How to (almost) get denied entry into Bermuda

IMGP7113To paraphrase the esteemed Dean Vermer, Unshaven, untucked and ignorant is no way to go through immigration, son. This is the lesson I learned on Friday as I navigated the HMC gauntlet entering Bermuda.

Indeed, I was a bit scruffy looking. I hadn’t shaved in 4 days or so and the gray stubble was showing quite nicely. Also, it was a rather early morning for the 8am flight out of JFK so I slept most of the flight over and I probably looked the worse for it. Most egregious, however, was that my travel habits apparently do not mesh with those of the typical Bermudian visitor.

How long am I staying? Only one night.

That was bad.

Where am I staying? With a friend.

This was worse.

What is the friend’s address? I do not know.


Much like Nickelodeon, saying I don’t know to a Bermudian Customs officer is a recipe for disaster. I had the street address and I knew where the office was that I was meeting the guy, but I didn’t have the full address of the apartment and I didn’t know the last name of the guy who owns the apartment I was staying at. They REALLY do not like that sort of answer.

There were many other questions and at least one Google search based on showing the guy my business card for this site. My bags were thoroughly inspected (nothing particularly strange about that) and, eventually, I was able to get a mobile phone number for the Customs guy to call my friend and verify my story. It only took about 45 minutes to clear up the confusion and I eventually got in and took care of what I was in Bermuda to do.

But hearing the guy say, “I’m really uncomfortable with letting you in based on what you’ve explained so far,” was definitely a bit of a jolt to the system.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. Ha. Try an immediate turn. Did that in July during US’ hop, skip & jump promo. “How long will you be staying in Bermuda?” Oh, about three hours. That was interesting.

  2. US Immigrations probably wouldn’t like some of those answers either. That’ said, I always find it weird when customs/immigration forms ask for an address since I often will only spend the first night or so there.

  3. If you give these kind of answers in China, they actually have a sign that says they’ll escort you to the police station. One time, i had to bite the bullet and roam on my iPhone, but the $5 of data was well worth it!

  4. It is the same in many places. I almost got denied entry to Canada for similar issues. Worse still my ticket had been reissued the day before I turned up at the border (but same date due to international dateline) – even though I’d booked several weeks earlier it appeared to them as a last minute purchase.

  5. It is kind of funny because up until a few years ago, there basically were no street addresses in Bermuda (outside of Hamilton and St. George’s). You just gave the house’s name (every house had a name) and a description of where it was located (“up behind X” or “on Y hill”), plus the parish name and a nearby village, if any.

    Mainly, they are looking for drug couriers.

  6. I can understand why I might have looked like a drug courier. I was actually there to be a courier of a couple hard drives from Bermuda to Masachusetts so the general idea fits though the actual merchandise was rather more legit.

    And I’m neither surprised nor disappointed that they did it; just another entertaining travel experience and the closest I’ve ever been to getting denied entry when I really was otherwise OK to enter. Such is life.

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