The Stamps You Should Never Get In Your Passport

by SharonKurheg

For decades, it’s been a rite of passage. Go to a country, get another stamp in your passport. Personally, I love it and on the few occasions I’ve gone to a country and they didn’t stamp my passport for whatever reason, I asked them to.

There are, of course, some countries that people might be hesitant to get stamps from. During the decades when U.S. citizens were banned from going to Cuba, some still visited by going through Canada or other countries. Those people usually requested they not get a Cuba stamp on their passports, for fear of what could happen when they returned to the U.S. Others choose to not get stamps from some Middle Eastern countries for fear of not being allowed into other Middle Eastern countries. Israel hasn’t stamped passports for years; they give you an entry visa on a piece of paper.

All that being said, there are some stamps you probably should never get in your passport.

Souvenir ones.

When you go to certain tourist attractions, especially parks, temples and historic sites, there will sometimes be vendors who will, for a fee (of course), stamp your passport with a souvenir stamp.

There are just 3 problems with them:

  • 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. The chances are minimal, but legally, you could potentially go to jail for marking up a passport with things that shouldn’t be there.
  • Some countries (or just a border worker with a stick up their nether regions) could potentially not allow you to enter the countries because your passport has been defaced or altered because it as unofficial stamps in it. They could also stop you from getting a visa. Click here to see an example of a visa refused because of an “unofficial stamp.”
  • The U.S. no longer issues extra pages for passports. So if you run out of pages, you have to order a new one, even if it hasn’t expired yet. So there’s another reason to not fill your passport up with unofficial stamps – you’ll have to spend money to get a whole new passport.

With the increased use of RFID chips to scan passports when entering a country, stamping your passport is already becoming less and less of a “thing.”  Regardless of how that goes, souvenir stamps can be fun to get and are a nice reminder of your trip. Just don’t put them in your passport. Some people buy a notebook specifically for their souvenir stamps and it works out great.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


choster March 5, 2020 - 4:03 pm

I thought that sentence sounded familiar.

SharonKurheg March 5, 2020 - 4:18 pm

That’s weird – I thought I had seen it on flickr and it was OK to use (with credit given – which I had done). I’ve changed the post. Thanks for the heads up!

Mark Mayo March 5, 2020 - 4:17 pm

Hey, it’d be great if you could cite stackexchange when you lift large portions of it. Eg for this article.

SharonKurheg March 5, 2020 - 4:20 pm

Thanks for the heads up. As I replied to choster earlier, for some reason I thought it was from flickr and used it with their limited reuse license (I had given them credit). I’ve already removed the photo and give a link to stackexchange instead. Thanks again!

SO_CAL_RETAIL_SLUT March 14, 2020 - 2:48 pm

The DDR – what an awful, horrible place until the wall came down. I’m getting the creeps knowing that soon – maybe November – we’ll see – that we’ll be flying into/out of the “new” Brandenburg airport – what I still refer to as Schonefeld – and all the Interflug and Aerflot old timer aircraft strewn about.

To me – it will always be the DDR – but that’s from someone who’s family was “stuck” in the DDR back in the day.

Hopefully, Tegel will remain open in some form – probably the ultra discount carriers such as EasyJet and Ryanair may be able to continue to operate at Tegel.


James M October 31, 2021 - 2:59 pm

After I left college, I went backpacking in Europe in 1971 when I was age 22. I visited East Berlin for a day just walking around and I got a ‘Checkpoint Charlie’ stamp in my passport when I re-entered West Berlin. I took many pictures of the Wall on the Eastern side. Very sad to see all the ruins that had yet to be repaired and the poorly stocked stores.

When I entered East Berlin the VoPo border guard lady wanted to know why I had 6 large Snickers candy bars with me. I told her for snacking. I even offered her one, but she declined. Any sugar product was next to impossible for the average DDR citizen to get back then. I took the train from Helmstadt to West Berlin and along the route many East German children were waving and shouting. I threw many candy bars out my train window and not one went to waste.

Michael April 28, 2023 - 3:34 pm

“Some countries (or just a border worker with a stick up their nether regions) could potentially not allow you to enter the countries because your passport has been defaced or altered because it as unofficial stamps in it.”

That’s a pretty rude statement to make, Border “workers” have a job to do and if you arrive with a defaced passport, maybe with a Disneyworld stamp in it, they may not have room to put an official stamp on the passport, or if you need a free page for a visa, then there is no room …. so, No visa

Passports are not “fun documents” and should be respected, a border “worker” should also be allowed do his /her job without those kind of comments

SharonKurheg April 29, 2023 - 12:05 pm

Thank you for your assumptions. We’ve dealt with border workers who refused to accommodate requests that were documented as being OK. So, assuming there more than enough pages left over for visas, stamps, etc, some really do appear to have a stick up their butts and refuse, “just because.”

But you’re right – passports are not intended to be “fun” documents, loaded with unofficial stamps. However some people who may not travel often may think those stamps are OK. That’s why I wrote the piece.


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