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Size and Shape Matters

Ever wonder why every passport in the world is the same size and shape? Turns out it can allbe traced back to one fateful meeting.

After the end of the First World War, the lack of a standardized passport caused a lot ofheadaches for border crossings by train. Officials often struggled with foreign languages,inconsistent sizes of documents, and varying levels of information. So on October 21,1920 theLeague of Nations convened in France to determine a standardized size and shape forpassports that has remained largely unchanged ever since.

The meeting—formally called the Paris Conference on Passports & Customs Formalities andThrough Tickets—settled on a standard size, shape, and documentation requirements for 42nations and the passport as we know it was born.

Most standard passports are 15.5cm x 10.5cm and contain personal information on the first fewpages followed by blank pages for stamps and travel documentation. While this basic designhas remained largely unchanged, passports themselves have undergone numeroustechnological advances in an effort to increase document security. Today’s passports havewatermarks, holograms, fluorescent threads, embossed letters, disappearing inks, and someeven contain biometric data.

And those who travel frequently will note that even the historic—and romantic—tradition ofcollecting stamps from a variety of countries is starting to disappear. In fact, the paper passportas a whole may even be obsolete sooner than rather than later.

Australia is testing a face-scanning system called “Seamless Traveller” that will eliminate theneed for travellers to carry paper passports at all. But until then, the passport will remain amodern reminder of a different time.

If you’d like to add to your passport collection, contact us today for a free consultation.

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