Not getting passport stamped when entering USA from abroad

  • I (a US citizen) recently returned from a trip abroad. When I entered the US via San Francisco (SFO), I had to do a bunch of stuff at a machine: scan my passport, answer a few questions, and take my picture. Then I received a receipt from the machine with a bunch of info on it.

    When I walked up to the US Customs Officer, he stamped my receipt, but not my passport. When I got my luggage and passed through the last part of customs, the stamped receipt was taken.

    What's the deal? In the past, I would usually get an ADMITTED stamp in my passport.

    I asked the man why can't I have a stamp in my US Passport and he said `We do not stamp American passports in the United States`. This was in Atlanta.

    I agree with Mark answer. I am a US Citizen so is my wife and we traveled to the Dominican Republic 2 years ago and our passports got stamped at JFK when we cameback. We traveled again in 8/2016 and our passports didnt get stamped this time but the kiosk print out. It looks like they are recording your entry electronically. Plus your US passport last 10 years, imagine if you get a stamp every time, you will run out of page.

    @user49890 even if you leave and enter the US four times a year and allow four stamps per page, the US stamps would only use up ten pages, which is less than half. But most passport holders probably travel less frequently than that, and having more than four stamps per page is quite common, at least in my passport, so running out of pages is not a problem for most people.

  • Willeke

    Willeke Correct answer

    6 years ago

    As US citizen you do not need a stamp in your passport, as you belong to the country. It is foreigners who need a stamp in their passport, as they can be asked to proof their right to be in the USA if stopped for whatever reason. Especially proof they did not overstay their visa and did not arrive illegally.

    Most countries in Europe never gave stamps to their own citizens, nor do they give stamps to other EU citizens. As their citizens and those of other EU countries do not need visa and do not have limits on the time they can spend in the other EU countries.

    Within Europe many, or even most, Europeans travel with their ID cards. Those do not have space for stamps. But even when I traveled with a passport I never received a stamp when traveling within the EU, or its predecessors. These days I keep a passport for travels outside Europe, and use my ID card for travels within Europe. The Chinese border control people must have met more Europeans without stamps in their passports, even passports a few years old.

    Interesting. When I travel with my parents I guess they stamp my book because we go through the non-US citizens line so they just stamp everyone's passport.

    I have been told recently that the USA is/used to be an exception on the 'citizens do not get a stamp' rule.

    I'm a US citizen and I've had my passport stamped every time I reenter the country. Most recently last December. If things have changed, I guess it must be since then.

    I am also a US citizen, flying in & out multiple times each year and rarely get stamped. This has been the case for many years. I think it depends on where you enter exit and frequency of travel. For folks who travel frequently, they don't stamp and use up your pages. For folks who travel infrequently, they do stamp.

    If you intend to travel to China within the next year it's a good idea to specifically request passport stamping at border control every time you enter or leave a country. Otherwise Chinese border control is likely to detain you and repeatedly ask why there's no passport stamp corresponding to the time period you were in a non-stamping country.

    Regarding your last comment on passports within Europe: It's actually a rule in the EU (e.g. in the Schengen Borders code but I believe it applies more broadly) that the travel documents of EU citizens (and a few other categories of people) *should not* be stamped, even if you ask (although in this case, only Belgium followed the rule scrupulously).

    @Relaxed That's interesting, because a dual US-EU national might like the proof of being outside the US for income tax exemption. (Of course, you can also prove this with airline tickets, but the passport can be a one-stop calendar.)

    @Relaxed "although in this case, only Belgium followed the rule scrupulously" Sweden does too I can testify. I'm Swedish, and it's only there that they consistently refuse to stamp the blank stamp sheet I sometimes bring on trips. Mind you, it's usually easier to get EU countries to stamp a sheet than an EU passport.

    @AndrewLazarus such a person could enter the EU with the US passport to get a stamp.

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