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Border guards check your passport stamps to see any previous record of overstay in their country when deciding to permit or deny you entry.

If so, then what do they do when you present a newly issued passport that has zero passport stamps? All sins forgiven (hidden)?

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  • I renewed one of my passports a couple of years ago. Despite a fair bit of travel it took over a year to get its first stamp since most countries I visited do this all electronically these days. In the spirit of the question: Most "desirable" countries don't stamp anymore (depending on your nationality that is) so the question is based on a partially incorrect premise..
    – Hilmar
    Mar 3, 2023 at 5:27
  • @Hilmar What's a “desirable” country and how many do you count? Practice seems to be haphazard but the 27 Schengen members are still supposed to stamp third-country national documents. Last I know, Turkey or Balkan countries do it too. In fact, the US is the only country I have visited recently that has stopped stamping my passport (haven't been to the UK since it left the EU).
    – Relaxed
    Mar 3, 2023 at 7:52
  • @Relaxed: What's "desirable" is what the OP is asking, I just assume that means "picky" countries like Schengen, UK. North America, Australia+NZ etc . This being said having been to the US may not make you friends at the Russian border, who knows ? Interestingly enough I have one stamp from New Zealand but none from Australia.
    – Hilmar
    Mar 3, 2023 at 9:50
  • @Hilmar Then from this list the vast majority of them do still stamps passports (that's 27 Schengen countries out of 32-33, don't know about Mexico).
    – Relaxed
    Mar 3, 2023 at 15:36

3 Answers 3

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Almost every country has computerized system for border controls now. So, whenever they scan the passport front page, all the details are immediately available on immigration officer's computer screen. Based on that they will ask questions and decide if you can be allowed entry.

It is trivial to match you with a previous passport by matching your name, date of birth and photo. This will be the case even if you acquire a different citizenship. Some countries list the older passport numbers in back page, to make this easier. They may even have your fingerprint.

So, in any case, only the passport is new. You are still you and your sins are still in their system. If you lie, they have mechanism to find it and the outcome will be much worse than telling the truth the first time. You may sometimes get away with this, but risks really outweigh any benefits you may obtain.

Notable points

  • Some countries like US and UK doesn't have an exit control. So, your departure is marked only on the computer records. No evidence in your passport says you didn't overstay. (May be a another country's entry stamp)
  • Some countries like Singapore and Australia doesn't paste visa or stamp passports anymore. So, no evidence on visual inspection of the passports.
  • Many countries routinely share immigration data with each other. Your 'sins' will follow you around.
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  • Not all countries include the list of older passport numbers in a new passport. Mar 3, 2023 at 2:26
  • Can you cite an example? Mar 3, 2023 at 3:08
  • 2
    The passport conventions never required previous passport numbers be be listed in new passports. The United Kingdom did this in the 1950's to enforce the Exchange Control Act, 1947. Germany never added previous passport numbers. Assume that this is country specific. Mar 3, 2023 at 4:17
  • 3
    I would still recomment editing away the “Many countries” in the last bullet point, it's not correct. Also, none of this is legally conceived as a “punishment”. Refusing entry or even banning someone is a preventive measure based on a risk/benefit analysis for the country. This distinction is consequential: The standard of evidence or remedies available in criminal law do not readily apply to immigration decisions and the burden of proof can be reversed.
    – Relaxed
    Mar 3, 2023 at 9:19
  • 2
    @user610620 Yes, REGULATION (EC) No 1987/2006 (on the establishment, operation and use of the second generation Schengen Information System (SIS II)): Article 39 Transfer of personal data to third parties Data processed in SIS II pursuant to this Regulation shall not be transferred or made available to third countries or to international organisations. Mar 14, 2023 at 21:43
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then what do they do when you present a newly issued passport that has zero passport stamps?

For the Schengen Area: nothing, since after 90 days outside, the border control is not interested in the previous periods you stayed in the Schengen Area.

If you are leaving the Schengen Area, without an entry stamp, you are required to prove when you entered (otherwise an overstay will be assumed).

Once the Entry/Exit System (EES) is introduced (possibly 2024), passport stamps will no longer be needed since the travel history will be stored electronically.


The original passport conventions never foresaw that the 'Visa' pages would be used as a travel record.

Until after the 1990's, it was unheard of for a country to ask for a previous passport for a visa application.

Some countries even didn't allow people to keep a previous passport, so supplying one would not have been possible.

Things evolve with time.

Soon the present day passport books will be replaced with some form of passport card based on ICAO Document 9303 ID-1/TD1, which most European ID cards allready support (National identity cards in the European Economic Area - Wikipedia).

The Babylon 5 Identicard will then become reality.

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  • The allowable stay in the Schengen area is reset to 90 days after having been out for 90 days, not 180.
    – phoog
    Mar 3, 2023 at 7:57
  • @phoog The allowed stay yes, but not the day count (from the previous text). Changed text to make it clearer what the border control is really interested in. Mar 3, 2023 at 8:23
  • My understanding is that it’s ETIAS which is postponed to 2024 but EES is still (currently m) scheduled for November 2023. But that has been postponed so many times…
    – jcaron
    Mar 3, 2023 at 9:52
  • Do you have a source for "For the Schengen Area: nothing, since after 90 days outside, the border control is not interested in the previous periods you stayed in the Schengen Area"? This sounds hard to believe.
    – user610620
    Mar 4, 2023 at 15:31
  • @user610620 The Schengen Border Code Article 6 (1). Mar 4, 2023 at 16:01
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If so, then what do they do when you present a newly issued passport that has zero passport stamps? All sins forgiven (hidden)?

You have to make a distinction between your legal position and how enforcement works in practice. Getting a new passport only changes how likely border guards are to realize that you have overstayed but it doesn't mean you have a right to stay longer.

Border guards can still look up information about your comings and goings in any computer system they might have. As explained in the answers to your other questions, passports are not used for that and this scenario provides a very good reason why it would be a bad idea: You don't want to make the retention of this information dependent on random actions by foreign countries like a renewing a passport.

If there is a formal ban, you're very likely to be found out based on your name and date of birth (that's kind of the point of a ban and one difference with simply being denied entry).

Outside of these situations, it's entirely possible that border guards fail to notice, say, an earlier stay or even a violation or overstay after you changed your passport. It doesn't mean that you have the right to stay longer than you would with your old passport but simply that you're getting away with something that would otherwise have resulted in being denied entry. Think of it like speeding in a place where there is no speed camera or parking illegally.

All this is especially relevant in the Schengen area. Since the borders between member countries are open and there is limited information shared between countries, the Schengen Borders Code traditionally relied primarily on passport stamps to enforce maximum stay rules. A border guard can easily be unaware of an earlier stay in another country in the area. This has been bothering people for a long time and that's the reason why the EU is rolling out the Entry-Exit System.

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  • Why is there limited information shared between Schengen countries? I thought they share alot about foreigners.
    – user610620
    Mar 4, 2023 at 15:30
  • @user610620 Mostly the costs and time to upgrade systems used at hundreds of border crossing points (some of them with limited communication infrastructure) across 27 countries. There are also some legal concerns around privacy but there is a broad agreement that those can be set aside for law enforcement purposes.
    – Relaxed
    Mar 5, 2023 at 11:06
  • When a website like amazon.com updates itself, the cost of that upgrade is virtually $0. All international users see the update instantly.
    – user610620
    Mar 6, 2023 at 18:04
  • @user610620 Even where there is no cell coverage?
    – Relaxed
    Mar 7, 2023 at 13:21
  • Yup. internet on desktop pc.
    – user610620
    Mar 14, 2023 at 21:33

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