Introduction to Passport

Passport, document of nationality and identity usually granted only to a person who is a national of the issuing country for identification and protection when traveling abroad. It is also a formal permit authorizing the holder to leave and return to the nation of which he or she is a subject. Sometimes, a passport must be examined and approved by officials of the foreign state prior to the holder’s legal entry there. The endorsement of a passport by a foreign state is called a visa.

The practice of granting passports developed from the right of nations to withhold from foreigners the privilege of transit through their territory. The formal permission granted to a foreigner by a government to pass through its territory was a passport. To avoid the inconvenience of this requirement, the practice was adopted by which a subject of one government, leaving the country for travel in another, obtained from the government a certificate of citizenship that was accepted by the other government as a passport.

In the United States, passports are issued only by the Department of State and only to citizens upon application supported by proof of citizenship and identity. No distinction is made between native-born and naturalized citizens in the granting of passports. A passport for the head of a family may cover children under 13 years old if they are traveling together. A U.S. passport is issued for a period of ten years and may be renewed upon expiration. A first-time fee of $65 is charged; the fee for renewal is $55. In foreign countries, a passport may be obtained by native or naturalized citizens of the United States from a U.S. diplomatic mission or consular office. A passport is not necessary for persons temporarily visiting Canada, Bermuda, Mexico, and certain other places in the western hemisphere, but some proof of U.S. citizenship is required.

In some European nations, passports are not issued without first securing permission to leave from the government. Yet passports are not required for citizens of the European Union who are traveling within the member nations.” (1)


Embracing mainstream international law, this section on passport(s) explores the context, history and effect of the area of the law covered here.


See Also

  • Civil Liberty
  • Civil Right
  • Legal Right
  • Citizen Freedom
  • Political Liberty
  • Constitutional Right
  • Political Right
  • Freedom of Speech


Further Reading

  • The entry “passport(s)” in the Parry and Grant Encyclopaedic Dictionary of International Law (currently, the Encyclopaedic Dictionary of International Law, 2009), Oxford University Press


Notes and References

Guide to Passport

Hierarchical Display of Passport

Law > International law > Private international law > Identity document


Concept of Passport

See the dictionary definition of Passport.

Characteristics of Passport

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Translation of Passport

Thesaurus of Passport

Law > International law > Private international law > Identity document > Passport

See also

  • Identity card


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