Stamp Happy at the Border

January 26, 2009

When I had my first passport as a teenager studying abroad, I had to beg and plead border agents to put a stamp on my passport–as a ink-and-paper souvenir of my travels across the Continent.

In today’s post-9/11 environment, no such pleading is necessary. They’re going stamp-happy at the border. It got so bad that last year, I had to send my passport in to have them sew extra pages into it!

To understand what I am saying, consider my last trip. On my way from Los Angeles to London, I received FIVE stamps in my passport in just four days.

With a six-hour layover in Frankfurt, I decided to go into the City to kill some time, so they stamped my passport.

Upon returning, they asked when I had arrived in Frankfurt (that morning) and on what page they had stamped my passport (the Alaska page with Denali on it, which did not help the German border agent). She found the proper page and stamped away.

Upon arriving at London City Airport, I got another stamp-the traditional 6-month right to enter visa from the UK.

On the return, there was no way to transfer from the B gates to the A gates without passing through German Customs, so I went through the same routine in Frankfurt.

Luckily, my passport only has about three years left before it expires, and I have some twenty-one empty pages. At this rate, I probably will be applying for a new one before the space runs out again…