Making your passport last longer when running short of pages

By Chris Chamberlin, April 9 2018

Running out of pages in your passport but still have a while before it expires? It's an issue that many business travellers face, especially now that Australia has axed the larger, 66-page ‘frequent traveller’ passport.

Rather than shelling out for brand new passport years before yours expires, however, you may be able to maximise its life by affixing a simple sticky note over any pages you’d rather keep blank to reserve them for future visas.

For example, most visas require at least one completely blank passport page – some even demand two adjacent blank pages – so if an immigration official whacks a stamp onto your last blank or ‘double blank’ page, you’d need an entirely new passport before applying for any new visas, potentially requiring replacements of the visas you already have, too.

However, if you notice your passport is starting to fill up, grab those sticky notes, write a short and polite message, and stick them in your passport.

I’ve been travelling with these in my passport for over a year now to preserve my last remaining ‘double blank’ page, and all the passport officers I’ve encountered have been most obliging.

Yes, my typing is clearly better than my handwriting...
Yes, my typing is clearly better than my handwriting...

Some smile, some laugh and some say nothing at all, but whatever their approach, the interaction has always finished with their stamp being placed somewhere other than those valuable blank pages: typically near other stamps to maximise space, which I always appreciate.

On my last visit to the United States, the border official even asked if there was a certain page I wanted my stamp placed on, just in case I was also saving space elsewhere for other, larger passport stamps.

Thanks to this approach, I still have room in my passport for one more large visa, and I expect these simple sticky notes will have extended my passport's life by around two years by the time it truly becomes full and renewing becomes necessary.

Just one tip: don’t physically write on your passport visa pages (even in pencil), because doing so could render your passport defaced and invalid if you encounter a particularly zealous immigration official… at least with sticky notes, there are no markings to the passport page and they can be easily removed!

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 May 2011

Total posts 220

Chris - that is genius!
The only addition I'd make to that is to write the note in the local language as well if you can for that occasional circumstance where the passport officer doesn't always understand English well.
MarkJohnSon Banned
MarkJohnSon Banned

19 Jan 2018

Total posts 90

To the extent you need to save space for a visa, this is a novel solution.

However, the problem with inconsiderate customs officials remains. I swear at least half of them go out of their way to put the stamp in the most inconvenient location possible.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 39

"... is a novel situation ...", 'novel', very funny, very clever. LMAO.

04 Dec 2013

Total posts 124

I did this for a while before I finally did run out and upgraded to a 66-pager. Usually no problems, but I did get a few antsy immigration officials who must have considered I was being uppity and telling them how to do their jobs...

I've got a few years before my current 66 pager expires and might need to use the same trick again to save the last few pages.

oxy
oxy

03 May 2017

Total posts 19

Great tip Chris! When I'm in line and wanting a stamp on a certain page, I make sure I pre open and flex back the passport on the page I want, so that when it lands on the desk it naturally opens up to my preferred page.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Jan 2018

Total posts 96

The simplest ideas are, as people say, the best one. Chris, I am a little bit curious how the whole system works entering non English speaking countries given your notes, for obvious reasons, are in English. Have you had any experience with that?

Haven't encountered any problems since I've put the sticky notes in when crossing borders in Fiji, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Malaysia, Qatar, Thailand, UAE, UK, USA and Vietnam, plus other countries too where the passport isn't stamped.


(I do realise that several of those are predominantly English-speaking, but just giving some more examples. I guess the arrows on the note are self-explanatory.)
 

When applying for my Vietnamese visa (which, as a Brisbane resident, had to be done by mail to the Sydney Embassy), I also wrote a short, friendly note and attached it to the front of the visa application, asking if they could kindly place my visa on page X, as I was running out of space.

 

That was a single blank page (which is all Vietnam requires) as opposed to a 'double blank' page, and they put it right where I wanted it, leaving my 'double blank' intact, which I was very happy with.

QF

24 Jan 2016

Total posts 27

Hi Chris.

 

You can now do your Vietnam visa completely online, which saves a whole page. Not sure if you applied for your Vietnam visa through Sydney prior to this e-visa being implemented. This is the government portal, not a third party visa service. I did this last month and it worked a treat. Apologies if you're already aware of this. For reference, the link is here:https://www.xuatnhapcanh.gov.vn/

Thanks for sharing Lachlan - eVisas weren't an option when I travelled, and I wasn't keen on doing the separate 'visa on arrival' thing for data security reasons (as online registration was required first for the VoA, but there was no official government website for this so you had to trust a random private website and hope they were legit). Nice find!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

31 Aug 2012

Total posts 194

There is always some bloody-minded immigration type who is having a bad day, or life, and wants to bring you down too.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 Jun 2015

Total posts 107

I have found a paperclip also works for flipping directly to where you want stamped.

17 Sep 2015

Total posts 391

Fortunately some nations have reduced the diameter of their stamps. This helps (assuming they can't or won't stop placing stamps on passport pages.)

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

04 Apr 2018

Total posts 8

great idea! I've been funnelled through the self-exit immigration normally reserved for residents leaving SIN the last few times, which has saved a couple of exit stamps!
ajd
ajd

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

27 Nov 2014

Total posts 40

At this point, it's safe to say that the electronic departure gates at SIN are no longer "normally" reserved for residents - I think I've had maybe a single occasion when I haven't been told to use the self-service gate at Changi in the last 4 years.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Dec 2015

Total posts 1

Thanks Chris

As we pay more than most other countries for our passports I started putting DO NOT STAMP THIS PAGE post-it notes and bound up the remaining unused pages using post it notes 6 years ago. I endeavour to tell officials where to stamp and most oblige.


One male Australian border agent said I had been tampering with my passport but his female boss rapidly dismissed his objections when I complained about the high cost of Australian passports.


I have now put a note in the front saying 'if you do not need to stamp then please don't stamp my $300 passport'. Why do passports get stamped? It seems so anachronistic.

Why can't a new passport be issued in Australia with the same expiry date if a passport is full anyway? I believe this is the case in UK.

23 Mar 2015

Total posts 4

A new passport can now be issued with the same passport number if your passport is full and with the same expiry date but at a ridiculous cost of $178.00. I just had to apply for a new one because I have 1 single page left with 3 years to go but paying $278.00 for the new passport was a better deal. I guess you weigh it up with how many years you have left. Getting rid of the 64 page passport was wrong!
I wonder if the Visa sticker needs to be on a blank page at all. What if it stick on a full page and cover the previous stamps, would that miss anything?

I found some of the visa can be peeled off easily, so if you don't need the Visa anymore and not planning to return to the country for any foreseeable future, is it a crime to remove it?

I once asked a youngish Australian Agent to put the entry stamp next to my most recent exist stamp for obvious reason. His replied was that he would put the stamp wherever he please. I was going to ask if that include his forehead too but I held back.

15 Apr 2018

Total posts 1

I do exactly the same. However CX check in agent at Manchesaid I had been tampering with my passport, and would not allow me to check in. So I removed the notes from my second passport, and gave that to her, at which point I was told I had been aggressive, and would not be allowed either! Another agent 10mins later did check me in. Now have an official letter from CX saying that it’s OK!

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