Definitions

date stamp

Passport stamp

A passport stamp is a rubber stamp inked impression received in one's passport upon entering or exiting a foreign country. Passport stamps may also take the form of sticker stamps, such as those received when entering Japan. Depending on your nationality, you may not receive a stamp (unless you specifically request one), such as an EU citizen traveling to another EU country. Most countries issue exit stamps in addition to entry stamps. A few countries only issue entry stamps, including Canada and United States. Visas may also take the form of passport stamps.

Use

Immigration authorities usually place immigration stamps in passports at a port of entry or border crossing, as part of their immigration control or customs procedures. This endorsement can serve many different purposes. In the United Kingdom the immigration stamp in the passport includes the formal "leave to enter" granted to a person subject to control when they enter the country. Alternatively, the stamps activates and/or acknowledges the continuing leave conferred in the individual's entry clearance. Other authorities, such as the Schengen system, simply stamp a passport with a date stamp that does not indicate any duration and this stamp is taken to mean either that the person is deemed to have permission to remain for three months or an alternative period as shown on their visa. In Japan, the passport entry stamp also contains a QR Code that allows the immigration official to electronically collect information related to that entry.

Most countries have different stamps for arrivals and departures to make it easier for officers to quickly identify the movements of the person concerned. The colour of the ink or the style of stamp may also provide such information. In Hong Kong just prior to and after the 1997 transfer of sovereignty from the UK to the People's Republic of China, arrival and departure stamps were identical at all ports of entry, but only those applied at the airport were in black ink. The stamps applied at Hong Kong's sea and land border crossings were applied in purple and red ink respectively. Immigration stamps applied by Macau's immigration service under Portuguese administration had slightly different borders depending on whether the person arrived by land, sea, or air but were all applied in the same colour of ink.

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