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 didn’t 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 doesn’t even stamp passports anymore; 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.
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.
With the increased use of RFID chips to scan passports when entering a country, stamping your passport is probably going to become 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