Passport stamp

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Passport stamps from the King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah on a Philippine passport. All dates from the passport stamps of Saudi Arabia are written in the Hijra Calendar.

A passport stamp is a rubber stamp inked impression received in one's passport upon entering or exiting a country. Passport stamps may occasionally take the form of sticker stamps, such as those from Japan. Depending on nationality, a visitor may not receive a stamp (unless specifically requested), such as an EU citizen traveling to another EU country. Most countries issue exit stamps in addition to entry stamps. A few countries only issue entry stamps, including Canada, United States, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. Hong Kong does not issue both entry and exit stamps, but issues landing slips instead. Japan does not issue entry stamps, but an entry sticker and exit stamp instead. Visas may also take the form of passport stamps.

Use[edit]

Immigration authorities usually place stamps in passports at a port of entry or border crossing, as part of their immigration control or customs procedures. This endorsement can serve many different purposes. In the United Kingdom the immigration stamp in the passport includes the formal "leave to enter" granted on entry to the country to a person who is subject to immigration control. Alternatively, the stamps activates and/or acknowledges the continuing leave conferred in the individual's entry clearance. Other authorities, such as those in Schengen Member States, simply stamp a passport with a date stamp that does not indicate any duration and this stamp is taken to mean either that the person is deemed to have permission to remain for three months or an alternative period as shown on their visa. In Japan, the passport entry sticker also contains a QR Code that allows the immigration official to electronically collect information related to that entry.

Most countries have different stamps for arrivals and departures to make it easier for officers to quickly identify the movements of the person concerned. The colour of the ink or the style of stamp may also provide such information.

Overview of passport stamps of countries[edit]

Asia[edit]

Bangladesh[edit]

Entry and exit stamps are sealed on passports for all citizens upon arrival at or departure from Bangladesh. Handwritten scroll numbers on the stamp make it easier to track a person's complete journey - a Bangladeshi leaving Bangladesh would receive a scroll number upon exit; upon entry, the scroll number would be used to summon related journey information of the traveler. The same is the case for foreigners, except that the scroll number is given on entry and then used on exit.

The stamps are always in black except the date, which is in red. The stamps contain an arrow exiting a door to denote departure or an arrow entering a door for arrival on the top left corner, and the image of the mode of transportation on the top right corner.

Rectangular stamps for entry and oval stamps for exit make it visually easier to trace movements.

Cambodia[edit]

China[edit]

Hong Kong[edit]

The Hong Kong Immigration Department used to stamp the passports of visitors entering and leaving Hong Kong (residents using their Hong Kong Identity Card did not receive a stamp). Just prior to and after the 1997 transfer of sovereignty from the UK to the People's Republic of China, arrival and departure stamps were identical at all ports of entry. Ink colour of the stamp used to differentiate the points of entry. Those issued at the airport were in black ink while stamps at Hong Kong's sea entry points were blue, green or purple ink. Stamps at land border crossings with China were applied in red ink.

As of 19 March 2013, landing slips are issued to visitors on arrival in Hong Kong instead of passport stamps, and on departure from Hong Kong no slips or passport stamps are issued (being unable to present the landing slip on departure does not affect a traveller's ability to clear immigration). However, in exceptional circumstances, stamps may still be applied.[1]

India[edit]

India uses the differentiation in passport stamp colours - entry in blue, exit in red - to quickly trace a passenger's movements. The stamp can be rectangular, circular or oval.

Israel[edit]

Traveling with passports containing Israeli entry/exit stamps to certain Arab nations may lead to a denial of entry. Since January 2013, Israel no longer stamps foreign passports at Ben Gurion Airport, give a piece of paper instead. Passports are still (as of February 2013) stamped at Erez when travelling into and out of Gaza. Also, the passports are still stamped (as of February 2014) at the Jordan Valley/Sheikh Hussein land border with Jordan.

Japan[edit]

Jordan[edit]

Laos[edit]

Macau[edit]

Immigration stamps applied by Macau's immigration service under Portuguese administration had slightly different borders depending on whether the person arrived by land, sea, or air. After the transfer of sovereignty from Portugal to China in 1999, passport stamps naming the points of entry and departure were introduced, but all in the same ink color. Beginning of 9 July 2013, the Public Security Police Force of Macau no longer stamps passport and instead, visitors will receive a printed arrival card instead.[2]

Malaysia[edit]

Malaysian immigration authorities apply stamps for both entry and exit in all foreign passports and non-biometric Malaysian passports without in-built microchips. Biometric Malaysian passports are usually not stamped as all movements in and out of the country are recorded electronically in the microchip.

Malaysian entry stamps for non-citizens and non-residents are rectangular and stamped in blue or black. They bear the date of entry, point of entry and terms of entry. Entry stamps for residents are also stamped in blue ink but have an oval shape and bear the date and point of entry. Exit stamps are triangular and stamped in red. They bear the date and point of departure. Immigration officers have a tendency to scribble flight numbers or stamp or write the name of vessels next to the entry/exit stamps.

A peculiarity is the autonomy of the Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak in immigration affairs. Foreigners who travel to the two states from Peninsular Malaysia are required to fill in immigration forms and get new stamps on their passports. There is also immigration control for travel between Sabah and Sarawak. Previously, Malaysian citizens from the Peninsular were required to present their passports and have them stamped as well; while they are currently still subjected to immigration control, passports are no longer required for social visits not more than three months.

Between 1998 and 2011, foreigners who entered Malaysia via train from Singapore were cleared electronically without their passports being stamped.[3] This is due to the dispute between Malaysia and Singapore regarding Malaysian-owned railway land in Singapore. The Malaysian railway operator, Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM) had its intercity rail southern terminus at Tanjong Pagar railway station in downtown Singapore, which also housed the border controls of both Malaysia and Singapore for rail passengers before 1998. In 1998, Singapore moved its immigration checkpoint northward to Woodlands Train Checkpoint near the actual Malaysia-Singapore border but Malaysia refused to move its checkpoint, citing the move as a plan to force Malaysia to hand over the railway land and the station, resulting in the anomaly that passengers travelling towards Malaysia being granted entry to Malaysia before passing through Singapore exit controls. Passengers travelling to Singapore were not affected as Malaysian exit controls were carried out on board trains at the Johor Bahru railway station, where immigration officers endorsed passports by stamping or handwriting. The anomaly was resolved on 1 July 2011, when Malaysia moved its immigration control to Woodlands, and handed over the railway land and the station to Singapore. And after over a hundred years of service, Tanjung Pagar railway station is no longer the southern terminus for Malayan intercity railway service. For intercity travel, passengers from Singapore leaving for Malaysia will now have to board at the new Woodlands railway station.

Nepal[edit]

Nepal is one of the few countries which use sticker stamps. Nepalese immigration authorities use separate Arrival and Departure stickers for entry and exit on all types of passports.

Philippines[edit]

At airports, red ink is used for arrivals/entry and green is used for departure/exit. As a general rule, passports of all travellers regardless of their nationality (including Filipino passport holders), need to be stamped at both entry and exit points. The attending officer also writes down the flight number and stamps the passenger's boarding pass upon departure with the same stamp that is used for departure. The shape and/or designs of the stamps are changed every five to six years.

Saudi Arabia[edit]

Saudi entry stamps are in black or blue ink. Entry stamps are in oval shape while exit stamps are rounded rectangular. All dates written on the stamps are in the Hijra calendar, and it is written in Arabic. There is no English on the stamps, except for the "EXIT" or "ENTRY" written on the stamps.

Singapore[edit]

Singapore entry stamps are in blue or black and either rectangular for those entitled to 14 days, rounded rectangular for those entitled to 30 days stay, or hexagonal for those entitled to 90 day stay. Exit stamps are circular and in green. Both depict the date of entry/exit and entry stamps also state the terms of entry and permitted duration of stay.

Both entry and exit stamps do not name the point of entry/exit but indicate them by the use of letters of the alphabet - "A" is used for entry by air, namely through Changi Airport or Seletar Airport; "S" by sea though the Singapore Cruiseship Terminal or Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal; "T" by land via the Tuas Checkpoint; and "W" by land via the Woodlands Checkpoint. The entry stamp has the letter running along the border of the stamp together with a code number while the exit stamp has a single letter marked in the center of the stamp.

Sri Lanka[edit]

South Korea[edit]

Taiwan[edit]

A set of new passport stamps was used from February 10, 2013. The Chinese characters on the new stamps are inscribed by Yang-Zi Dong, a famous calligrapher in Taiwan.

Thailand[edit]

Immigration stamps applied by Thailand's Immigration Bureau are stamped on all passports upon arrival at or departure from Thailand. All stamps are made in blue ink. Entry stamps are rectangular and exit stamps are triangular. Stamps bear the date and point of entry/exit, as well as a letter running along the border of the stamp accompanying a code number. Entry stamps for foreigners also state expiry date. From 11 April 2012, an automatic gate system was initiated at Suvarnabhumi Airport to scan certain Thai passports.[4] Therefore, there is no need to stamp on scanned Thai passports.

Turkey[edit]

United Arab Emirates[edit]

The UAE use oval blue stamps on entry, along with a smaller blue rectangular stamp showing the valid length of stay. Exit stamps are a green oval.

Vietnam[edit]

Vietnam passport stamps rectangular and name the point of entry, date of entry and whether the person is exiting or entering the country by using an arrow out of or into an box similar to the Schengen passport stamps. Mode of entry is indicated by an icon and also differentiated by the colour of the stamp - blue for air, red for land crossings. The permitted length of stay is printed with a separate stamp and the final date handwritten.

Africa[edit]

Egypt[edit]

Ghana[edit]

Morocco[edit]

Swaziland[edit]

Europe[edit]

Schengen Area[edit]

All 26 European countries within the Schengen Area have entry and exit stamps of a uniform design. As of February 2013, at a national level, 11 Schengen countries (Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia and Spain)[5][6][7][8][9][10] have developed computer databases recording entries and exits at external border crossing points. However, on a Schengen-wide level, there is no centralised computer database that tracks entries and exits at all of the external border crossing points of the 26 Schengen countries, nor are entry and exit records from national databases shared between countries.[11][12] As a result, law enforcement officials continue to rely on checking passport stamps as the primary way to check that travellers who do not have the right of free movement have not exceeded their length of permitted stay in the Schengen Area.

There are no systematic immigration checks when travelling between Schengen countries (i.e. crossing the internal borders of the Schengen Area). Passport stamps are never issued when travelling between Schengen countries, even when immigration checks between Schengen countries are temporarily re-introduced.[13]

When travelling to/from a non-Schengen country (i.e. crossing the external borders of the Schengen Area), the rules on stamping travel documents are as follows:

Persons whose travel documents are to be stamped Persons whose travel documents are not to be stamped
  • Third-country nationals (unless covered by an exemption listed in the right hand column)
  • Family members travelling without a residence card issued under Article 10 of Directive 2004/38/EC who are accompanying EU, EEA and Swiss citizens exercising the right of freedom of movement
  • Family members travelling with or without a residence card issued under Article 10 of Directive 2004/38/EC who are not travelling together with EU, EEA and Swiss citizens exercising the right of freedom of movement
  • EU, EEA and Swiss citizens exercising the right of freedom of movement
  • Family members travelling with a residence card issued under Article 10 of Directive 2004/38/EC who are accompanying EU, EEA and Swiss citizens exercising the right of freedom of movement
  • Andorran, Monégasque and San Marinese citizens
  • Third-country nationals holding residence permits issued by a Schengen member state[14]
  • Third-country nationals holding local border traffic permits[15]
  • Heads of state and dignitaries whose arrival has been officially announced in advance through diplomatic channels
  • Pilots and members of aircraft crews[16]
  • Seamen (only when their ship calls in and in the area of the port of call)
  • Crew and passengers of cruise ships
Logbook recording which border guards are assigned passport stamps at an external border crossing point in Spain.

Border officials are required, by law, to stamp the travel documents of third country nationals who do not qualify for one of the exemptions listed in the right hand column, even when border controls have been relaxed.[17] Exceptionally, if stamping a person's travel document would cause serious difficulties (such as political persecution), border officials can instead issue a sheet of paper detailing the person's name, travel document number and entry date and location.[18] However, in practice, border officials do not always stamp the travel documents of travellers as legally required.[19][20] If a person who should have received an entry stamp cannot show one either upon request by a law enforcement officer or upon leaving the Schengen Area to a border official, the officer can presume that the person has been staying illegally in the Schengen Area and can expel him/her, unless the person can demonstrate using credible evidence (such as transport tickets and accommodation receipts) that he/she has not exceeded his/her permitted length of stay in the Schengen Area.[21]

Also, whilst by law persons enjoying the right of freedom of movement are not to receive a passport stamp, in practice, upon request, a stamp may be given - see the gallery below for an example of an entry stamp being issued upon request by an EU citizen. Similarly, although by law heads of state are not to receive a passport stamp, in practice, this is not always followed; when arriving for the 37th G8 summit in Deauville, United States President Barack Obama had his passport stamped at Deauville – Saint-Gatien Airport.[22]

Although, according to EU rules, third country nationals who hold residence permits must not have their travel documents stamped, France nonetheless requires third country nationals holding a visa de long séjour valant titre de séjour (a long-stay visa serving additionally as a residence permit for up to one year) to receive a passport stamp upon their first entry to the Schengen Area as a part of the process to validate the visa as a residence permit; without an entry stamp, the process cannot be completed.[23]

Third-country nationals who otherwise fulfil all the criteria for admission into the Schengen area must not be denied entry for the sole reason that there is no remaining empty space in their travel document to affix a stamp; instead, the stamp should be affixed on a separate sheet of paper.[24]

Entry and exit stamps are applied in black ink, except for the red date stamp and a two-digit security code in the middle. The two-digit security code must be changed at least once a month,[25] although some Schengen countries (such as Greece) change security codes every day.[26] The stamps bear the country abbreviation within a circle of stars in the top left hand corner, the name of the entry/exit border crossing point at the bottom, and an icon in the top right hand corner to denote the mode of entry/exit. Below the name of the border crossing point is an identifying number - a record is kept of the identity of the border officer to whom a given stamp is assigned at any given time.[27] Entry stamps are rectangular and have an arrow into a square, while exit stamps are rectangular with rounded corners and have an arrow out of a square. The stamps do not indicate any duration of stay.

Border guards are required to ensure the secure storage of passport stamps in locked safes between shifts. Border posts are advised to set out clear responsibilities and instructions for the distribution and use of passport stamps.[28]

According to European Commission recommendations and guidelines, stamps should be affixed in travel documents by border officials in the following manner:[29]

  • in chronological order
  • in a horizontal position
  • in a clear and straight manner (i.e. with enough ink and not over the edge of a page)
  • the exit stamp should be affixed in the proximity of the entry stamp
  • no stamp should be affixed over another stamp or over the machine readable zone of a visa
  • if the travel document contains a single-entry Schengen visa, the stamp should be affixed over the edge of the visa, but without affecting the legibility of the conditions and security features of the visa
  • if the travel document contains a multiple-entry Schengen visa, the stamp should be affixed on the page facing the one on which the visa is affixed
Passport stamps by Schengen member state
Austria Austria
Belgium Belgium
Czech Republic Czech Republic
Denmark Denmark
Estonia Estonia
Finland Finland
France France
Germany Germany
Greece Greece
Hungary Hungary
Iceland Iceland
Italy Italy
Latvia Latvia
Lithuania Lithuania
Luxembourg Luxembourg
Malta Malta
Netherlands Netherlands
Norway Norway
Poland Poland
Portugal Portugal
Slovakia Slovakia
Slovenia Slovenia
Spain Spain
Sweden Sweden
Switzerland Switzerland

Albania[edit]

Bulgaria[edit]

Although Bulgaria is a European Union member state, it has not yet joined the Schengen Area. Nonetheless, it has adopted the common Schengen design for passport stamps.

Croatia[edit]

Croatian stamps bear the marking "ul" before the date for entry (ulazak means "entry" in Croatian) and "iz" for exit (izlaz means "exit"). After joining the European Union on 1 July 2013, Croatia adopted the common Schengen design for passport stamps, even though Croatia is still not a member of the Schengen passport-free area.

Cyprus[edit]

Although Cyprus is a European Union member state, it has not yet joined the Schengen Area. Nonetheless, it has adopted the common Schengen design for passport stamps.

Germany[edit]

Refused entries (Zurückweisung) are stamped in the passports, too.

Ireland[edit]

Kosovo[edit]

Romania[edit]

Romania is not currently a member of the Schengen Area, but is expected to join soon (2013 at the earliest). However, being in the European Union since 2007, Romanian entry and exit stamps have been harmonised with the format of the stamps issued by Schengen states.

Russia[edit]

Entry and exit stamps are placed in a passport regardless of citizenship, Russian passports are stamped as well as foreign ones, except the Internal Passports, with which Russian citizens may travel to a few countries of the CIS. The stamp shows the name of the country (КПП below the country name stands for checkpoint), the date, and the name and code of the entry/exit point. Stamp colours and series (the last number following the date) change every time in few years, currently the colour of the stamps is blue of 6 series, but it can turn to be orange or crimson as well. Entry or exit is designated by a direction of an angle bracket in the stamp. Ukrainian passport stamps are identical to the Russian stamps and have the same information. They can be stamped in green, red, orange, blue, and some times black ink.

San Marino[edit]

Even though in an open border agreement with Italy, visitors can have their passport stamped by the San Marino authority at the passport office downtown for a small fee.

Switzerland[edit]

Although Switzerland is not a European Union member state, it is part of the Schengen Area and so it has adopted the common Schengen design for passport stamps.

United Kingdom[edit]

The UK Border Force only stamps the travel documents of travellers entering the UK from outside the Common Travel Area who do not have the right of abode in the UK or are not exercising the right to freedom of movement.

Travellers arriving in the UK from the Channel Islands, Ireland and the Isle of Man are not subject to immigration checks as they are travelling within the Common Travel Area. However, travel from the European mainland (e.g. France) is still subject to immigration checks, as the UK is not part of the Schengen Area, even though it is a European Union member state.

There are no routine exit checks when departing from the UK, although the UK Border Force sometimes carries out a few spot checks. Even if a traveller is stopped for a spot check by an immigration officer upon departure from the UK, his/her travel document is not stamped.

The following table shows which travellers arriving in the UK from outside the Common Travel Area receive a passport stamp:

Category of persons Travel document to be stamped on arrival in the UK
British and Commonwealth citizens with the right of abode No
EU, EEA and Swiss citizens exercising the right of freedom of movement No
Family members of EU, EEA and Swiss citizens with an EEA Family Permit (first arrival in the UK)[30] Yes
Family members of EU, EEA and Swiss citizens with an EEA Family Permit (subsequent arrivals in the UK) Optional
Family members of EU, EEA and Swiss citizens with a residence card No
All other persons not covered in a category above Yes

UK passport stamps are issued in black ink and bear the name of the entry point, as well as the immigration officer's identification number. If the traveller is a non-visa national who does not hold entry clearance, the passport stamp includes the conditions of the leave to enter granted.

If the traveller is the holder of visa/entry clearance or an EEA Family Permit or a person exempt from immigration control (e.g. a diplomat), he/she receives an open date passport stamp (i.e. a stamp that does not contain any leave conditions).[31] Moreover, this entry passport stamp is stamped on the right edge of the visa/entry clearance during the traveller's first entry to indicate that the document has been used even if the document is valid for multiple entries.

North America[edit]

Canada[edit]

Cuba[edit]

Haiti[edit]

Mexico[edit]

United States[edit]

The actual deadline to leave the country for those admitted on a non-immigrant status is usually not stamped in the passport. Instead it is stamped to the I-94 card given to aliens who enter (primarily via land).

Oceania[edit]

New Zealand[edit]

All non-New Zealanders are required a visa to visit New Zealand (Australian passport holders are excepted from this rule). Generally these are granted at the border and are called a Visitor Visa (rectangular - see below). Australian Permanent residents or New Zealand permanent residents travelling on a non-NZ/Australian passport are granted a Resident Visa on arrival (Red - shown below). These were formerly known as Visitor and Resident Permits.

New Zealand and Australian passport holders do not have their passports stamped unless specifically requested (this also involves lining up at passport control and not using automated passport control gates). New Zealand and Australian e-passport holders are able to use automated border crossing and hence can avoid processing by an immigration officer.

New Zealand doesn't stamp passports on departure from the country. Holders of biometric NZ, Australian, UK and USA passport holders are also allowed to use automated border gates when leaving the country.

South America[edit]

Argentina[edit]

Brazil[edit]

When a holder of a Brazilian Passport enters or exits Brazil they will not receive a passport stamp. However, other nationals will go through customs and receive a stamp for both entry and exit. When entering Brazil by car from another country such as Argentina or Paraguay, few people go through customs and thus rarely receive stamps in their passport.

Chile[edit]

Colombia[edit]

Peru[edit]

Venezuela[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Immigration Department. "Non-stamping Immigration Clearance Arrangement for Visitors (with effect from 19 March 2013)". Retrieved 15 April 2013. 
  2. ^ Tens of thousands of hours can be saved by non-stamping immigration clearance
  3. ^ "Tanjong Pagar: Talks 'break down'", New Straits Times, 31 July 1998: 1, 7 
  4. ^ "Automatic gates to ease congestion at Suvarnabhumi Airport". Bangkok. MCOT. 21 March 2012. 
  5. ^ Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing an Entry/Exit System (EES) to register entry and exit data of third country nationals crossing the external borders of the Member States of the European Union, pg. 2
  6. ^ Communication from the European Commission to the European Parliament and the Council: Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council, pg. 6
  7. ^ Current state of play in relation to innovated border management in the EU
  8. ^ Council of the European Union: Questionnaire on the possible creation of a system of electronic recording of entries and exits of third country nationals in the Schengen area
  9. ^ Council of the European Union: Questionnaire on the possible creation of a system of electronic recording of entries and exits of third country nationals in the Schengen area (Replies from Bulgaria, France, Iceland, Italy, Norway and Portugal)
  10. ^ Council of the European Union: Questionnaire on the possible creation of a system of electronic recording of entries and exits of third country nationals in the Schengen area (Reply from Greece)
  11. ^ Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions - Preparing the next steps in border management in the European Union, p.5.
  12. ^ [1] Note that the European Commission is planning to introduce a Schengen-wide Entry/Exit System (EES) in 2015 that automatically registers the entries and exits of third country nationals.
  13. ^ Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council on the operation of the provisions on stamping of the travel documents of third-country nationals in accordance with Articles 10 and 11 of Regulation (EC) No 562/2006, p. 9
  14. ^ Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council on the operation of the provisions on stamping of the travel documents of third-country nationals in accordance with Articles 10 and 11 of Regulation (EC) No 562/2006 (COM (2009) 489, p. 7)
  15. ^ Regulation (EC) No 1931/2006
  16. ^ Regulation (EC) No 562/2006, Article 10(3)
  17. ^ Regulation (EC) No 562/2006, Article 8(3)
  18. ^ Regulation (EC) No 562/2006, Article 10(3)
  19. ^ US Department of State: Schengen Fact Sheet
  20. ^ Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council on the operation of the provisions on stamping of the travel documents of third-country nationals in accordance with Articles 10 and 11 of Regulation (EC) No 562/2006, p. 5
  21. ^ Regulation (EC) No 562/2006, Article 11)
  22. ^ Le directeur régional des douanes suspendu
  23. ^ http://vosdroits.service-public.fr/particuliers/F39.xhtml
  24. ^ Article 4.5 of the Practical Handbook for Border Guards (C (2006) 5186)
  25. ^ Regulation (EC) No 562/2006, Annex IV
  26. ^ Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council on the operation of the provisions on stamping of the travel documents of third-country nationals in accordance with Articles 10 and 11 of Regulation (EC) No 562/2006, p. 9
  27. ^ Regulation (EC) No 562/2006, Annex IV
  28. ^ Schengen Catalogue: External borders control recommendations and best practices
  29. ^ Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council on the operation of the provisions on stamping of the travel documents of third-country nationals in accordance with Articles 10 and 11 of Regulation (EC) No 562/2006, p. 5
  30. ^ UK Border Force Operations Manual: EEA Nationals & their family members
  31. ^ UK Border Force Operations Manual: Persons exempt from control

References[edit]

External links[edit]