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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

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I don't have the one from Japan but I have one from Liechtenstein and never had any problems with border crossings. –  Karlson Apr 23 at 16:50
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@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. –  choster Apr 23 at 19:00
    
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. –  Jonathan Landrum Apr 23 at 19:36
    
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. –  MeNoTalk Apr 24 at 0:15

3 Answers 3

up vote 19 down vote accepted

Your passport is an official government document, and when used for any non-official purposes (e.g. 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 he'll think something is "off" and refer you to the most persnickety bureaucrat you've ever encountered.

And 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.

Besides, many countries don't bother to stamp any more— for example, on an LHR-SVQ flight, I expected one, coming non-Schengen to Schengen, but I was just waved through. So your stamp-filled passport isn't even an accurate travelogue.

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.

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You could always place these stamps on partially-filled pages. –  Jonathan Landrum Apr 23 at 19:35
    
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? –  Relaxed Apr 23 at 20:26
    
@Annoyed I am a US citizen and flew LHR-SVQ/MAD-LHR. I did get a stamp at Barajas exit control. –  choster Apr 23 at 20:31
    
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. –  Relaxed Apr 23 at 20:39

Border /visa / status stamps in your passport are of interest to the nation you are attempting to enter. With rare exceptions (Israel vs. some Arab countries) they are of zero interest or legal status elsewhere. Unless you are attempting to claim that a stamp is legitimate for the purposes of employment or immigration fraud it's unlikely that they are going to be a problem.

Don't go overboard, don't overwrite currently-valid official stamps, and definitely avoid politically-sensitive areas and it's unlikely anyone will care. They have bigger fish to fry.

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If I remember correctly, the souvenir shop at Dorasan Station, which is the last stop in South Korea of the erstwhile Seoul-Pyongyang line, has stamps which look like North Korean entry stamps. Such a stamp could cause problems when entering other countries, and I believe they warn tourists about that.

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