The New International Encyclopædia/Passport

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The New International Encyclopædia
Passport
Edition of 1905. See also Passport on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

PASSPORT (Fr. passeport, from passer, to pass + port, Lat. portus, port, harbor). A written instrument issued by the authority of a government for the identification and protection of its citizens when traveling abroad. It is first a certificate of the citizenship of the bearer, and, second, a formal permit authorizing him to leave the State of which he is a subject. The origin of the practice of granting passports grew out of the right of nations, which was formerly more frequently exercised than now, to withhold from foreigners the right 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 his country for travel in another obtained from his government a certificate of citizenship which was accepted by the other government as a passport. This is presented to the foreign government as an identification of the bearer, who, instead of receiving a passport from the foreign government, is given permission to pass through by the act of an officer in putting a visé upon the certificate itself. At present Russia, Turkey, Portugal, and Greece are the only European countries where travelers cannot travel freely without passports, though some of the German States require certification for the purpose of police protection, where parties desire to reside for a considerable period in one place. In the United States passports are issued only by the Department of State and only to citizens upon application supported by proof of citizenship. No distinction is made between native-born and naturalized citizens in the granting of passports. The fee is $1, and a passport for the head of a family includes the wife and minor children. In foreign countries they may be obtained by citizens of the United States only by the chief diplomatic representative or by the consul-general, or, in the absence of both of these officers, by a consul. A fee of $5 is allowed to be charged for each passport granted to a citizen of the United States abroad by a diplomatic representative. An application to a diplomatic officer for a passport by a native citizen must be accompanied by a written declaration under oath stating the name, age, and place of birth of the applicant, supported if possible by the affidavit of a creditable person to whom the applicant is personally known. If the applicant claims to be a naturalized citizen, he must produce a copy of the decree of the court by which he was naturalized. In both cases an oath of allegiance is required for transmission to the Department of State. Every such passport to be valid must be renewed either at the Department of State or at a legation of the United States abroad at the expiration of two years from its date. Passports are not granted to aliens who have declared their intention to become citizens of the United States, although they may obtain authenticated certificates of their declaration of intention, which entitle them to a qualified protection while traveling abroad. Nor are they granted to naturalized citizens who may be inferred from long residence abroad and other circumstances to have abandoned their nationality. The chief value of a passport is that it provides the holder with authentic proof of his national character and frees him from inconveniences which be might otherwise experience while traveling in foreign lands. If lawfully issued it is prima facie evidence of citizenship, and as such must be respected not only by the administrative officers, but by the courts of the government where the holder may be sojourning; but it furnishes no exemption from the jurisdiction of the country in which he may be. It is nothing more than a request to foreign governments to admit the bearer to the enjoyment of the rights and privileges to which he as citizen of the country issuing the passport may be entitled by treaty or convention.

In some European States no subject is allowed to depart therefrom without first securing a passport from his government authorizing him to leave the country. Where this rule prevails the passport is required to be countersigned by the minister or consul of the country which the bearer visits. In time of war passports or safe conducts arc frequently granted by military commanders to allow persons to pass through the lines or to insure the safety of officers while in the performance of some duty which takes them beyond the lines. They may also be granted for the passage of goods as well as for individuals. Diplomatic representatives upon departing from a State in which they have been residing usually demand and receive passports to enable them to withdraw in safety.