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I am currently travelling in the USA and when checking in on the boarding flight to enter the country, the security personnel attached a small yellow-white sticker to my passport (see a somewhat terrible photo below):

This happened on Stockholm Arlanda (ARN) when I was waiting in queue for check in, and by one of the security personnel that inquired about my business in USA.

Does this have any special meaning? Why would they do it anyway? Can I take it away before I leave the country, or should it stay on?

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I can give an answer to this because this happens to me very regularly, for a good reason.

Typically for holders of US / UK / European / Australian / NZ passports, a wide range of countries do not require a visa in advance, or often issue them on arrival. If you're travelling within North America or Europe where these visa rules are well-known, an airline simply checks you in.

The security clearance sticker is used whenever the airline has a liability to carry you back to your origin in case you're denied entry. Many countries require you to pass through passport control both when leaving and entering the country. In UK and Europe however, passport control is done at many airports only when you enter the country, not when you leave.

I hold an Indian passport, which means that for most destinations I need to get a visa. If I ever end up in a situation where I go to a country and I'm denied entry, the airline is obligated to fly me back. For this reason, airlines run their visa checks for passport holders whom they know need a visa, and upon validation, they paste this sticker. Don't take this sticker off until you reach your destination because in case of any queries - for instance, staff at the boarding gate may want to confirm your visa status - airline staff check for this sticker to see whether you've been cleared for boarding.

ICTS International (that's the corporate name; at airports, I've seen employees wearing badges that read 'i-Sec') is one of those companies that a lot of airlines hire out this task to; another company that airlines outsource this task to is CheckPoint. Some airlines carry out their own checks and use the same sticker system too.

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Not sure of this. I have 2 passports: an EU and a Canadian one. I got a new Canadian passport while on the EU, and while boarding on a (direct) Air Canada flight from Venice to Toronto they applied the sticker. By having a Canadian passport I wasn't risking being rejected in any way (that was my outgoing flight) –  Qualcuno Feb 16 at 22:46
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I swear to god Mr. Banerjee if I would have not read this here today, I would have died without knowing this beautiful piece of information. Plus, I hate those stickers, so I keep removing them. Guess I gotta be more careful! +1 Thanks! –  Aditya Somani Jun 12 at 5:48
    
It's nothing to do with needing or not needing a visa. I get those stickers on my passport every time I fly from the UK to north America even though, as a UK citizen, I don't need a visa. I don't remember if I get them while flying within the EU. –  David Richerby Jul 2 at 21:03
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It says "ICTS", so this was attached by the company providing security services for certain airports in US. This is probably to mean that you have undergone security checks and had passport checked there. I had similar stickers attached to my passport when travelling in China, as well.

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