9 Fun Passport Facts From All Over the Planet

9 Fun Passport Facts From All Over the Planet

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Passports can open doors to travel and explore the world, but for some, they become a restriction on movement.

No matter what color they are or what stamps they have, there is an interesting story behind each one. Here are some interesting facts to help you look at a familiar document in a different way.

1. The Word “Passport” Comes From Italy

The word “passport” comes from the Latin “passaporto”: the written permission to pass through the port.

2. Initially, the Passports Had No Photos

And when it finally became mandatory to attach them, it was possible to submit absolutely any photo, even a family picture.

Considering the modern strict passport photo requirements, it is hard to imagine that the rules used to be so lenient. Families with children often submitted entire family portraits, for example, Arthur Conan Doyle’s passport from 1915 included a photograph with his wife and two sons riding on a dog sled.

3. Almost All Passport Covers in the World Tend to One of Four Colors

Namely, red, green, blue, or black. In the EU, almost all passports are “roughly red,” while in the Americas, blue and its derivatives dominate. Turkey recently changed its passport cover to maroon – to be closer to the EU.

But in general, in most Muslim countries the color of the passport cover is green because it has special meaning for the religion. Only a few countries stand out with bright colors. For example, the Swiss passport is bright red, and the Singapore passport is orange-red.

4. Why Are Passport Photos Often Unsuccessful?

A specific pose, inability to smile, and turn to the lens with the “working” side of the face are to blame. If you categorically do not like how you look on passport photos, you can try to get a passport photo online by yourself: so you can take as many photos as you need.

5. The Rarest Passport in the World

The Order of Malta, founded in 1099, is the oldest Knightley religious order of the Roman Catholic Church. Under international law, it is recognized as a sovereign state entity, so it issues its own passports and prints currency and stamps.

Passports are issued only to the principal officials and diplomats of the Order: the term of validity of the document is 4 years; at present no more than 500 people are among its owners.

6. Why Can’t I Smile in My Passport Photo?

A neutral facial expression is one of the most important requirements for biometric passport photos. The photo must accurately represent data such as the distance between the eyes or between the nose and the chin, for example.

Smiling, other facial expressions, or wearing sunglasses make these mathematical calculations inaccurate and reduce the effectiveness of the recognition mechanism.  For the same reason, the picture must exactly match the required passport photo size.

7. Many Americans Do Not Have a Passport at All

U.S. citizens only need a passport if they want to travel abroad. According to the U.S. Department of State, there are 121,512,341 passports for 321,362,789 American citizens.

8. The Israeli Passport Is the Champion in the Number of Countries That Do Not Recognize It

There are 16 of them – Syria, Sudan, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Algeria, Bangladesh, Brunei, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. Eight of them – Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen, and Libya – prohibit entry to passport holders with an Israeli visa.

9. On Norwegian Passports, You Can See… Aurora Borealis

If you put a Norwegian passport under ultraviolet light, the patterns of the Northern Lights appear on the paper.


The passport serves as identification as to which country or citizenship you belong to. It also has different restrictions. Be mindful and always take care of your passport to avoid inconvenience.


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