American traveler's customs form joke just earned him a lifetime travel ban

It is particularly rare for travelers, particularly to countries that are popular tourism destinations, to cop a lifetime entry ban. The latter is usually a last resort reserved for those who violate multiple laws or pose a security risk to the country.

But a lifetime travel ban is precisely what the Philippines handed out to 34-year-old American traveler Anthony Laurence over “disrespectful” behavior that included writing “profane words” in his customs declaration.

Related: It is still taking a ridiculously long amount of time to get a passport

As the Philippine Bureau of Immigration posted on its website, Laurence had arrived at Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport on an Air Asia flight from Bangkok on Nov. 7 and proceeded to fill out a customs form required of any foreign national entering the country on the tablets provided at the airport.

An Air Asia plane standing at Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Thailand. Photo by Peerapon Boonyakiat/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images.

SOPA Images/Getty Images

‘Keyed in a made-up address, did not include his full name and inputted profane words…’

“After verifying [what Laurence typed] in our system, the officer discovered that the passenger had keyed in a made-up address in the Philippines, did not include his full name, and inputted profane words in his entry,” Philippine Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Norman Tansingco said in a statement. “Such behavior is not only disrespectful but also undermines the efficiency of the system.”

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Another officer at customs reported that Laurence threw his passport and phone at him after he was told to fill out the customs form — after which, the account goes, he entered a fake address and swear words into the system.

Laurence, in turn, said that this account is not correct and that he was “depriv[ed] of due process” by the officers. A property investor based in the Philippines part of the year, Laurence is now permanently banned from entering the country.

“I entered an expletive into the form that wasn’t directed at anyone,” Laurence told Business Insider. “I made a mistake in not properly filling out the form but I do not believe that this mistake warrants a person of permanent ban, permanent blacklisting.”

Here is what will get you banned from the Philippines (and many other foreign countries)

According to the immigration office, the officers who were dealing with Laurence at the time he tried to enter the country gave him several chances to cooperate but ultimately determined the behavior to be worthy of a ban.

The Philippines allows travel bans to be given out over behavior deemed as “disrespectful” to the country but, in 2023, only 44 foreign nationals were banned from entering the country on such grounds compared to the eight million who came without incident.

“We expect all individuals to conduct themselves with respect and adhere to the established procedures,” Tasingco said further. “Any violation of these procedures will be dealt with firmly.”

While different countries have different parameters for behavior that warrants an entry ban (foreign nationals entering the U.S. can be deemed “inadmissible” for reasons having to do with drugs, violent crimes and unlawful presence in the country), disrespectful behavior will rarely go over well no matter which country one visits.

In 2010, a British man who posted a joke about wanting to “blow up the airport” after getting stranded there in a snowstorm led to both an arrest and a lifetime travel ban from the airport.

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