Many countries now have popular reality shows which are filmed at immigration control (e.g. Australia, Canada, and the UK). These programs film both ordinary and scandalous events, and there is at least anecdotal evidence of both border officers and producers pressuring travelers to participate in one of these shows.

If I am at an immigration checkpoint and observe filming is going on, how can I avoid being shown in these programs (even in the background), without aggravating immigration officers who might want people to participate in these shows?

  • 2
    You can always ask them to censor your face and voice
    – Crazydre
    Commented Aug 3, 2017 at 16:38
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    I do believe most of these series have ended, except perhaps for Australia, so I'd tale comfort in the fact the likelihood of finding yourself in a situation where filming is taking place and you have a complicated and interesting border crossing that would be at all worthy of televising is incredibly small. Commented Aug 3, 2017 at 16:43
  • If you are merely background material, I seriously doubt immigration officers would want you to appear. The only people they want are those who make the story, not someone who happen to be standing in another line.
    – user13044
    Commented Aug 3, 2017 at 17:20
  • While they would need your permission to show you in any significant role, I don't believe they do if you happen to be visible in the background. You are in a public place, and while you might hope that certain people don't see you on the show, you can't guarantee that they won't see you in real life. Commented Aug 3, 2017 at 18:24
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    @DJClayworth I was under the impression that immigration and customs control was not a public place; after all, every immigrations and customs checkpoint of which I'm aware prohibits the public from filming in the control zone (understandably so, since passport and travel information ought to be confidential)
    – user65735
    Commented Aug 3, 2017 at 18:26

1 Answer 1


IANAL and it depends on the jurisdiction. The following is what happens for Canadian shows:

For a creative type show, generally they ask permission to film you or they they set up cameras that records quite a lot but then they request permission to have you appear in the show, if they find your participation interesting. Much more is usually filmed than is shown for nearly all such shows.

However, there is freedom of press in many countries and if they were to have obtained permission to recording the immigration area (for a purpose such as a documentary on immigration handling) than your permission is not needed to be included as part of the footage. If they are speaking directly to you than would have the choice of denying the interview. It seems like the Canadian one was marketed as a documentary, in which case the rules are more in favor of the press. With such major production, it is often possible to ask for anonymity. They can either blur your face and distort your voice or have a reporter recount the story withholding your name.

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