't say where they are from or lie about it, etc. The way this works is that you will be detained for some time while the authorities look for a country that is ready to admit you. That could be your country of citizenship but also some other third country, depending on the specifics of the case.

In any case, they should in principle get clearance from that country's consulate before putting you on a plane, especially if you don't have a valid passport, which is often the case (some people try to ditch their passport after landing in an effort to make removal more difficult).In this scenario (i.e. outside of a straightforward “bounce”), it's not necessarily the airline that brought the person to the country that will take care of the transport. The country deporting you might also pay for your tickets (and those of the escort, as applicable), possibly on another airline.

If there is no solution (e.g. because your country isn't safe or isn't cooperating), you could be detained for a long time, in some countries indefinitely, or possibly simply let go with a temporary visa and an order to leave the country by yourself (this happens regularly in France for example).

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