South Korea reverted to actual passport stamps (stickers), ending printed entry receipts

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It was quite interesting when I got to South Korea this weekend because not only was I extremely lucky that all the rows were completely empty for once, but it also surprised me when the customs officer again affixed a physical entry card to my passport.

South Korea was one of the countries that previously stopped stamping passports and instead gave you a printed slip as your entry record, but this change that happened in 2018 only lasted three years.

Last time I visited Korea in April, I still got the printed receipt and that was the end of it, so I didn’t expect them to change their policy and start stamping (pasting) again passports.

Here is my post from 2018 when they first stopped stamping:

More passport stamps for arrivals and departures in South Korea (arrival slip only)

Reducing stamps makes life easier for frequent travelers because a large number of stamps means faster passport renewals, but it also takes away another novelty factor from travel.

I’m always a bit sad when another country eliminates passport stamps because a clearly printed arrival record leaves almost no memory when it comes to travel documents. I’m one of those weird people who keep their passports after they’ve been renewed and invalidated.

I actually managed to request a release buffer in April just to see if it was available:

Entry/exit passport stamps are still available, although some countries have officially abolished them

Travelers entering a checkpoint where stamps are no longer issued automatically might have the option of requesting one from customs, either for novelty or for specific reasons.

There are sometimes good reasons to have a stamp in the passport as visual proof of entering and leaving a country, and many places eliminating stamps do not make it easier to reconcile your trip in some cases.

Some countries like Thailand still use stamps (oh my god, Thailand LOVES stamps for everything. The more the merrier), while others like Japan have long used printed stickers. Personally, I don’t mind either as long as I get something. But there are also countries with notoriously large stamps, such as Malaysia or especially Brazil. If you are a frequent visitor there, you better get a bigger passport or renew it frequently.

If you are a part-time resident in a foreign country, there may also be a practicality in having proof of an actual stay abroad for more than 180 days for tax purposes. I encountered a situation where the tax authorities asked me to provide such proof, and a copy of the passport stamps was satisfactory.

Conclusion

When you enter some countries you will find that they no longer provide entry/exit stamps and we have reported some here on LoyaltyLobby over the years. While this primarily presented annoyance based on novelty factors such as simply missing the stamps in some cases, there are some very practical reasons why the stamps indeed make sense.

For my part, I’m quite happy that Korea has started putting up small entrance stickers again. Not that I’ve ever been asked when checking into a hotel, but having all of your check-in/out records at your fingertips without keeping an extra collection of receipts is so much more convenient.

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