Passport stamps have long been a sort of souvenir of our trips abroad. And the fact that they are bound to our own passport makes them way more valuable than any other souvenir. While a magnet or a postcard can be something someone else gave us, with the stamps there is no doubt: They are on our passport and so we are the ones who have been to all those places. For a long time, globetrotters have proudly shown their stamps to family and friends. But now something is changing. Many countries are no more bothering to stamp passports and are using more efficient and time-saving methods to track travelers, such as biometric technology, self-service kiosks, or RFID chip technology.
Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Hong Kong, Israel, and Macao are just some examples of countries not issuing a stamp anymore. These countries are now issuing landing slips as a documentation. However, there are many people that really desire a stamp every time they travel. Fortunately, in many cases they can still request one at the airport or at a tourist office. Although many travelers will miss the old classic stamp, the new methods are obviously more efficient as they help reduce lines at immigration checkpoints and they also save room in travelers’ space. Additionally, with all these new technological advances, passports are more difficult to forge.
When a passport stamp gets you in trouble
Getting a stamp is not always necessarily a good thing. In the past few months, passport stamps have caused some chaos among British travelers. According to the Brexit agreement, British nationals living in the EU do not need to get a stamp on their passport when re-entering the Union, if they are able to prove that they are residents or that they have applied for a residence permit. But according to POLITICO, at the beginning of 2021 there were many border officials stamping Brits’ passports, confusing these people with tourists. This error could question the right of these people to stay in the Schengen area once the 3-month visa free travel period agreed between the EU and the UK is over.
But stamps on Brits’ passports are not the only dangerous ones. There have been cases of passengers who have been denied boarding a flight just because of a suspected stamp. What happened last year to Tina Sibley is an emblematic example. The British woman was denied flying on a Qatar Airways flight in Thailand because of a Machu Pichu stamp she had in her passport. The woman went to the British embassy in Thailand, which refused to replace her passport since it was still valid. The officers told her to fly with another airline. However, even Emirates refused to let the woman board the plane. After some hours spent at the embassy, Sibley finally managed to get an emergency passport from the officers.
If you do not want to find yourself in her same situation, you should probably avoid marking your own passport by yourself. And if you are a US citizen, you should read carefully what is stated on page 5 of your passport. There, it is written that only authorized officials of the United States or of foreign countries may place stamps or make notations or additions to this passport. It’s clear that you cannot give yourself a stamp on your passport.
All these stamps are pretty cool, but if you are then denied boarding a plane, they just become very annoying. So instead, why not buying a travel journal and collect these souvenir stamps there?