Passport stamps have been a souvenir for decades, but some countries are no longer inking them, and others are considering doing away with physical passports entirely.
Australia was the first country to remove the physical entry and exit stamp system in December 2012, replacing it with the SmartGate system, which automatically allows passengers to be processed through passport control using facial recognition technology and the passport’s electronic chip.
Other countries that have stopped using stamps include Israel, Argentina, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Macau. The European Union is also in the process of removing stamps.
Border security experts say the move away from stamps is about making travel safer, as they can be tampered with or counterfeited. However, they admit that other passport parts can also be easily manipulated.
Singapore has recently announced it is introducing “automated, passport-free immigration clearance,” and experts say physical ones will likely be entirely phased out around the world in the future.
However, there are still challenges to overcome before that happens. Infrastructure needs to be upgraded in many countries, and there is the issue of whether all countries will want to join the new digital system.
Travel bloggers say they will be sad to see passports phased out but admit they can be a hassle.
“Even though social media and blogs create long-lasting memories, we still consider passport stamps to be one of our favourite souvenirs; they are unique and tangible,” said Australian travel blogger Jarryd Salem.
“There’s something special about a passport that you can touch and flick through.”
Sydney-based travel blogger Michael Turtle said he counted 155 stamps in his old one which he recently renewed.
“I look at my old passports, and there are a lot of happy memories there. You know, the stamps often remind you of trips you’d forgotten about,” he said.
However, as a frequent traveller, Turtle said passports could also be a “hassle” because they did not take long to fill up with stamps.
“A move away from them would be ‘bittersweet,’” he said. “There are some very happy memories in here, but there’s also a bit of a logistical issue.”
So, for now, travellers should still pack their passports, but they may want to start thinking about how they will preserve their travel memories in a digital world.