The earliest documented reference to a passport dates around 450 BC. The King of Persia sought permission to travel to Judea. The king gave him a letter that states his identity and that he seeks safe passage. The modern passport dates to 1414 when King Henry V of England began issuing documents to his subjects to prove their identity (and allegiance) while traveling abroad. The term passport was coined shortly thereafter around 1540 in England. Some say it comes from the French meaning for port, or doorway, to signify the doorway, or entrance, into another country.
U.S. Passport Trivia
- The first U.S. passports were issued during the Revolutionary War. They were designed by Benjamin Franklin.
- The Star Spangled Banner is quoted on the inside cover of the current US Passport.
- Abraham Lincoln is quoted on page 1 of the US Passport.
- There is a disclaimer on page 1 of the US Passport is written in English, French and Spanish.
- Your passport expiration date is one day prior to the date of issue, ten years later. If your date of issue is October 30, 2014, the expiration date is October 29, 2024.
- Your signature is required on your US Passport book.
- Abraham Lincoln, Daniel Webster, George Washington, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy, Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Lyndon B. Johnson, Anna Julia Cooper and Ellison S. Onizuka are all quoted in the US Passport.
- Mount Rushmore is depicted on pages 14 and 15 of the US Passport.
- Outer space is depicted on the inside of the back cover of the US Passport.
- The current US passport measures approximately 4 7/8″ x 3 3/8″.
- Before World War I, American passports measured 11″ x 17″.
- Most people in America carry standard navy blue US passports, but that’s not the only color they come in. US diplomats carry passports with black covers.
- The US President and his close family get issued the black diplomat passports. US Presidents do not have to pay for their passports, and they get their passports for life!
- Military personnel who are conducting official government business carry maroon passports.
- And for a while citizens had the option of getting a green passport to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the US Consular Service.
- Visa pages come with your passport. You have 28 with a standard passport, but for no additional cost you can request the 52 page book. If you need to add pages later, you will have to pay applicable fees.
- Passports and passport cards: 14.1 million
- Passport cards is valid for travel by land and sea from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda.
- There have been 7.9 millions passport cards issued since 2008 as of March 2015.
- There are over 123 million valid U.S. passports in circulation
- 38 percent of U.S. citizens have a passport
- There are over 300 offices in 176 countries, 21 states, and Washington D.C.
- There are over 29 domestic passport agencies (26 open to the public)
- There are more than 8,100 passport application acceptance facilities nationwide.
- More than 13,000 direct-hire and contract employees worldwide.
- $3.66 billion in consular fee revenue
- 81 percent of revenue was retained by the Department of State.
- The Passport Division of the U.S. Department of State is entirely funded by fees.
Traveling to Another Country in North America: Canada, Mexico, Caribbean
All travelers are now required to have a valid passport. This means everyone traveling to Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, and the Caribbean are required to present a passport or other valid travel document to enter or re-enter the United States. A passport card is valid for travel by land and sea. However, if you plan to travel by plane, you will need a passport book.
Depending on which country you are planning to visit, you may also need to a visa. A visa is an official document issued by a foreign country, formally allowing you to visit. Visas are attached to your passport and allow you to enter a foreign nation.
Look through the State Department’s Country Specific Information to find information about your destination. You can research the entry and exit requirements, get more details about necessary documentation, and find out how to apply. You may be able to apply online, at that country’s U.S. embassy or even at the airport in the country itself once you get there.