World’s 10 Coolest Passport Stamps
Commemorate your travels by collecting the world’s souvenir passport stamps.
A new stamp in your passport is a mark of pride. It tells the world you have traveled to exciting places. When you arrive at a distant destination, the promise of a new stamp makes the long wait and fluorescent lights of customs bearable. Some travelers collect passport stamps, showing them off to others like badges of honor on a cultural-awareness sash. Others use their passport stamps to keep a record of the places they’ve visited over the years, checking off dream destinations from their bucket list.
It is important to note that the U.S. State Department’s rules on passport markings for travelers from the United States state that only authorized officials can stamp or make notations in a person’s passport; other markings, such as souvenir stamps, render the passport invalid. While the majority of U.S. travelers avoid trouble from these unauthorized stamps, some foreign governments do deny visitors for unauthorized markings on their passport. Also, the U.S. government no longer issues extra pages for passports, so it is best to avoid unnecessary stamps. To prevent undue stress, use a different booklet to start a collection dedicated to obtaining these unique stamps. The following destinations take you beyond the traditional boundaries of borders with bold imprints as inspiring and fun as the geographical landmarks, inaccessible locations, and historical monuments they represent.
Stamp your collector’s book at Checkpoint Charlie as you imagine what the active border was like years ago.
1. Checkpoint Charlie, Berlin Germany
East and West Germany officially erected the iconic border between the two regions in 1961 amidst the larger Berlin Wall, which was meant to keep citizens of East Germany from fleeing to the democratic west. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the preservation of Checkpoint Charlie serves as a symbol of the Cold War and Europe divided by political idealism. The border acted as the best-known checkpoint between East and West Germany during the 28 years of the Berlin Wall’s existence before the reunification of Germany in 1990.
The Wall Museum at Checkpoint Charlie hosts exhibitions that represent both sides of the divided city during the Cold War, including some of the most daring escapes citizens of the east made to the west. Add a stamp to your collection at the museum, where you will find a wide selection between one and three euros.
Visit the Galápagos to get a stamp that commemorates the island where Darwin developed his theory of evolution.
2. The Galápagos, Ecuador
The volcanic archipelago off the west coast of Ecuador is widely known for its abundance of wildlife and fascinating flora. The biodiversity contains more than 1,300 species of plants and animals found nowhere else in the world. While a boat can reach the islands, air travel remains the most convenient mode of transportation, as they sit 600 miles from Ecuador’s mainland. The Galápagos does not have an official passport stamp since the islands are considered lands of Ecuador. If you do wish to receive a stamp, representatives in the tourist information office in Puerto Ayora, the main town on the southern shore of Santa Cruz Island, are happy to issue stamps to interested travelers.
Visitors of Akhzivland, a pacifist micro-nation within Israel, can collect their passport stamps at the national museum (pictured above). Credit: Wikimedia
3. Akhzivland, Israel
The unique micro-nation on Israel’s northern Mediterranean coast is famously the only “country” in the Middle East that has never been involved in military conflict. Akhzivland was founded by Eli Avivi who developed the ruined village of Akhziv with huts and founded the micro-nation on his ideals of pacifism. Akhzivland has been in limbo since its official recognition by the Israeli Supreme Court. The nearly 107,600-square-foot nation leases its land from the Israeli government in a decree the Supreme Court made at the end of the trial, providing a 99-year timeline for the nation. Visitors to Akhzivland can receive passport stamps at their small national museum.
Check Machu Picchu off your bucket list and stamp your collector’s book at the entrance.
4. Machu Picchu, Peru
Machu Picchu is a destination on many bucket lists, and if it isn’t on yours, it should be as it is also one of the New Seven Wonder of the World. The 15th-century ruins reflect the ingenuity of the Inca as they built the City in the Clouds under the reign of Emperor Pachacútec. Participants on the Inca Trail, multi-day trek to Machu Picchu receive the fabled passport stamp at the entrance, which leads to the Sun Gate. Those who prefer to avoid the strain of the trek can obtain their stamp from the main entrance office located near the shuttle stop.
When you visit the “Middle of the World City” do not forget their souvenir passport stamp.
5. Ciudad Mitad del Mundo, Ecuador
Visit the “Middle of the World City” in beautiful Ecuador. Ciudad Mitad del Mundo is located outside of the capital city of Quito where the equator passes through the country. A discrepancy exists whether the true equator lies at the marked line and pyramidal monument or 800 feet away at the Ethnographic Museum Monument. Either location will stamp your passport with an official Middle of the World City seal.
Easter Island, Chile offers visitors a stamp depicting three ancient Moai heads.
6. Easter Island, Chile
The remote location known for the stunning Moai statues is a part of Chile, yet stands more than 2,100 miles away from the closest continental point at central Chile. The passport stamp commemorates the most notable feature of the island with three of the distinct heads and the words “Isla de Pascua.” The local post office in Rapa Nui offers the stamp to travelers who ask. While the stamp is free, the issuer would happily accept a small tip.
Celebrate your visit to the city with the longest name in Europe by getting your passport stamped at the train station.
7. Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, Wales
The village in Wales is known for its name consisting of 58 characters, boasting the longest name in Europe. If you are curious as to how the name is properly pronounced, see this weather man ace it here. Apart from hosting the world’s second longest name, visitors to the town enjoy attractions like the Marquess of Anglesey’s Column, Britannia Bridge, and the Railway Station, the latter of which offers train tickets to showcase the length and size of the town’s full name. Stands beside the station provide visitors with the town’s passport stamp. This stamp highlights the length of the name as it wraps around the Welsh dragon, the iconic symbol of the nation, in a calligraphic border.
Prove you reached the end of the world with a stamp from El Fin del Mundo, Ushuaia, Argentina.
8. El Fin del Mundo, Ushuaia, Argentina
The end of the world begins in the southernmost city on the South American continent, Ushuaia, Argentina. The glistening waters of the Beagle Channel, end of the Martial Mountains and windswept coastline reflect the city’s dramatic beauty. Ushuaia acts as the starting point for travelers to Antarctica as well as a stop for adventure enthusiasts prepared to hike, sail, ski, or even scuba dive in the frigid waters connecting to the Southern Ocean. To prove you have traveled to the end of the world, visit the tourist information center in town, where you can choose from two different stamps.
The South Pole has a variety of interesting stamps; the most famous being the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. Credit: Bill Spindler U.S. Antarctic Program National Science Foundation
9. South Pole
While technically a part of Antarctica, those who make it all the way to the South Pole deserve commemoration with a stamp. Flags from the original 12 signatories of the Antarctic Treaty decorate the landscape surrounding the barber pole topped with a chromium globe. While not a country, ambitious adventurers can prove their visit to the South Pole with a souvenir stamp. The post office inside the station offers visitors the commemorative ink. The most common stamp for the area shows the continent with a star detailing the location of Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. Additional fun stamps can be obtained with images of penguins or “the pole."
There is no official passport stamp for Antarctica, so collect the various stamps from each of the scientific research stations across the continent.
Antarctica does not have a central form of government and is not considered a country. Instead, more than 50 nations host research stations on various islands in addition to locations on the continental ice shelf and landmass. With no centralized government, the continent does not have an official passport stamp. However, visitors to the remote shores of the various islands, channels, and shorelines of Antarctica can obtain a number of passport stamps from the different scientific stations across the continent. Each station acts as a consulate to the various nations who conduct research at the southern reaches of the globe.
If you are looking to explore the seventh continent, click here for more details.