Passport Facts

In our passport facts for kids find lots of useful information on passports and visa, written for children by children.

When travelling abroad, the most important item to take along is the passport. Remember that for most countries your passport must remain valid until three (often six) months upon arrival in the foreign country and the passport usually must have at least two blank pages to allow border control to put their stamps in.

But let's start with some explanations and then read through our fascinating fun facts about passports.

Passport Facts: What is a passport?

A passport is an official travel document which shows that the person holding the passport is a citizen of this particular country. A passport offers the passport holder the possibility to travel abroad and leave the country's borders and thus provides an internationally recognised personal travel document.

Passports contain in general:

  • name and birth date of the passport holder
  • birth place
  • signature
  • photo image

Nowadays, most passports include biometric data. This means when applying for a passport you have to provide information on your hight, eye colour and have your fingerprints taken. This information is then stored on an embedded chip on the card or paper fixed into your passport. This feature helps as a deterrent to identity fraud.

Passport and Visa Facts

Countries allow foreign people to cross their borders and grant access to their 'territory' when they show their passports to border officials, but usually passports do not automatically allow entry, as often visa have to applied for either before travelling or when presenting at a foreign country's border control. 

For immigration control many countries add entry and exit stamps onto the passport pages. See some stamps below. Can you find out which countries issued the stamps?

Chinese passport from 1898

Interesting passport facts: To ask for permissions when travelling to foreign places, is a very old custom and dates back as far as 450BC when the Persian king provided granted leave to travel across foreign land to one of his servants. The first official travel documents were however issued by the British in the 16th century. King Henry V of England, provided the first regulations concerning travelling citizens. If people then could not show their documents when passing through a city's gate or when passing posts while travelling through the land, they could even face exile!

Visa Facts for Kids

Many countries require not only a passport but also a visa for entry. Visa are often to be applied for before travelling and when entering the country, stamps are issued into the passport to show entry and validity dates of the visa.

Some countries, such as the countries belonging to the European Union, issue a visa which is valid for all the participating countries. The EU countries' visa is called Schengen Visa.

Did you know for entry to the USA, there are 20 visa types available? The category people have to apply for an entry visa depend on the purpose of travels as foreigners who want to visit the country for a holiday travels will need to apply for a different visa than people who will start to open a new business in the USA or students who plan to take up studies at one of the American universities.

However, some stamps are really tricky! So precautions have to be taken by some international travellers. If they want to travel to China, they better do not visit Nepal before or should they want to visit some Arab countries they might not be welcome if the passport shows also a stamp from Israel.

Dual citizenship

Dual citizenship is when people hold more than one passport and are regular citizen of two countries. This means if a child is born to parents of different nationalities or sometimes also if a child is born in a country that is not the home country of the parents, the child might be able to obtain a passport of the country of the birthplace. This means children can be citizens of a country, the parents are not citizen's in, such as when children are born in New Zealand or the USA, they can automatically claim citizenship in these countries. This special status is allowed in some countries but is not supported in all nations. 

Travelling with dual citizenship: Should you have for example a South African and an US passport, then then one must enter and leave the USA with the US passport and enter and leave South Africa with the South African passport. However, in different countries, different rules apply!

Interesting passport facts: Remember, that passports expire usually after a period of ten years and thus need to be extended in time prior to your travels. Sometimes passports are valid a more limited time, such as for German children's passports which have to be renewed at the age of 6 and from 12 years, children need to get a regular German passport. Make sure to know which regulations apply in your country!

12 Fascinating and Fun Passport Facts

  • According to Passport Index, the American and the UK passports are among the most powerful passports in the world (with Sweden, Finland and Germany) These passports allow travel to 174 countries without visa. 
  • Only one in three US Americans has a passport and this shows that also American generally love travelling, most of them travel inside their own country and have never been abroad.
  • In 1783, Benjamin Franklin ordered the first US passports to be printed. 
  • There are more than 9,000 passport offices in the USA! Did you know that most of them are actually located in post offices?
  • Every 2.5 seconds one UK passport is printed! This allows for 5 million passports to be printed each year in the UK. By the way, the UK passport is dubbed the 'red book', while the US passport is often referred to as the 'blue book'.
  • Passports are usually printed at top secret locations, however, not all passports are printed in the country they represent.
  • Standard passports contain 52 pages in most countries.
  • In many countries children need to have their own passport for travels. Passports for children are required to be carried in Canada, South Africa, In some countries, passports for children only remain valid for shorter periods (makes it easier to recognise a child on the image;-) or until a child turns 16.
  • Most passports are printed in at least two or three languages, that is in the national language and additionally mainly in English, some also in French and Spanish as the US passport.
  • The most expensive passports are from Turkey and the passport fee is there 100 times higher than for the passports from Swaziland!
  • According to old customs, most country's passports include a request page, with a text requesting from other nations that passport holders are allowed to pass freely and be granted support when needed. This message is not included in Swiss and Austrian passports!
  • Citizens of the Vatican state in Italy (the smallest country in the world!) carry passports, but there are no immigration control or border posts.

Sources for Passport Facts page and recommended reading:

Image Credits for Passport Facts page: Shutterstock and own images

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