Are there consequences to stamps in my passport that are not from border control?

  • I’m on a trip in Japan. I've seen many touristic places that offer stamps, many temples have it as a free souvenir. This is not the first time I’ve seen this type of souvenir, I also saw the same stamps at The Tall Ships Races 2012 Lisboa. It was a big concentration of tall sails ships. There every ship had a stamp for a fake Passport, mostly for kids.

    I would like to know if I stamp my passport with one of this stamps I will have problems of any kind with border security?

    samples of stamps: enter image description here

    I don't have the one from Japan but I have one from Liechtenstein and never had any problems with border crossings.

    @Karlson The stamps you can obtain from Lichtenstein and San Marino, I think, are from government authorities, and would thus be permitted, the only difference being you get the stamp at the post office instead of a kiosk. If there are any problems, they would surely arrive from the fake stamps you can get in the Galapagos or Cornwall.

    I have one from Laos that I got at a post office, because it was the only government facility in the area. It was questionably legit.

    It could cause a problem indeed as mentioned in the answer by choster. Anyway I keep my old void passport (you know, with holes in it) to use it for such things. It is safe and at the same time let me collect these unofficial stamps without worrying.

    Not every Middle Eastern country is sensitive about Israeli stamps though it is good to check. (The UAE specifically says on its website that it doesn't care.) The posters are right about legal ministates--no problems at all. I got an Andorra one on request at the border, paid for a San Marino one, received a free stamp at the Monaco tourist office and 40+ years ago a Liechtenstein one when they still did those "for real." With all these nobody ever cared. My funniest page is from the '60s when I was at the Austrian-West German border and they still stamped passports.

    Border security: likely no but if you plan to become a Canadian citizen, I would avoid this. Laws are changing but under the laws I was made one, I was asked about every. single. stamp. in my passports (expired one too) and my best friend who got her citizenship about a year prior also had to endure this. Both of us had two passport books pretty full. It took a long time.

  • choster

    choster Correct answer

    7 years ago

    Your passport is an official government document, and when marked for any non-official purposes (like collecting a souvenir stamp), you are technically defacing or altering it. In theory you could have it voided (or worse), or in theory, an immigration official could refuse to admit you if they believed that it was a signal the document was in any way invalid.

    In practical terms, there are many places in the world that issue many thousands of unofficial stamps. I know they are popular to get at Checkpoint Charlie, various Antarctica stations, Timbuktu, Easter Island, and other iconic world locations. I got one myself at Machu Picchu, which raised no eyebrows at any of the half-dozen countries I visited subsequent to Peru. I've never heard any firsthand accounts of problems, and tend to think that if it were indeed a serious issue, the guidebooks and State Department advisories would include a mention of it.

    On the other hand, that stamp was the only non-official one— and what does hold you up at immigration is a passport full of unusual stamps. The more of these meaningless stamps you collect, the longer it takes for the agent to find a blank page, and the more likely s/he'll think something is "off" and refer you to the most persnickety bureaucrat you've ever encountered.


    While it's cool to have a full passport, I try not to think of mine as a souvenir. Above all, it is a working document that I need in order to travel. Some countries require entire pages to be blank before they will issue you a visa; I've had some flip through to find a blank page just to stamp me in. As a result, I'm extremely wary of filling up any more squares or pages than strictly necessary— and I only travel internationally once or twice a year.

    For souvenir stamps such as those you collect at museums, temples, national parks, hostels, distilleries, and so on, I would simply invest in a small journal or passbook. These don't expire, aren't subject to the whims of any officious officials, and are entirely yours to mark up however you wish.

    You could always place these stamps on partially-filled pages.

    If you are a US citizen, what happened in Seville is a little surprising. Did you leave the Schengen area through the same country? Weren't you asked about it when leaving?

    @Annoyed I am a US citizen and flew LHR-SVQ/MAD-LHR. I did get a stamp at Barajas exit control.

    The strange thing about it is that the entry stamp is the easiest way to prove you haven't overstayed. Since you left through the same country, they might have used some computerized records but otherwise they would typically ask about it.

    Excellent answer, and +1 for _"the most persnickety bureaucrat you've ever encountered."_

    Great answer. I second the spare notebook/journal idea and have a few brands to recommend: Field Notes and Baron Fig are two of the best options, and both take up very little space.

    @Relaxed Spain does record entries and Exits of non-EU/EFTA nationals for their own use. If choster had exited Schengen through another country that was strict (like the Netherlands), they would likely have been in trouble

    @Coke That's why I asked, the rules about stamping are in any case unambiguous, which is why I find what happened (somewhat) surprising.

    @Relaxed Third country nationals are normally to be stamped. Those with a family member card are not, and as for ordinary residence permits it varies between member states (France, Hungary and Sweden do stamp those, while Germany, Slovenia and Switzerland do not). That said, lazy officers breaking the policy are not uncommon

    @Coke It ought not to vary, as I said the Schengen Borders code is quite clear. But I am also aware that practice sometimes falls short. I am not so sure of the point of all these comments, though, I already know all this and that does not seem relevant to the answer. If you want to discuss this further, ping me on chat.

    As an historical note: when **Checkpoint Charlie** existed, US military there didn't stamp passports. Nor did East German border guards stamp them for day visits.

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM