Cool Passport Stamps

For travelers, a passport stamp is like a medal of honor: proof of places explored, adventures had, and lessons learned. We asked the globetrotting Traveler staff to share their passport stamps and tell us about the stories behind them.

Some told tales of their first trips abroad, college semesters overseas, and family vacations. “When I flip through the pages I’m instantly and palpably transported to various stages in my life: my childhood round-the-world trips with my parents, my footloose years on the Caribbean beat in my early career, and every trip with my children through their own growing stages. Each page tells a story, or three, depending on how many stamps are squeezed in,” says Executive Editor Norie Quintos.

It’s never too late to start your own stamp collection. If you are among the two-thirds of Americans without passports, you can apply for one without an appointment TOMORROW, Saturday, September 17, during the State Department’s Passport Day in the USA. Regional Passport Agencies will be accepting applications and hosting passport-themed events.

We want to hear from you: Tell us about your favorite passport stamp in the comments section below.

Photos by Krista Rossow, NGS

Comments

  1. Marsha
    September 16, 2011, 9:53 pm

    Several years ago our house was broken into, my expired passport was taken from our safe along with cash, car titles, ect.
    I mourned the loss of my passport the most.
    Visit my website at http://Ofmyheart.net to see places I have visited…even if I don’t have the passport stamps to prove it!!

  2. Cynthia
    United States
    September 17, 2011, 12:10 am

    My favorite stamp takes up an entire page in my passport and is in bright royal blue ink. There are two penguins on either side of a silhouette of Isla Hornos, Chile. I got it when sailing around (and landing on and climbing up) Cape Horn. The names of the places brought brought back a lot of high school social studies class memories – the Straits of Magellan, the Beagle Channel, Cape Horn itself. The trip was way better in real life! Of course! And now the trip’s memories are always there.

  3. Bill Passman
    Antigua, Guatemala
    September 17, 2011, 8:45 am

    My 2 favorites are Machu Picchu and Antarctica.

  4. Katherine
    September 17, 2011, 9:07 am

    My favorite stamp in my passport is actually a visa to Afghanistan. For my very first trip overseas, I didn’t go somewhere easy but it was the place I dreamed of visiting.

    When I walked out of the Afghan consulate with my passport, I realized one small mistake – they’d given me a tourist visa instead of the business visa I requested! I like to joke that I’m the only person on earth with a tourist visa to Afghanistan in their passport!

  5. Joseph Alotto
    Peru
    September 17, 2011, 9:26 am

    My best stamp is the visa I got on the border of Oman and Yemen while traveling overland. It’s the best looking one, bright green with Yemen’s seal in gold in the corner. I was traveling overland through the gulf and surprised the border guards at the Yemeni border and I had to read out my name and info out loud so they could spell it in Arabic since no one spoke English. On the same bus I had my first experience with Khat with some Yemeni college students. Fun trip.

  6. Tom
    Switzerland
    September 17, 2011, 9:50 am

    Really cool stamps…
    Visit http://www.passport-collector.com to see also cool passports…

    Best regards
    Tom

  7. Nory
    Amsterdam
    September 17, 2011, 10:05 am

    I’ve travelled for 6 weeks through China & Tibet. As always during my travels i forgot what day it was. The hotel in Guilin ,where i stayed, informed me i overstayed my visa. Me: really?? for how many days? Receptionist: ehm..14 days..Me: oops.. While checking the Lonely Planet i found out i had to pay 50 euro’s per day overstayed. 14 x 50 euro = 700 euro!! oops..Thank god i used to work for a travelcompany in Amsterdam who offers trips to China. I used my Chinese contact person and went to the police station. They talked for a while and within 1 hour i got a new visa and just payed 30 euro for it. Policeman : you are a very very lucky young lady…
    Corruption in China can be ok sometimes ;) When i show this Chinese visa to frien i start the story with: this visa actually cost me 700 euro, but i got it for just 30…Wanna hear the story?

    if possible i try to cross borders (overland) on my birthday while travelling. So the stamps which have my birthday date on it are cool as well :) Made those birthdays a bit more special..

  8. Fanis Papavasileiou
    Pakistan
    September 17, 2011, 2:12 pm

    My favorite stamp is from Pakistan and it’s says Islamic republic of Pakistan. I was traveling to chitral and Hindu Kush mountains visiting Kalas tribeat Bumboret valley.

  9. Anisha
    Galapagos
    September 17, 2011, 2:59 pm

    Pretty turtle and whale

  10. Marcela
    September 17, 2011, 3:04 pm

    My favorite is Jordan — they integrate a stamp (like the ones they put on envelopes) into the passport stamp.

    I really want to get Manitoba’s stamp (with the polar bear)! I have that on my bucketlist at http://www.wanderable.com.

  11. Kristen
    France
    September 17, 2011, 3:12 pm

    I have a stamp in one of my old passports from Czechoslovakia. How many people can say that these days?

  12. Anniebelle
    Canada
    September 17, 2011, 3:21 pm

    My favourite stamps are relatively common ones, I’m sure… London, Paris, and Rome. A collection from, and of, my first trip to Europe. They are all highly tourist-driven countries with stamps that are pounded at borders, air and seaports a countless number of times a day. They’re not as exotic or rare (for lack of a better term) as some of those mentioned in other comments, but to me they are a trifecta – if you will – of not just any summer trip. On that trip, I entered the next stage of my life. Like travel, in general, it’s what the stamps represent. It’s the experiences – good and bad, but all significant – that followed the stamping of those stamps.

  13. EUN GYOU KIM
    TEXAS . US
    September 17, 2011, 5:06 pm

    When I traveled Europe I used trains a lot with Eu-rail pass and when I crossed border lines in the train, they gave me a train shape stamps. It’s cute and I like it.

  14. Kimo
    Kingdom of Hawaii
    September 17, 2011, 5:37 pm

    And when you die… what happens to your passport and record of your life.. put in the funeral pyre with your things to be purified because only you can have your memories.

  15. Oliver
    uk
    September 17, 2011, 6:28 pm

    my favourite passport stamp is from one foot island on aitutaki in the cook islands. It’ s in the shape of a foot and I have fond memories of the visit as 1) I was on my honeymoon 2) it was my first vist to the pacific or the southern hemisphere and 3) I don’t know that I will ever travel that far from home in my life again…..other than that it was obtained on one of the most memorable days, sailing on one of the most beautiful lagoons in the world!

  16. Brandon
    San Francisco
    September 17, 2011, 7:04 pm

    My stamp/visa to Laos is as beautiful and amazing as the country is itself.

  17. Anniebelle
    Canada
    September 17, 2011, 8:59 pm

    My favourite stamps are relatively common ones, I’m sure… London, Paris, and Rome. A collection from, and of, my first trip to Europe. They are all highly tourist-driven countries with stamps that are pounded at borders, air and seaports a countless number of times a day. They’re not as exotic or rare (for lack of a better term) as some of those mentioned in other comments, but to me they are a trifecta – if you will – of not just any summer trip. On that trip, I entered the next stage of my life. Like travel, in general, it’s what the stamps represent. It’s the experiences – good and bad, but all significant – that followed the stamping of those stamps that make them so important to me.

  18. Mani
    New Delhi
    September 17, 2011, 11:55 pm

    Some 10 years ago, I had the opportunity to go to North Cypruss which is occupied by Turkey. The staff at the local consulate in Istanbul jokingly said that now I should forget about getting a Greek Visa on my passport. In past 10 years my three passports have been filled with Visa stamps but I m yet to see a Greek one!!

  19. Mikala
    WV, USA
    September 18, 2011, 10:04 am

    It’s not the prettiest, but it is unusual. I was in Australia for business traveling to Singapore. Just as i was boarding my flight my boss asked me to stay in Austalia. So I had to go backwards through immigration and customs and got a DID NOT DEPART stamp in my passport! Now I get questioned about it everywhere I visit.

  20. alex
    Khartoum, Sudan
    September 18, 2011, 10:27 am

    I’ve been lucky enough to go to a range of dodgy places, and in 1994 received a UN stamp from Sarajevo airport. Very few people got it because the Bosnians soon found out at went crazy about sovereignty. The best stamp I ever saw, sadly not in my passport, was a “tourist entry” from a small Norwegian port – called Hell…

  21. Alex
    Khartoum, Sudan
    September 18, 2011, 10:28 am

    Sadly it was not in my passport, but the best entry stamp I ever saw was from a small Norwegian port – called Hell…

  22. Todd
    United States
    September 18, 2011, 10:33 am

    My favorite stamp is Monoco by far. If you get to Monte Carlo one day, you can acquire it at their tourist information center not 2-3 blocks away from the Grand Casino.

  23. Arnaldo Montaner
    Caracas, Venezuela
    September 18, 2011, 10:45 am

    The stamp in ny passport that I like the most is the cortesy one that you get in Machu Picchu

  24. JTMurdock
    Iraq
    September 19, 2011, 4:26 am

    I think my favorite stamp is from Schiphol airport when I was heading home from the middle east for a vacation. Got to spend about 8 hours walking about Amsterdam, taking pictures and taking in the sights.

  25. Clark Vandeventer
    http://FamilyTrek.org
    September 19, 2011, 11:15 am

    Passport stamps are like a badge of honor! But here’s my dilemma: my passport is expired. How important are those stamps to me? It’s so easy to renew your passport just by mailing in your old one. But that means I lose my old passport. Is it worth going though the whole arduous process to save my stamps?!?!? Oh the anguishes of a traveler!

  26. David
    www.thetattooedtraveler.com
    September 19, 2011, 12:29 pm

    My Vietnam visa… it takes up a whole page, beautiful colors, & it cost $50, so I better like it!
    Plus, most importantly, it reminds of one of the most amazing places I have ever been!

  27. Mohamed
    Somalia
    September 19, 2011, 4:57 pm

    I want to america

  28. gmzucco
    September 20, 2011, 1:48 am

    This is extremely well done. I applaud National Geographic and Intelligent Traveler on continually keeping their readers in mind. This piece could have easily just have been a reflection on the State Departments advertising attempts for Passport Day in the USA, but instead both entities chose to let images and descriptions of personal journeys spark the interest of other travelers and travel enthusiast.

    So on that note, my favorite stamp in my passport book is from Barcelona, Spain. It was my first trip abroad and this trip solely contributed to a lifelong love for all things Antoni Gaudi.
    http://gmzucco.wordpress.com

  29. Alex
    United States
    September 20, 2011, 2:03 am

    I love them all, but my favorite is the stamp from Georgia. The Georgian script is hard to beat when it comes to those little stamps. I must admit though, I do love my full-page visas and my stamps from Kosovo.

  30. amin
    CA USA
    September 20, 2011, 5:51 pm

    My favorite stamp in my passport is actually a visa TO libanon and my bage home iraq

  31. inggita
    Jakarta
    September 21, 2011, 4:56 pm

    One of my China trips got me a stamp dated 08-08-08 a lucky one for Chinese. Yup, I’m leaving the country just when they were having the party of the year, the opening of the Olympics, summer 2008.

  32. K.C. Ng
    Singapore
    September 26, 2011, 7:56 am

    Mine was from Myanmar in 2008 on a solo motorcycle trip from Singapore through Malaysia and Thailand

  33. Mark
    Czech
    September 26, 2011, 12:54 pm

    Some 10 years ago, I had the opportunity to go to North Cypruss which is occupied by Turkey. The staff at the local consulate in Istanbul jokingly said that now I should forget about getting a Greek Visa on my passport. In past 10 years my three passports have been filled with Visa stamps but I m yet to see a Greek one!!stavky

  34. Taylor A
    Provo, UT, USA
    October 4, 2011, 7:22 pm

    Favorite stamps:
    1. Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia
    2. Palau

    I love these two because they are so unique and even more remote.

  35. Matt
    Des Moines, Iowa, USA
    December 15, 2011, 3:39 pm

    My favorite stamp would have to be from Egypt. The visa consists of two small stamps resembling postage stamps that I had to lick and stick in my passport. Second would be a tie between my Burmese, Tanzanian visas.

  36. Samantha Hall
    grand canyon, az
    December 16, 2011, 9:26 am

    My favorite passport stamps are all the ones I collected while traveling around Africa during my Peace Corps years…especially the ones from Togo and Ghana.

  37. Jason Lange
    United States of America
    December 25, 2011, 12:37 pm

    My favorite passport stamp is from Port Lockroy, Antarctica! With that I had stamps from countries on all seven continents in one passport.

    I’m also quite proud of my stamp from Kodari, Nepal, which I received after a trek on Mt. Everest. What a forgotten little corner of the world that is.

  38. Whitney
    Salt Lake City, UT
    December 25, 2011, 1:31 pm

    I have quite a few stamps and my favorite is probably from Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, Wales. That’s the town with the longest name in the world! I am going to be sad when I have to get a new passport when mine expires next year!

  39. Monty
    North pole, north Korea,berma,Easter island,republic of moldova
    May 9, 2012, 5:46 pm

    North Korea will not stamp your passport if you are an American however they give you a paper to put into you passport then you can take a picture of it. When you leave they take the paper out.

  40. Nick Ali
    September 10, 2012, 3:56 am

    I made a video about my passport stamps.

  41. The Anatomy of a Stamp Design
    September 24, 2012, 6:07 am

    [...] are also fascinated by interesting passport stamps, which can also come in different colours and forms. Wish I had more of [...]

  42. Jonathan
    http://buildingmybento.wordpress.com/
    January 11, 2013, 6:30 pm

    In my old passport, officials were fed up with looking for a blank spot, so they started using all of the pages – “new pages addition” page, amendments, the back flap – your kindergarten teacher told you never to think about.

    One of my favorites is getting two Tokyo Narita stamps within five minutes. Apparently I was supposed to tell them I finished studying abroad (and capitulate the foreigner ID card), so they voided the first chop, sent me right back through, then back again.

    Also, living in Indonesia took up about eight pages…and that was just for a few months!

  43. Soozy Brockmann
    U.S.A.
    March 5, 2013, 8:35 pm

    My favorite stamp is from the Seychelles.it was the shape of the coco de mayo nut, which looks like someones Rearend! Unfortantly an Arab Shiek found it offensive so now its just a plain stamp:(. F.Y.i always find out if a country offers tourist stamps. Some countries no longer stamp passports but do have a tourist stamp at some offices..

  44. Boyd
    Czech republic
    June 2, 2013, 2:51 am

    My favorite stamp is from the Cabo Verde.