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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I have a question for those of you who carry multiple passports when traveling. Obviously you use the right passport for whichever country you enter, no brainer, but my question is in regards to entry/exit stamps.

Some border/immigration officials actually care/pay attention and want to see an exit stamp for where you are coming from before stamping you in.

Here is my hypothetical....

I use my U.S. passport to exit the U.S. (exit stamp, check), I'm flying to Saint Martin let's say. I'll go ahead and use my U.S. passport to enter Saint Martin (entry stamp, check). Then I catch a ferry to Anguilla, I'll use my Anguilla passport to enter. Frankly, their customs don't care about stamps, I was born there so they welcome me in with open arms (entry stamp on Anguilla passport).

Here's where it may get sticky....

I get a job in St. Kitts & Nevis. I exit Anguilla using my Anguilla passport (exit stamp), gotta catch the same ferry back to Saint Martin. I want to use my U.S. passport for entry, now I know these guys are going to be scratching their heads why I have an exit stamp from there on my U.S. passport but no stamp for where the hell I was at lol. Let's say I get lucky and they shrug it off and stamp me in (entry stamp).

I then go onto St Kitts & Nevis, for this I will use my St Kitts & Nevis passport of course so I have no restrictions on working there. Now, having dealt with these guys in the past, it's 50/50 I get lucky and they either don't care that I have no exit stamp from where I came on my St Kitts & Nevis passport, or I get the guy who throws a fit and causes me all kinds of hassle.

I also have a British passport so I could even add another variable to the equation. But the gist of my question is.... how would you go about being sure that you got proper entry/exit stamps AND use the right passport for whichever country you are traveling? Chances are it could cause me allot of pain not doing so. For example I will be going to visit my brother in England on the British passport and also coming back to see my kids here in the U.S. using that passport. What if they care about seeing proper entry/exit stamps?

Thoughts? Thanks!
 

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how would you go about being sure that you got proper entry/exit stamps AND use the right passport for whichever country you are traveling? ...What if they care about seeing proper entry/exit stamps?
I think you're operating under a couple implicit misassumptions, so let's draw those out.

Country A's passport control officers are not in the business of enforcing Country B's immigration laws. They're in the business of enforcing Country A's laws. If you are a foreigner (not visiting one of your countries of citizenship), they're mostly concerned with whether you are likely to overstay. Their view of your risk of overstaying is related to a couple important facts:

(a) Whether you have overstayed elsewhere (in Country B, for example);
(b) Whether you are a liar.

That's why they sometimes check entry/exit stamps. It's not because they care about Country B's immigration laws per se. Nor is it because they don't know where you came from. They know what plane you arrived on -- or, in the unlikely event they don't, a boarding pass settles that issue. But the entry/exit stamps are simply "something to talk about" -- and something you could lie about.

So the number one rule is DON'T LIE. If you're asked why Country B didn't stamp your passport, answer truthfully. If "Country B didn't stamp my British passport" is a truthful answer, that's fine. If the passport control officer wants to see your other passport, that's fine. Note that you don't have to volunteer the fact you carry more than one passport, but don't lie.

[This gets a bit tricky if you're dealing with one of your countries of citizenship and that particular country is hostile to your possession of more than one citizenship. In that case sometimes individuals will travel to a third country, get a stamp in the "right" passport, then continue on to their home country. You might also need to refuse to answer one or more questions, if legally permitted. But this subject requires a lot more explanation since it's a bit complicated. It's not your situation, though.]

I think you're also assuming that the stamps in your passport "matter." No, not actually. Practically all countries nowadays maintain computerized databases, recording entries and exits -- and often they share those databases. The databases are authoritative, generally, and the passport control officer is staring at the database records on his/her screen. If the database says you exited the Bahamas (for example), but you have no Bahamian stamp in your passport, now the passport control officer has something to talk about. But it isn't anything more than that -- he/she knows full well the database is most likely correct. Officers forget (or don't bother) to stamp passports all the time. What's far more interesting is whether you'll then lie about your travel. Liars are very interesting to passport control officers. If you're prone to lying, what else might you be lying about? Then your luggage and your pockets, as examples, are more interesting.

So, don't overstay, and don't lie. Enjoy your trips.

[One further, parenthetical point. It is in your interest to make sure that your exit from a particular country is recorded so that you are not assumed to be an overstayer when you next visit the country. In particular, if there's a departure card you need to provide when you exit a country, make sure that departure card is collected as you exit. If you arrive at the next country with the departure card from the previous country still stuck inside your passport, contact that country's embassy or consulate for instructions on how to get that errant departure card to them. Otherwise, don't worry.]
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Haha, great! Thanks for the answer, I guess I was just way over thinking it and worrying then for no reason. I have nothing to ever lie about or hide since I'm not on the run or anything and I think all of the countries I have passports for don't care about multiple citizenship.

Thanks!

Alex
 

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...I think all of the countries I have passports for don't care about multiple citizenship.
That's probably correct based on the countries you named.

Some countries (like the U.S.) allow their citizens to carry two passports from the same country in certain circumstances, so even individuals with single citizenships can sometimes carry multiple passports. Diplomatic versus ordinary passports is another example, with the same individual using a different passport from the same country depending on the nature of the travel. Lost/renewed passports happen, too. So, even excluding those with multiple citizenships, there are all kinds of reasonable circumstances when entry and exit stamps might be "missing," even if passport control officers were 100% reliable in stamping passports (they aren't). Also, many countries don't even bother to stamp passports any more, and others routinely stamp entry/exit cards rather than passports. The absence of a stamp is only mildly interesting, and it's only a conversation starter (if that). Conversations at passport control are perfectly routine.

I recall one occasion when a passport control officer asked me about a stamp. He first asked me what countries I had visited, and (to the best of my recollection, truthfully) I told him. He was flipping through my passport. Then he asked, "You didn't mention Algeria. You traveled to Algeria, didn't you?" I was genuinely puzzled for about three seconds, then I realized what happened. "No, I've never visited Algeria. But I did visit Algeciras, a city in Spain. You must be looking at my Spanish entry stamp." He shook his head (perhaps sheepishly), stamped my passport, and waved me through.

Tell the truth, that's all.
 

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I'm just curious as to how and when you got an "exit stamp" on leaving the US. That's one of the great anomalies about US immigration procedures - entry is a real hassle, but when you're leaving, there is no formal process (other than the airline check in desk checking to make sure they won't have to fly you back on their dime).

Like BBC, the only time I've had any comment about prior stamps (and it was at the airline check-in desk, too, not at immigration control - in Paris) was when I had a stamp in Arabic from a trip to Morocco. (And this was BEFORE 2001, not after.)
Cheers,
Bev
 

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I'm just curious as to how and when you got an "exit stamp" on leaving the US.
I don't see where the original poster implied that he did or would. He did offer that Anguilla would not be stamping his U.S. passport on exit from Anguilla because he also carries a passport that Anguilla issued.
 

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From the OP's original post:
Here is my hypothetical....

I use my U.S. passport to exit the U.S. (exit stamp, check),
Just asked, because I don't think I've ever gotten an exit stamp on exit from the US. Though I admit I always come and go by plane these days. But there is no exit stamp at any airport I've traveled through in the last 20 years. Just wondering if I was missing something.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
From the OP's original post:


Just asked, because I don't think I've ever gotten an exit stamp on exit from the US. Though I admit I always come and go by plane these days. But there is no exit stamp at any airport I've traveled through in the last 20 years. Just wondering if I was missing something.
Cheers,
Bev
I can't recall if I have ever got them when flying out, don't think so, you're right, but the times I've left by private barge/boat, yes.

Last time I moved down there with some pallets of belongings, I left by private barge for TCI via Bahamas from Florida. Now this was interesting because US customs checked the pallets and we re-shrink wrapped them. However TCI when I came in did not check the pallets at all lol. This was in Provo btw, not Grand Turk.

Anyway, yeah, each experience I've had has been different with only a few similarities. I haven't traveled out of the U.S. since 9/11 but I will be allot starting in about 2 months, hence by inquisitive post. I didn't want to get caught off guard with how much thing may have changed.

Alex
 

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Minor comment here from an occasional carrier of two passports. Assuming you're not in a situation where one of your countries of citizenship doesn't like dual citizenships, you don't really have to hide the existence of multiple passports.

So enter a country with whichever passport is appropriate, and if there is an exit control be sure to use the same passport when leaving. When entering the next country, if you use a different passport and are asked about stamps etc. you can show the other passport.

Typically I've used my US passport to enter the US and my Canadian when I return to Canada, but have always told the Canadian border folks that entered the US with a US passport, hence the lack of an entry stamp in the Canadian passport. Never been a problem.

PS on edit - if any of the countries you belong to or visit dislike multiple citizenships or multiple passports, you have a more complex problem on your hands.
 
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