If you’re anything like me, there is one thing that’s exciting about finally traveling with your passport. PASSPORT STAMPS! Oh, what a feeling to go to a foreign country after months and years of planning, to get an official stamp of validity, of accomplishment, of honor. I mean technically the stamp doesn’t mean any of those things. They are actually just security protocols, but in my mind and my heart they have so much more meaning.
And when you get home, you can brag to your friends about how many passport stamps you have. It shows them how well-traveled you are. And when you're all alone, those stamps help you reminisce about special times you’ve experienced and special people you’ve had the experiences with.
Well, I’m so sorry to tell you that passport stamps look like they may be coming to an end. In an effort to expedite the customs process and increase security, many countries are moving towards self-service kiosks and biometric scanning. At the end you have your picture snapped and you’re given a receipt. The receipt, replaces your stamp!
In my most recent trip to Jamaica, I experienced this. I went to a self-service kiosk, scanned my own passport, took a picture (after 5 + hours of travel), and got my receipt which was my ticket out of the customs process. No Stamp.
When I returned I asked around and it looks like many countries are moving in this direction. Just to name a few, don't expect to be stamped in Australia, London, Paris, Aruba, Canada, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Turks & Caicos, Mexico and on and on.
Bottom line, we are losing this experience.
If collecting stamps is important to you, there are a couple of things you can do.
Ask an agent for a commemorative stamp. There is no guarantee this will work, but it's worth a shot.
Collect something else. I have spoken to people who instead now collect, bracelets, seashells, and postcards instead of those precious stamps. I personally collect pandora charms, but I’m still upset to lose my stamp!
As sad as it may make us, there is just no getting around it.
Passport stamps will one day be a thing of the past.