Statistics show that 60% of Canadians have a passport, compared to only 36% of our U.S. neighbours to the south and under 75% of the Brits and Aussies who are known for their international travel. There is more to this valuable little book than meets the eye. The way we use and view passports today has changed from years gone by when it was “nice” to have one just in case you had to prove your whereabouts or you forgot your driver’s license at the border. Now it is a powerful document loaded with information.
Have you ever wondered what the immigration authority’s computer screen is showing when the officer scans your passport? What was that look? What are they reading about me? Do I look guilty? What secrets is it telling about me?
The printing techniques for passports today are very sophisticated. Some countries have passports which are designed with 60 different materials. There is so much information embedded in the pages of your passport, most of which cannot be seen by the human eye. Did you know there are microchips embedded into the cover? When I read this, I actually got mine out to see if I could feel the small rectangular chip which carries information used to identify me. No luck finding it! This is called a biometric passport. These are so difficult to forge that 90% of the world’s passports have biometric chips in them. Who knew!
On top of this, we’ve all seen the complex holograms on both our currency and our passports. This is an added layer of protection against counterfeiting as they are virtually copy proof. It would take someone with deep pockets to afford the machinery required to duplicate a passport today. Even the plastic front cover has a hot foil stamped seal embedded on it – a different one unique to each country.
Take a look at the artwork within your Canadian passport. From cities to historic moments, to our wildlife and our people, it makes us proud to be Canadian. Look a little closer and you will see the colours in your passport change in different light and temperature, another security feature which I found fascinating. Ink is no longer just one colour and the typeface used solely by the government is kept under lock and key – so no it’s not Times New Roman!
There are over 30 security features in each passport, some of which we’ll never know. Once you start looking closely at this valuable document it will be like getting mesmerized in a “Where’s Waldo” book. Like a complex relationship, you will never look at your little blue book the same again!
Happy traveling and don’t forget your passport!