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My boyfriend (Irish citizenship) just got back his passport from Russia with his tourist visa in it. But whoever stuck the visa sticker in covered his visa stamp from China (also tourist visa) from his trip 2 years ago. Both trips he travels with family. All other pages in his passport are completely empty so there was no issue of space.

Why would they want to cover a stamp? Isn't that illegal?

  • Out of interest is the Chinese stamp still valid? – Uciebila May 23 at 9:53
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    @Uciebila not it's not still valid. – Niamh O'SS May 23 at 11:08
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    The "Why" part of this is unanswerable; but the legality part is fine. Voting to leave open. – David Richerby May 23 at 11:33
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That was not very courteous, but visa stamps covering each other is not illegal and certainly won't make the passport invalid. Some overlap is actually pretty common:

source: commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Passport_pages_8-9.jpg

It is a common courtesy to place visa and stamps on a blank spot/page but not a requirement. Visa that get covered by other stamps and stickers may lose their validity when they can no longer be read by immigration officials though. If the Chinese visa was still valid it might now need replacement before a future trip to China.

In general immigration officials will place visa, entry and exit stamps in such a way that their entries will be readable. That readability requirement is also the reason that some countries require an blank page as one of the conditions to award you a visa in the first place. (And that is also why it recommended to consider replacing a passport when you start to run out of blank pages.) Usually that means they won't cover (much) of entries made by other countries.

Visa printed on adhesive stickers won't suffer from reduced readability when they are placed over existing visa and stamps, but they will certainly make it nigh impossible to read those they cover.

  • Can you imagine why someone might want to cover another stamp? – Niamh O'SS May 23 at 11:27
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    Hanlon's razor: "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity." – HBruijn May 23 at 11:33
  • I'm inclined to believe that it was just an accident but I can't help but feel as though it's peculiar that out of 66 visa pages, the person decided to stick it on that page. – Niamh O'SS May 23 at 11:41
  • @NiamhO'SS given that the accepted passports tend to get visas attached in bulk, it's plausible that in both cases the visa got attached to a page the book naturally opens to. – origimbo May 23 at 12:20
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    It would be unfortunate if the 'below' visa was still relevant and needed; but I have to agree with @HBruijn that it was probably not with any kind of malice, as it has happened to me before (Oman under Nepal). – Mikey May 23 at 18:17

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