The Passport, a brief history

The Passport, a small and simple collection of folded paper that evokes thoughts of holidays, travel, sun, and adventure in exotic places. But did you know that the passport is also the best way to control your movement and travel?! And it has been the case for thousands of years!


Where does the name come from?

The first passports were mainly known as “letters of request”. Their purpose was to provide the traveler a safe passage and protection throughout the journey from one country to another. This letter was dubbed "passe port", literally meaning "to pass through a port", because at that time traveling by ship and arrival through ports was one of the main ways of international travel. Hence the term "passport".


Passport’s origin

It was during the reign of King Louis XIV of France that these "letters of request" became popular. The King was the authority that personally signed and distributed these documents to his court favorites.

Following his lead, almost every other country in Europe set up a system using these letters of request to control travel. The system of visas that we know nowadays also started around that same time.


Passport retirement

In 1861, France abolished passports and visas. Why? Because with the arrival of the train, people were travelling more frequently throughout Europe and the system in place could not keep up.

Like before, other European countries followed suit and by the 1910’s, passports were not required anymore to travel from one European country to another.


But not for too long!

However, after World War I the passport was reinstituted to face concerns regarding international security… it was said that it would be a “temporary” measure.

Speeding up to the present passports are now required for international travel and a must have for anyone who wants to be on their travel game!


How do you think the passport story will evolve in the future?

Feel free to leave your comments.


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