It might seem like celebrities get special treatment wherever they go. But all the money and fame in the world means nothing when an entire country decides they aren’t welcome.
Stars like Richard Gere, Harrison Ford, Bjork, and Jon Bon Jovi are all too familiar with how easy it is to get banned from China. All you have to do is publicly support Tibetan independence or the Dalai Lama. Canada doesn’t take kindly to DUIs which means that a good chunk of Hollywood elite, including 50 Cent, Michelle Rodriguez, and even native son Keanu Reeves are technically forbidden from crossing into The Great White North.
The actors and musicians on this list all found themselves eighty-sixed from their destinations for a variety of reasons. Often, the ban is politically motivated, particularly in nations that are ruled by strict religious law. Sometimes, the star’s over-the-top behavior is to blame. Occasionally, the celebrity in question has been convicted of a crime that the country’s government can’t abide. As far as border control is concerned, a platinum record or hit movie does not trump a police record.
Whatever the reason, it has usually resulted in the star having to cancel public appearances and change their travel plans posthaste.
Here are 18 Stars Who Are Banned From Entering Other Countries.
18 Martha Stewart – The U.K.
Don’t expect to see Martha and Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party: U.K. Edition any time soon. The Goddess of Homemaking may have thought she had put all her legal troubles behind her after she completed a 5-month prison sentence for her 2004 felony conviction of insider trading, lying and impeding a federal investigation.
But in 2008, when the Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia founder arrived in the United Kingdom to give a speech at the Royal Academy, she was turned away at the border. Apparently, the U.K. Border and Immigration Agency has very high standards for their visiting lifestyle celebrities because they denied her visa citing “serious criminal offenses abroad.” Stewart was forced to cancel her speech as well as a number of business meetings.
17 Beyoncé – Malaysia
It’s safe to say that the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party does not like it and won’t be putting a ring on it. In 2007, they forced internationally celebrated singer Beyoncé to cancel her concert in Malaysia because they were offended by her choreography.
They had initially implemented a dress code for female performers to cover up fully from the shoulders to the knees, thus making it impossible for audiences to fully appreciate Beyoncé’s signature moves. But ultimately, they decided to forbid Queen Bey from even crossing the border, let alone performing.
She tried again 2 years later, but ended up canceling the gig amid protests. Said a source, “Basically, the Ministry wants her to stand in front of the microphone and open her mouth. Just sing and cannot move.”
16 Justin Bieber – China
The Beebs apparently left a bad taste during his 2013 and 2014 visits to China, because when he attempted to bring his tour there in 2017, they were not having it. According to a statement from Beijing’s Municipal Bureau of Culture, "Justin Bieber is a gifted singer. But in order to maintain order in the Chinese market and purify the Chinese performance environment, it is not suitable to bring in badly behaved entertainers."
They are likely referring to the disrespectful photos he took at the Great Wall in 2013 and his reckless skateboarding through Beijing in 2014.
The representative added, “We hope that as Justin Bieber matures, he can continue to improve his own words and actions, and truly become a singer belove by the public."
15 Selena Gomez – Russia & China
Selena Gomez won’t be killing ‘em with kindness in Russia or China any time soon. In September 2016, Russian authorities denied the “Good For You” singer a visa, and she was forced to cancel 2 concerts. She had originally planned to perform at St. Petersburg's Ice Palace and Moscow's Olimiisky Stadium.
Russian government officials cited her reported plans to speak out against the country’s anti-LGBT laws during her shows as their reason for revocation of her visa. In June of that year, the country enacted a law that banned the promotion of “non-traditional sexual relationships to minors.”
Not long after, China denied Gomez a tour visa due to some photos she had taken with the Dalai Lama 2 years prior.
14 Charlie Heaton – U.S.A.
British Stranger Things actor Charlie Heaton, who has played Jonathan Byers in both seasons of the show, was denied entry into the country when drug-sniffing dogs at LAX found traces of cocaine in his luggage.
In October, 2017, Heaton was sent back to the U.K. and missed the premiere party for season 2 of his hit Netflix series. In an official statement, Heaton said, “I do want to clarify that I was not arrested or charged with a crime, and cooperated fully with the U.S. officials at LAX. I’m sorry to all the fans and my Stranger Things family for missing the premiere. We are all so proud of this season and I would never want this story to negatively impact the show.”
13 Hayden Panettiere – Japan
A staunch animal activist, Hayden Panettiere isn't technically banned from entering Japan. However, the Nashville star won’t be visiting any time soon due to an outstanding warrant for her arrest in the country for “violating international commerce” when she interfered with a 2007 dolphin hunt.
Hayden and 5 other activists paddled into the ocean on surfboards in an attempt to impede the hunters. After several minutes of escalating danger, Panettiere’s group was forced to return to shore and concede the lives of the animals.
Following the incident, the actress issued a statement to Access Hollywood saying, “We must unite as a world to solve our increasing international environmental crises. We can no longer hide [behind] outdated, senseless cultural traditions and lazy, bad habits that are resulting in the annihilation of our planet’s resources and the extinction of our species.”
12 Alec Baldwin – Philippines
During a 2009 interview on Late Night with David Letterman, the 30 Rock actor expressed a desire to have more children. Because he was single at the time, he joked that he was “thinking about getting a Filipino mail-order bride at this point… or a Russian one.”
While Russia appeared to take no issue with the comment, the Filipino Bureau of Immigration issued an official statement calling the Hollywood legend an “undesirable alien” and preemptively banned him from entering the country.
In an official statement, Baldwin said, "I apologize for the perceived insensitivity of that remark.” He elaborated that the joke was just meant to "achieve the goal of having more children in [his] life… I believe that most people understood that this was a joke and took it as such."
Perhaps unsurprisingly, this non-apology fell on deaf Filipino ears.
11 Lady Gaga – Indonesia
Muslim countries aren’t particularly fond of Lady Gaga, including Indonesia, where she is considered a corrupting influence. In 2012, Indonesian law enforcement refused to issue a concert permit in Jakarta to the Fame Monster.
FPI Chairman Salim Alatas warned her not to try any funny business. “We will stop her from setting foot on our land. She had better not dare spread her satanic faith in this country… Her style is vulgar; her sexual and indecent clothes will destroy our children’s sense of morality. She’s very dangerous.”
Alatas apparently didn’t realize that it was too late to save the moral fiber of the 53,000 fans who had purchased tickets. The concert had been sold out for months but officials didn’t drop the bomb until 3 weeks prior.
10 Gigi Hadid – China
In 2017, supermodel Gigi Hadid stirred up controversy when her sister posted a video to Instagram of Hadid holding up a cookie shaped like Buddha and squinting her eyes. After the post, the internet was ablaze with criticism over her insensitivity, saying that her actions perpetuated stereotypes. Though the video was later deleted, the images were screen-capped, giving the incident eternal life on the internet.
Hadid took to the Chinese website Weibo to say, "I want you all to know that it was never my intent to offend anyone through my actions and I sincerely apologize to those who were hurt or felt let down by me.”
But the damage was done. Hadid was banned from traveling to China in order to work the runway at the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. It would have been her 3rd consecutive appearance at the event.
9 Russell Brand – Japan & South Africa
British comedian Russell Brand’s criminal past has been known to put a damper on his travel plans. In 2011, he was visiting his then-wife Katy Perry during her California Dreams tour of Asia and was deported from Japan when they caught wind of his past drug convictions.
Perry took her disappointment to Twitter: “So... my husband just got deported from Japan. I am so. sad. I brought him all this way to show him my favorite place #tokyodreamscrushed.” Meanwhile, Brand attempted to find the humor in the situation when he tweeted, “Planning escape from Japanese custody. It's bloody hard to dig a tunnel with a chopstick.”
He was also once denied entry to South Africa for having run out of passport pages.
8 Katy Perry – China
The “Firework” singer was forced to cancel her appearance at the 2017 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show when the Chinese government caught wind of her apparent support for Taiwanese independence. During a 2015 performance in Taipei, Katy Perry donned a glittery dress that depicted a sunflower. The sunflower had become associated with the Sunflower Student Movement the year before when the group had staged protests against the Cross-Strait Service Trade Agreement.
Perry was initially granted a visa for her show and had solidified plans to travel to Shanghai. But Chinese officials are known for rigorously researching any visiting artist to ensure they have never done anything that might be deemed offensive to the nation. Perry has also waved a Taiwanese flag during concerts, seemingly in support of independence from the Chinese government.
7 Kesha – Malaysia
In 2013, the “Tik-Tok” singer was scheduled to perform in Malaysia, but the country’s government refused to grant her a visa and she was forced to cancel on her fans. Authorities claimed that Kesha act didn’t abide by the country’s predominant religious beliefs and that her visit would "hurt cultural and religious sensitivities” in the Muslim majority country.
Kesha had prior knowledge of their restrictions and had made attempts to alter her lyrics and costumes in accordance with their laws so that she could bring her music to her Malaysian fans. Unfortunately, government officials weren’t satisfied and upheld the ban. Kesha tweeted a frustrated message to her fans, explaining, "To be clear. I did NOT cancel. I was not allowed to play and then I was going to play anyways and was threatened with imprisonment."
6 Chris Brown – The U.K. & Australia
In 2009, the singer was convicted of felony assault for punching his then-girlfriend Rihanna. In 2011, Chris Brown attempted to bring his tour to the U.K., but they denied his visa because his 5-year probation was still in effect.
Though his sentence was concluded by 2015, the Australian Federal Government turned him away citing zero-tolerance for domestic abuse. Brown tried to overturn their decision by volunteering to start a domestic violence awareness campaign. But Australian minister Michaelia Cash didn’t bite, saying, “People need to understand if you are going to commit domestic violence and then you want to travel around the world, there are going to be countries that say to you, ‘You cannot come in because you are not of the character we expect in Australia.'"
Perplexingly, Brown was allowed to play Australia twice while he was still on probation.
5 Paris Hilton – Japan
In 2010, the hotel heiress plead guilty to 2 misdemeanors in regard to cocaine possession in Las Vegas. One month later, Paris Hilton attempted to visit Tokyo on a promotional tour for her fashion and perfume lines.
Japan has strict rules about allowing foreigners on probation to enter their country, and Hilton was still serving her year-long probation. She was detained at the airport and held for 6 hours of questioning before being released to an airport hotel.
Officials forced her to cancel her entire trip, which also included stops in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and Jakarta, Indonesia. Before boarding her return flight, she told reporters, "I'm going back home, and I look forward to coming back to Japan in the future… I'm really tired."
4 Miley Cyrus – China & the Dominican Republic
The “Wrecking Ball” singer isn’t known for her racial sensitivity, but a particularly tasteless photo got her banned from China. In the 2009 photo, Cyrus slanted her eyes in a stereotypical fashion, prompting the Chinese foreign minister Yang Jiechi to issued a statement: “Miss Cyrus has made it clear she is no friend of China or anyone of East Asian descent. We have no interest in further polluting our children’s minds with her American ignorance.” When Cyrus apologized and denied racist intent, they lifted the ban.
However, in 2014, Cyrus was under fire again by government officials of the Dominican Republic, who refused to allow her to bring her tour to their country. They objected to her “acts that go against morals and customs, which are punishable by Dominican law.”
3 Martin Scorsese – China
It’s no secret where Martin Scorsese’s sympathies lie in regard to the conflict between Tibet and China. His 1997 film, Kundun gives a sympathetic account of the early life Tenzin Gyatzo, the 14th Dalai Lama – the exiled spiritual and political rival for the Chinese government.
At first, Chinese government officials threatened to ban all Walt Disney Company content, as the House of Mouse owned the producing company Touchstone Pictures. But after a meeting between presidents – Disney’s Michael Ovitz and China’s Jiang Zemin, the government decided just to focus on banning Scorsese and his film.
Scorsese never made any attempts to get back into China’s good graces. Officials also objected to the stolen Chinese goods subplot in The Departed and also the fact that Scorsese utilized the Taiwanese film industry to make 2016’s Silence.
2 Mike Tyson – New Zealand
In 2012, the former heavyweight boxing champion planned to bring his autobiographical one-man show Down Under. Aussie audiences welcomed his tale of serving time in prison and struggling with addiction, but in New Zealand, Associate Immigration Minister Kate Wilkinson had concerns about his 1992 rape conviction and withdrew his visa.
Wilkinson explained, "The original decision in respect of Mr. Tyson was a finely balanced call based on the letter of support from a board member of the Life Education Trust." When the charity pulled the letter, revealing that it had been written by a Life Education Trust volunteer, Wilkinson reversed her decision.
A new application was submitted by the Manukau Urban Maori Authority, but Wilkinson rejected that too, citing the Immigration Act 2009.
1 Snoop Dogg – Australia, The U.K., Norway, & The Netherlands
In 2006, Snoop Dogg was deported from the U.K. when his posse made a stink about being denied entry into Heathrow Airport’s first-class lounge. In protest, they vandalized a duty-free shop and were barred from returning to Great Britain until 2010.
Australia said g’day to the rapper in 2007 when the Minister of Immigration decided Snoop didn’t meet the “character requirements” for attaining a visa. Snoop missed performing on the MTV Australia Video Music Awards.
Snoop was scheduled to headline the Netherland’s 2010 Parkpop festival when The Hague's mayor asked organizers to replace him with a more “open and friendly character.”
In 2012, Norway border agents found Snoop was carrying 8 grams of marijuana and cash exceeding the legal limit. They fined him 52,000 kroner and, though they allowed him to play the Hove Festival, he was barred from returning to the country for 2 years.
Do you know of any other stars who are banned from entering certain countries? Let us know in the comments!