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Passport

For Microsoft's "universal login" service, see Microsoft Passport.


A passport is a document usually necessary for international travel, as it normally needs to be shown at a country's border. It identifies the holder as a citizen of a particular country, and requests permission in the name of the sovereign or government of the issuing country for the bearer to be permitted to enter and pass through the country.

It contains a passport photograph, a signature and sometimes other means of recognition of human individuals.

It may be stamped or sealed with visas[?] issued by the host country authorizing entry. Sometimes countries have a reciprocal agreement that a visa is not needed under certain conditions, e.g. that the visit is for tourism and not for longer than three months.

Some governments try to control the movements of their own and other citizens. For example, many Muslim countries will not allow entry to people with an Israeli visa in their passport, and it is illegal for US citizens to visit Cuba.

No visa is required for travelling between European Union countries, where EU citizens have full freedom of movement and work. For citizens of those EU countries which have joined the Schengen Group and who are traveling within the Schengen area, no passport is required either; an identity card is sufficient.

The Schengen countries are Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Greece, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden. The collective territories of these countries are known as the Schengen area.

Citizens of Great Britain and Eire do not need passports to travel to each others' country.

In most European countries, the passport belongs to the citizen, who has a right to travel to any country that will accept him or her. The only exception is that passports may have to be temporarily surrendered by people on bail and awaiting trial if there is a risk that they might abscond.

The situation is different in the US, where only about a quarter of citizens have a passport anyway. The passport is the property of the state, and can be withdrawn arbitrarily. In the past, prominent people with left-wing views, like Paul Robeson, were prevented from traveling abroad by this method.

As identifying documents, passports are frequent subjects of theft and forgery. See Sealand.



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