How to Get Your Passport Stamped

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Some countries place different stamps for entry and departure.
Some countries place different stamps for entry and departure. (Image: Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

Passport stamps are rubber stamps or stickers that indicate entry or exit into or out of a country. Additionally, some countries stamp the visa required for travel to their country into a passport. When passport stamps serve as an indicator of entry or exit, immigration officials stamp the holder’s passport at a border crossing or point of entry. When it functions as a visa, prior authorization in the form of an application is usually required.

Visit the consulate or embassy website of the country you intend to visit. Here you will find information concerning whether a visa is required for your trip. Whether a visa is necessary will be contingent upon your country of citizenship, the policies of the foreign government and your reason for traveling.

Download the visa application, if needed. Some consulates will allow applications to be mailed in, others require a visit by the applicant or a designated representative. Find out which beforehand, as your nearest consulate may be several states away.

Submit your visa application along with the appropriate fees, your travel itinerary, passport, two passport-sized photos and any additional material they may require. Supporting materials may include a letter of sponsorship from a citizen or business in the country you intend to travel to, a bank statement displaying sufficient funds for the duration of your stay, an acceptance letter from a college or university or an offer of employment from an employer within the country.

Watch for any return correspondence from the embassy. Allow at least 4 to 6 weeks for the return of your passport and an update concerning the status of your request. If approved, your detailed visa may be affixed to your passport. Some visas will have validation dates printed on them, indicating the dates in which you are eligible to enter and leave the country. Now is the time to ensure that all your information is correct.

Travel to your destination during the period specified within your visa. At the airport, seaport or border crossing, immigration officials will stamp your passport when you enter and when you exit.

Tips & Warnings

  • If it is not feasible to visit a consulate or embassy, consider the services of an online third-party processing site. While a few consulates allow for online applications, online visa applications for most countries would have to be processed this way.
  • Border officials in many cases will not stamp the passports of some EU citizens who travel from one EU nation to another.

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