Meeting the stamp-collector immigration officer
We have all seen images of those unusual or rare stamps in passports that will make our friends jealous. Although most of them are stamped by immigration officers on our exotic travels, and some of them are visa stamps that could be different, there are stamps from places like Machu Pichhu, Galapagos Islands or Antarctica that are very rare to find on a passport. A lot of people like to collect these stamps by just taking a picture of those, and in my opinion, an immigration officer has the privilege to see these in person in various passports of travelers around the world.
I met this one immigration officer who loved to collect these stamps in passports.
I was visiting Georgia on a brand new passport because my old passport had all its pages filled. Although it is not required to carry your old passport, I did it in case someone asked for it. And that’s what happened while I was departing Georgia.
After looking at the entrance stamp in my new passport, the immigration officer asked for my old passport which I gladly handed over. She went through each page and I could see a smile on her face.
Immigration officer (IO): “Your passport is full.”
Me: “Yes, hence the new passport.”
IO: “You’ve been to a lot of interesting countries,” stopping at visa stamp of Botswana. Then flipping over to some stamps from Mt. Fuji in Japan. “Where is this from?”
Me: “Mt. Fuji in Japan.”
[Mt. Fuji, Japan]
IO: “Beautiful. And this?” flipping over to more stamps from Mt. Fuji.
Me: “Same. Japan.”
[Mt. Fuji, Japan]
IO: “What about this?” pointing to stamps from DMZ between the Koreas.
Me: “The border between North and South Korea.”
[DMZ between North & South Korea]
This went on for a few more stamps from various countries. And after about 10 minutes, she reaches for her phone, turns it on and shows me,
IO: “I love to collect great stamps, see here are some I collected…” She shows me a few of them on her camera roll. “Can I take pictures of some of the stamps from your passport?”
While she starts to take pictures of Mt. Fuji stamps, I start to wonder if this is legal and how many is she going to click. Once she reaches the Botswana visa stamp, I caution her that I wasn’t comfortable taking the stamps of the whole visa since it has my name and passport number on it.
She apologizes for that and zooms in to take specific government stamps on visas.
[Visas of Botswana and Swaziland]
Another 20 minutes, clicking a lot more stamps and reaching the end of the passport, she seemed stoked and starts from the beginning, making sure she hasn’t missed any good ones!
[Geysir, Iceland and Machu Picchu]
At the end of about 45 minutes waiting at the counter, she handed my passport to me, thanked me and I was at the gate to catch my flight. I was more than happy to have obliged her to take those pictures for her collection.
Experiences like these make your travels exciting!