These 35 Passport Stamps Are Worth the Trek Alone
There’s something inherently sentimental about flipping through an old passport. Each stamp, stain and dog-eared page evokes memories of past trips and bragging rights among fellow well-traveled friends.
Sure, a stamp from France will draw memories of croissants and coffee along La Seine, and a bright green stamp from Mexico might evoke the taste of smoky mezcal and mole, but the real brag-worthy stamps don’t usually come with an all-inclusive vacation. They’re more often than not the countries and attractions that draw thrill-seekers and travelers looking for a remote experience.
Here, we’ve rounded up some of the coolest, most-coveted and difficult-to-collect passport stamps — from Antarctica to Bhutan and beyond.
Although Antarctica is not technically a country, the coveted seventh continent is a must-see destination for many travelers looking to tick every continent off their bucket list.
While it doesn’t technically have an official passport stamp, visitors can obtain souvenir stamps at a variety of science stations based in the icy region.
Yes, you read that right. This village in Wales has the longest name in Europe and the second longest in the world.
The novelty stamp, available at the James Pringle Weavers shop fits all 58 characters in one long-winded arch.
While we don’t necessarily recommend chasing this passport stamp, there are still about 1,500 tourists per year that visit North Korea despite the risk and tight requirements to enter.
In order to receive this elusive passport stamp, travelers must book a tour with an approved tourism company and prepare to have two supervising tour guides for the duration of the trip.
Akhzivland is a micronation located on the northern Mediterranean coast of Israel between Nahariya and the Lebanese border.
Founded by Eli Avivi in 1971, the small country is home to just two residents and is only 2.5 acres, but it still has its own passport stamp for travelers who opt to pass through en route to Israel or Lebanon.
The Argentinian city of Ushuaia is the southernmost city in the world with its own passport stamp, a nod to its unique positioning on Earth.
While Ushuaia is a popular destination for those boarding a cruise to Antarctica, its local culture and food scene have legs of their own.
Tristan Da Cunha
Tristan Da Cunha is a remote group of volcanic islands in Saint Helena, considered to be some of the most remote in the south Atlantic Ocean.
Travelers hoping to secure this passport stamp embark on a five-day boat ride from South Africa before making it to the isle — making this stamp one of the most difficult to collect.
The Easter Island stamp is arguably one of the most visually striking. The charming stamp sports the internationally recognizable Moai monolithic human figures carved by the Rapa Nui people and is available for travelers to collect at the Rapa Nui post office.
Note that the local post office holds strict hours — you’ll want to double-check it’s open before visiting.
Upon arrival at the Cook Islands, you’ll receive a run-of-the-mill passport stamp, so you’ll want to head to the island of Atutaki to get the truly coveted one.
Known as “One Foot Island,” this popular destination within the larger Cook Islands boasts sparkling tropical waters, white sands and one of the coolest passport stamps on this list, which, you guessed it, comes in the form of a literal footprint.
What makes Iran’s passport stamp particularly noteworthy isn’t necessarily the design or that it’s difficult to collect. It’s actually the date that border security uses.
Depending on your date of entry, the stamp will actually follow the Solar Hijri Calendar, rather than the traditional Gregorian Calendar. This means that rather than reading as the year 2020, the date on your stamp would be 1441.
While Cuba is becoming more and more accessible for American travelers, it’s not necessarily why the Cuban passport stamp has made the list — it’s the festive design.
The only passport stamp in the world to stray from more traditional ink colors, Cuba opts to use a highlighter-pink hue that matches its colorful streets and zest for life.
The South Pole
Sure, the South Pole isn’t necessarily a country, but making the trek to the southernmost point on the surface of Earth is no small feat — and deserves recognition.
Adventurous travelers can collect a commemorative novelty stamp at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, a United States scientific research base.
A bucket-list destination for many travelers across the globe, this UNESCO World Heritage site in Peru offers commemorative novelty stamps at the entrance of the 15th century Incan citadel ruins.
The highly detailed stamp depicts the ruins from above and is usually in a bright purple ink.
Republic of San Marino
No, the Republic of San Marino doesn’t require the same sense of adventure or endurance as some of the other stamps on the list, but it’s still an impressive spot to commemorate.
Located in north-central Italy, San Marino is a mountainous microstate and one of the world’s oldest republics.
Guantanamo Bay, Cuba
Now, this is different from the colorful pink stamp you get upon arrival in Cuba. In fact, obtaining a stamp from Guantanamo Bay remains highly elusive for the average traveler.
Only Americans with military passports and business at the prison are allowed — and will receive both inbound and outbound stamps with every visit.
The Cayman Islands, particularly Grand Cayman, have become a popular tourist destination, largely thanks to the luxurious white-sand beach resorts and world-class scuba diving and snorkeling activities.
However, the passport stamp is worth a trip to the islands all on its own. Rather than a typical all-business design, this passport stamp features Sir Turtle, a character designed by Suzy Soto that represents the sea turtle, which has been linked to the culture of the Cayman Islands since 1503.
Is Greenland in Europe or in North America? Located between the Arctic and Atlantic oceans, Greenland is considered to be the world’s largest island.
While the autonomous country is geographically part of North America, in terms of politics, it’s curiously part of Europe within the Kingdom of Denmark.
Checkpoint Charlie, Berlin
Checkpoint Charlie was the colloquial term given to the Berlin Wall crossing points between East Berlin and West Berlin during the Cold War. Today, the checkpoint is seen as a symbol of divided Europe.
While it has not been used in over 30 years, tourists still visit the symbolic checkpoint, where they’ll find a range of novelty passport stamps at the Haus am Checkpoint Charlie museum.
Ciudad Mitad Del Mundo, Quito, Ecuador
Located approximately 16 miles north of Quito is Ciudad Mitad del Mundo, otherwise known as the Middle of the World City. It’s here that the equator passes through Ecuador, making it technically the exact middle point on Earth.
Travelers can have their passports stamped at the exact monument or at the nearby Ethnographic Museum Monument.
Churchill, Manitoba, Canada
Dubbed the Polar Bear Capital of the World, the small town of Churchill on Hudson Bay in northern Manitoba is home to a large population of polar bears that can be seen moving toward the shore from inland every autumn (hence the nickname).
The town is home to just 900 permanent residents but draws thousands of tourists who come to witness “bear season” and get a cheeky unofficial polar bear stamp from the local post office.
The Galápagos, Ecuador
Located in the Pacific Ocean, The Galápagos Islands is a volcanic archipelago known for its biodiversity — the islands are home to more than 1,300 different species of fauna and flora.
While the lush islands don’t have an official passport stamp (they’re technically part of Ecuador), the tourist information centre in Puerto Ayora issues a variety of novelty stamps for anyone looking to commemorate their time on the isolated terrain.
Svalbard is a Norwegian archipelago nestled in between Norway and the North Pole. Known as one of the world’s last wildernesses, the region is actually home to more polar bears than humans.
While the population sits at just over 2,000, the archipelago is a popular port for expedition cruises and boasts the world’s northernmost church, hospital and tourist office — which is where you’ll find the coveted souvenir passport stamps.
While Palestine is not technically a country, the region is recognized officially as the State of Palestine. The region is at the intersection of both Judaism and Christianity and has an unfortunately long and treacherous history.
Because Palestine is not technically an independent country, it doesn’t have an official passport stamp, but a variety of novelty stamps are available at tourist shops.
If you pride yourself on obtaining passport stamps from the path less traveled, consider booking a flight to Turkmenistan, the seventh least-visited country in the world. The central Asian country receives just 7,000 visitors per year — largely due to the fact that visitors can only receive a tourist visa if they hire an approved tour guide.
If you do manage to be one of the 7,000 international visitors curious about the country’s main draw, the ancient Silk Road trade route, that passport stamp deserves its bragging rights.
Known as the happiest nation in the world, the South Asian country is the only nation on Earth that values its Gross National Happiness over its Gross Domestic Product. While this sounds like the trip of a lifetime in the making, it’s notably difficult to plan and execute a trip to the country, which is why its passport stamp is so elusive.
Not only are travelers required to book with authorized Bhutanese travel agents, the country’s positioning among the Himalayan Mountains makes it one of the most treacherous airports for pilots to land, and only a select few pilots are authorized to do so.
Ask any frequent flyer, and they’ll likely admit to having a serious soft spot for Japan. Between the food, the shopping, the history and culture, the coastal country has something for everyone and is generally quite easy and safe, even for first-time travelers.
A Japanese passport stamp is not elusive or difficult to obtain, but it’s one of the most unique stamps. Rather than a regular ink-to-paper stamp, Japan issues a landing permission sticker that outlines two symbolic Japanese icons: Mount Fuji and a cherry blossom in full bloom. It’s truly a unique souvenir in and of itself.
Speaking of Japan, while the country’s official passport stamp is pretty cool, getting the elusive stamp from Chichijima, the largest of the Ogasawara Islands, is no small feat. While the region is gorgeous and well worth the trip, getting to the region requires a 26-hour ferry ride from Tokyo that only departs once every six days.
Travelers receive a commemorative stamp upon arrival and departure — and after the harrowing ferry ride, you’d better be bragging about it.
The Marshall Islands
Tucked in between Hawaii and the Philippines, The Marshall Islands are well-loved by divers for their crystal-clear waters and impressive collection of preserved “ship graveyards” from World War II.
Unfortunately, due to climate change, the chain of volcanic islands is at risk of sinking below sea level, and curious travelers should collect the elusive passport stamp before it’s too late.
Montserrat, a British Overseas Territory
While Montserrat may be a British Overseas Territory in the Caribbean, the island is actually rich with Irish heritage, dating all the way back to the 17th century when Irish Catholics were persecuted for their faith on other Caribbean islands.
To this day, many permanent residents claim they have Irish ancestry, and the territory’s architecture, especially St. Peter's Anglican church, looks as though it was pulled straight from Dublin.
Aruba may be a popular vacation destination, but its beyond-cheeky landing permission stamp merits a spot on the list.
The Dutch Caribbean island’s stamp boasts playful word art at the top of the design with its national flag and “One Happy Island” at the bottom.
Is it a peach? Is it a peach emoji? Nope! The stamp is actually in the shape of a coco de mer (sea coconut), which grows from an endangered species of palm tree that’s native to the Seychelles islands.
The cheeky nod to the coco de mer is arguably one of the most unique shaped stamps in the world, and the meaning behind it makes it even more memorable.
Most frequent flyers already have at least one or two Mexico stamps in their passport — but have you ever taken the time to look at it?
While the landing permission stamp seems like just another design at first glance, it’s actually pretty impressive. The unique use of ink resembles the flag of Mexico, thanks to the red and green hues.
The Caribbean Netherlands have one of the most unique and charming landing permission stamps — depending on your point of entry, your stamp will feature either a cluster of palm trees, a starry sky or a striking flamingo.
Note that the exit stamps match, so if you don’t want a matching set, consider exiting via a different island.
Algeria may not be necessarily difficult to visit, but its passport stamp still makes the list because of its lettering.
The entire passport stamp is written in Arabic, making it a beautiful reminder of your time in the North African country.
Located on the west coast of Southern Africa, Angola is the seventh-largest country on the continent. At first glance, its passport stamp looks similar to that of France or England with a basic airplane and landing information.
But upon closer inspection, you’ll notice the bright red airplane is a detailed 747, flanked by a circular design in a soothing green hue.
No, it’s not necessarily the stamp’s design that makes the Guatemala landing permission so cool. It’s actually the creative use of ink.
While it varies day to day, the Guatemala border security uses a color gradient ink pad, which ranges from shades of purple and red to blues fading into greens.