Two of my most treasured possessions are my first and second passports. They are jammed from cover-to-cover with passport stamps from around the world, telling many stories about my life and the direction it has taken. But will these relics of past generations soon become distant relics? If my last trip to the United Kingdom was any indication, I fear passport stamps will become more difficult to obtain in the years ahead.
Will Passport Stamps Continue In Our New World?
I strive for an ordered life in all areas. Organization does not come naturally to me, but with my wife’s help I have worked toward being a much more orderly and organized person over the last few years. That includes proper accounting of our finances, clean closets and dressers, and organized files on my computer.
But there’s one area where disorder reigns – my passport. The beauty of a passport is the different colors and shapes of passport stamps, often overlapping one another. While my passports are always filled with European Union stamps, they too tell a story: Barcelona, Berlin, Copenhagen, Milan, Paris, Berlin, and Reykjavik provide not just a diversity of stamps (though they all look similar) but vivid memories of business and leisure trips I will forever cherish.
Interspersed among those stamps, however, is a collection of visas and more exotic stamps that also bring back happy thoughts of my adventures through the world:
Which leads us to my concern.
During a trip to the United Kingdom earlier this year, I asked a border agent to stamp my passport. Historically, the UK has stamped passports but even prior to pandemic began phasing out automatic stamping, though it was still available upon request. The agent said:
“I’m sorry. We are no longer allowed to stamp passports due to COVID-19.”
My heart skipped a beat. Not so much because I needed another UK stamp in my passport, but because I imagined a world in which concerns over virus transmission meant passports are no longer stamped.
Passports themselves are rather quaint…talk about a vestige of the past. Yet I just cannot see digital passports and visas replacing physical passports in my lifetime: not every nation is technically savvy and the physical document is not depended upon internet connection or a charged battery. Plus, physical passports are theoretically more difficult to forge than electronic documents.
Hopefully stamping will not be a casualty of the pandemic.
Dear readers, this is a minor issue among minor issue. My heart aches for the death this pandemic has brought on, which is far more important than the sustainment of passport stamps. Yet I do hope that more countries will not take the British approach. The passport stamps are a unique beauty that provide happy (and sometimes not so happy) memories for a lifetime.
Would you be devastated if other nations stopped stamping passports?