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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 '14 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 '14 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 '14 at 19:36
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    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. – Nean Der Thal Apr 24 '14 at 0:15
  • Not every Middle Eastern country is sensitive about Israeli stamps though it is good to check. (The UAE specifically says on its website that it doesn't care.) The posters are right about legal ministates--no problems at all. I got an Andorra one on request at the border, paid for a San Marino one, received a free stamp at the Monaco tourist office and 40+ years ago a Liechtenstein one when they still did those "for real." With all these nobody ever cared. My funniest page is from the '60s when I was at the Austrian-West German border and they still stamped passports. – user52651 Oct 19 '16 at 0:10
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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. 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 s/he'll think something is "off" and refer you to the most persnickety bureaucrat you've ever encountered.


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.

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.

  • You could always place these stamps on partially-filled pages. – Jonathan Landrum Apr 23 '14 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 '14 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 '14 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 '14 at 20:39
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    Excellent answer, and +1 for "the most persnickety bureaucrat you've ever encountered." – Burhan Khalid Sep 17 '14 at 6:54
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Finland is notorious for systematic inspections of passports of visa applicants with the purpose of finding such stamps.

Finnish visa refusal note

The passport above is one received back by a visa applicant with the note that says: Respected sir/madam, hereby we communicate it to you that your passport is not a valid travel document because of the following defect found in it: unofficial stamp on p. 9. Your visa application will be with the visa section of the Consulate General in the status of "temporarily suspended". If until 30/9 you bring a rectified/new passport, a visa will be issued for the consular fee you already paid.

Moreover, they even apply this policy to memorial stamps that border guards in UAE place to travelers' passport, despite the fact that travelers have no option to decline them.

Of course, if you don't need a visa, Finnish border guards won't care, which comes in accordance to the principle of fairness and equal treatment of all individuals. Such stamps are also issued in Finland itself.

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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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    A friend had problems with a border guard in the ME because they thought the Nepali trekking permit looked like Hebrew and so was evidence of a visit to Israel. – NobodySpecial Sep 18 '14 at 4:14
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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.

2

Andorra does stamps too but that's a proper country as is Monaco. Most border officials don't look at the stampage. I've got a lot of stamps and only 4 times have border guards taken an interest,

  1. Walking over the Montenegro/Croatian border a Croatian border guard looked but it was only out of interest in all the palaces I'd been,

  2. At Beirut but looking for Israeli stamps (in old passport!),

  3. Israel!

  4. Harwich to Hoek van Holland ferry in Harwich (England to Netherlands) again think he was just interested in the places I'd been.

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Don't get these. My friend was almost denied boarding an international flight because of a fake Machu Picchu passport stamp. Taiwan has rejected several people from entry for fake stamps as well.

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    Thanks for your 'second hand personal experience' answer. – Willeke Oct 10 at 16:32
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Got one in Ushuaia at the tourist booth showing a map of the island because it was personally meaningful, know it is at best semi-official. (The Port Lockroy, Antarctica, stamp next to it is slightly more genuine.) Never had a bit of trouble with it but then I have a fair number of stamps and it is in dark ink so it doesn't stamp out. Got tourist office ones from Monaco and on request at the Andorra border, as well as on request in some Caribbean ports, and the Barbados one says "immigration-souvenir"--again, no issues whatsoever. I've heard that Finland can give problems with clearly unofficial ones, but I suspect it comes down to whoever sees them and how they feel. Many years ago I was traveling by bus to and through Nicaragua and Honduras. Read that passport stamps from Communist countries made entry invalid to these nations, and I had plenty from Eastern Europe. I figured roadside border people wouldn't notice, and indeed they did not. Best advice I can give is to not over do it, and stay away from bright weird ones.

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