Firstly, I’ll admit that this post was inspired by one on Flyertalk.
Having a passport from the ol’ US isn’t such a bad thing, if you take a look at how many countries US citizens can visit without requiring a visa, or a visa in advance. Not that I’m necessarily interested in visiting most of those places – I might need to go to Chinatown to get a Thai passport instead – but hey, we’ve got Venezuela (somehow?) and Western Sahara on them!
In any event, collecting passport stamps used to be fun…for me, but never for immigration officials. However, now that the US government charges citizens to add pages – I wonder how many pages long that act was; never mind that the I-589 is free – I’m not as keen these days. Yes, I know that those of us in the states are spoiled by getting passports valid for 10-years and also for being able to add pages, but stop for a minute and think about how embarrassing visa page additions can be. It serves as an embarrassing allegory for the Department of State.
Generally, at this stage in my (now expired; that’s why the front page is hole-punched) passport’s life, border control agents would give up and stamp anywhere they could find space. This included the signature page and the back page.
Two anecdotes that I recall are a Lebanese immigration officer getting angry that my Lao visa was written in Hebrew, and a hostel owner in Dublin adding a Post-it® to my cover page which read “American Guy’s Passport.”
What is represented on these two pages – passport stamps from China and Hong Kong – is why my passport had to loosen its
belt binding. While I was living in Shenzhen, the Chinese city that borders Hong Kong, it was extremely easy to hop over the border. Did I have a reason to do so? Nah. For instance, need to use the restroom? Go to HK. Want to buy a more expensive bottle of water? There’s a 7-11 right after HK immigration. Want to yawn in two different places in five minutes? Hoooooong Kong.
I can’t forget the most important one— ran out of visa pages?:
These days, it’s not as much of an issue – neither Hong Kong nor Macao, among a few other places, offer stamps anymore.
No matter where you hail from, do you still like getting passport stamps? What is the process for getting/renewing passports in your country?