All around the world in 2023, wait times to get and renew passports are longer than ever. The rush to return to international travel after the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic has put the squeeze on every sector of the travel industry – even government offices.
But passport wait times don’t only affect those with expired passports. Even those with valid passports can run low on space if they travel frequently.
When entering a new country, the customs agent will stamp your passport wherever there’s space. And since the average agent is stamping hundreds of passports each day, they’ll put the stamp in the first blank spot they see. For frequent travelers, the result can be a passport that quickly runs out of space; especially if they travel to countries that require visas.
How Much Blank Space Does Your Passport Need?
This largely depends on the country you’re entering, and your requirements to enter it. Most countries require anywhere from two to six blank passport pages. The US Department of State recommends at least two to four blank passport pages, and you’ll need at least one blank page to enter any country if you require a visa. However, this can all vary depending on the country.
Obviously, the more you travel, the more stamps you’ll get in your passport. And if you travel a lot, your passport pages will soon get filled. After all, the customs agent isn’t going to take the time to neatly place their stamp somewhere to maximize space.
This can present a problem when you need to travel, your passport is valid, but you find yourself running low on stamping space. With an imminent trip or two coming up and passport renewal times taking months or longer, you want to prolong your passport as much as possible. Luckily, there’s a novel solution.
Cover Blank Passport Pages With a Post-It Note
We’re all familiar with these handy little notes. We may use them at work or at home to post reminders. However, they can also help extend the life of your passport.
Before you travel, take a post-it note or two and place it on blank pages of your passport that you’d like the customs agent to avoid stamping. Put a friendly note on it that says something to the effect of “saving page, please stamp elsewhere.” A kind customs agent will likely see the bright color of the note and place the stamp elsewhere.
Is Saving a Passport Page Legal?
Since the note is just temporarily affixed to the page and you aren’t damaging or altering the passport in any way, there should be no issues. Just make sure that all the pages of the passport are undamaged, as some countries may consider even a slightly damaged passport to be invalid.
Does This Method Actually Work?
That completely depends on the customs agent. The post-it note is simply a request not to stamp the page, and the agent can choose whether or not to agree to that request. Most will have no issue stamping elsewhere so long as you have sufficient space. However, the agent may choose to stamp on the blank page anyway. If they do, simply smile and thank them. They are only doing their job. The last thing you want to do is argue with immigration officials in a foreign country.
However, more often than not, using a post-it note to save passport pages should work, and it can extend the life of your passport by years. Just be sure to renew it in plenty of time when you really do start to run low on space.
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