Would You Pay For Your Passport Stamps?
Is it illegal or is it good, clean fun? The stamping of passports for souvenir value seems as old a tradition as buying those horrific gift spoons, and this rampant passport defamation continues today, except now they're charging for it.
In our travels, we've run across the three biggest profiters from this racket: Liechtenstein, San Marino, and Berlin, although the latter is by far the worst of them.
In the picture above, the passport pages bear four fake stamps from the old Allied and Soviet sides of Berlin, stamps which could possibly invalidate the passport. There's even a discussion thread over at Lonely Planet regarding the legality of this tourist stamping, with particular attention to the prevalance of it around Berlin's Checkpoint Charlie. For 2€ each, you have your pick of the stamps, ranging from 4 different US sector versions to 2 Soviet designs, and even a few French thrown in for good measure.
While Berlin represents the grayest area of souvenir stamping, the practice is super popular in tiny countries which mainly make their living off of tourism anyways. In Liechtenstein, the "Visitor's Center" will hook you up with a colorful and well-inked stamp for 1.50€, and The Republic of San Marino offers the same deal for a pricey 2.50€ at their Tourism Office.
We'll be truthful here: we've fallen for the Liechtenstein and San Marino deals, but spurned the Berlin stamps because, well...because East Berlin no longer exists as a separate sector with a border to cross for a stamp. There is a real fear of invalidating your passport with these babies, not to mention looking like a doofus for flaunting invalid stamps. Check out our recent snapshot of one such Berlin stamping "booth" in action.
Did we make the right choice by passing up the Checkpoint Charlie stamps? Have you gotten souvenir passport stamps? Do you love them or have you lived to regret them? Let us know in the comments, lest we panic and run to the post office for a new passport application.
· Passport stamp at Checkpoint Charlie [Lonely Planet Thorntree]
· Passports Coverage [Jaunted]
[Passport photo: In Soul; Liechtenstein stamp: Gimmelwald.com; San Marino stamp: VirtualTourist]