I (a US citizen) recently returned from a trip abroad. When I entered the US via San Francisco (SFO), I had to do a bunch of stuff at a machine: scan my passport, answer a few questions, and take my picture. Then I received a receipt from the machine with a bunch of info on it.

When I walked up to the US Customs Officer, he stamped my receipt, but not my passport. When I got my luggage and passed through the last part of customs, the stamped receipt was taken.

What's the deal? In the past, I would usually get an ADMITTED stamp in my passport.

  • I asked the man why can't I have a stamp in my US Passport and he said We do not stamp American passports in the United States. This was in Atlanta.
    – user36351
    Oct 18, 2015 at 6:19
  • I agree with Mark answer. I am a US Citizen so is my wife and we traveled to the Dominican Republic 2 years ago and our passports got stamped at JFK when we cameback. We traveled again in 8/2016 and our passports didnt get stamped this time but the kiosk print out. It looks like they are recording your entry electronically. Plus your US passport last 10 years, imagine if you get a stamp every time, you will run out of page.
    – user49890
    Aug 16, 2016 at 10:57
  • @user49890 even if you leave and enter the US four times a year and allow four stamps per page, the US stamps would only use up ten pages, which is less than half. But most passport holders probably travel less frequently than that, and having more than four stamps per page is quite common, at least in my passport, so running out of pages is not a problem for most people.
    – phoog
    Jun 1, 2018 at 14:57

3 Answers 3


As US citizen you do not need a stamp in your passport, as you belong to the country. It is foreigners who need a stamp in their passport, as they can be asked to proof their right to be in the USA if stopped for whatever reason. Especially proof they did not overstay their visa and did not arrive illegally.

Most countries in Europe never gave stamps to their own citizens, nor do they give stamps to other EU citizens. As their citizens and those of other EU countries do not need visa and do not have limits on the time they can spend in the other EU countries.

Within Europe many, or even most, Europeans travel with their ID cards. Those do not have space for stamps. But even when I traveled with a passport I never received a stamp when traveling within the EU, or its predecessors. These days I keep a passport for travels outside Europe, and use my ID card for travels within Europe. The Chinese border control people must have met more Europeans without stamps in their passports, even passports a few years old.

  • 1
    Interesting. When I travel with my parents I guess they stamp my book because we go through the non-US citizens line so they just stamp everyone's passport.
    – Mark
    Jun 14, 2015 at 17:57
  • 2
    I have been told recently that the USA is/used to be an exception on the 'citizens do not get a stamp' rule.
    – Willeke
    Jun 14, 2015 at 18:01
  • 4
    I'm a US citizen and I've had my passport stamped every time I reenter the country. Most recently last December. If things have changed, I guess it must be since then.
    – David Z
    Jun 14, 2015 at 21:21
  • 4
    I am also a US citizen, flying in & out multiple times each year and rarely get stamped. This has been the case for many years. I think it depends on where you enter exit and frequency of travel. For folks who travel frequently, they don't stamp and use up your pages. For folks who travel infrequently, they do stamp.
    – user13044
    Jun 15, 2015 at 3:44
  • 1
    Regarding your last comment on passports within Europe: It's actually a rule in the EU (e.g. in the Schengen Borders code but I believe it applies more broadly) that the travel documents of EU citizens (and a few other categories of people) should not be stamped, even if you ask (although in this case, only Belgium followed the rule scrupulously).
    – Relaxed
    Jun 17, 2015 at 17:59

If you used an Automatic Passport Control (APC) machine, you will not receive an "Admitted" stamp. It should have been stamped onto the print out instead.

Admitted stamps are sometimes presented in US Passports by US CBP: Wikipedia is ever helpful: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Us_stamp_2.png You can see that the "you must leave by" line has been left blank. However apparently it is not universal. You can ask if you want one. See this web link for some more reports: http://ask.metafilter.com/205231/To-stamp-or-not-to-stamp

I am told by colleagues that it is helpful to have a stamp for filling out tax returns if you are domiciled outside the USA and wish to prove how much time you spend outside the US.

  • 1
    That's a good point about tax returns. Jun 15, 2015 at 4:33
  • 1
    I believe that time spent outside the US can be significant even if you are domiciled in the US, though that might only be true for state taxes. I just remember that it was always an issue for my father when he was traveling a lot for work.
    – phoog
    Jun 15, 2015 at 16:50

Stamping is not a must. These days technology is catching up fast, everything is recorded electronically. The moment you, airline or the passport control officer scan your passport, the job is done. Stamps are a mess, though it looks good it consumes space in passport for frequent travelers.

I have traveled to all countries in Europe (as non EU citizen, holding residence EU permit), some countries dont even care to stamp, they just scan my permit or passport and wave me. It happened many times, but sometimes i get stamped the good old way :))

The bottom line is you dont need to worry too much about stamping, that is the job of border control, i am sure they know how to play the rules safe. All you have to do is just enjoy the travels, and rest will be taken care of :))

  • 4
    There are rules about this. You should get a stamp if you have a regular permit, but not if you have a permit as “member of the family of an EU citizens”. Guards are sometimes sloppy about it but legally speaking it's not up to them. For people without a residence permits, stamps are actually quite important in the Schengen area – which does not have any shared database of entries and exits – and you do occasionally need to worry about them.
    – Relaxed
    Jun 19, 2015 at 20:10
  • Yes i asked the guards about the stamp, they tell me because i hold RP of a member state, there is no need for that. They scan my RP and check my passport and let me through :)
    – pbu
    Jun 20, 2015 at 7:38
  • 1
    I can easily believe that but they are wrong. It's only for specific types of residence permits that they are not supposed to put stamps.
    – Relaxed
    Jun 22, 2015 at 8:55
  • @Relaxed Actually there seem to be national rules regarding stamping people with ordinary residence Permits. I know that in Sweden and France (and Hungary if I recall correctly), they are supposed to do it, but not in Switzerland and Slovenia. I've consistently noticed it to be the case in said countries
    – Crazydre
    Sep 30, 2016 at 0:50
  • @Crazydre I guess it depends on what we mean by "rules" and “supposed to”. Maybe border guards have official instructions and consistently follow them but my reading of the Schengen Border Codes is that the actual rule is as I described above and that's not really up to each individual country, legally speaking.
    – Relaxed
    Oct 2, 2016 at 22:31

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