Border Control in the 21st Century

border control 20th centuryBorder Control in the 21st Century
has become an increasingly important issue in the 21st century due to the rise of globalization and international travel. Governments globally enforce measures to control border movement. Passports play a crucial role in this process, facilitating secure identification.

Before the 21st century

there were no standardized documents required for international travel. People would simply show their identification and travel documents, if any, to border officials, who would often rely on their own discretion to decide whether to allow the person to enter the country or not. This system was inefficient and prone to abuse, with many people traveling without proper documents and many border officials being corrupt. Border Control 21st Century

Passport Standardization

The development of passports as a standardized form of identification for international travel helped to solve many of these problems. Passports are documents issued by governments to their citizens, which contain information about the person’s identity, nationality, and other relevant information. They are required for entry into most countries around the world, and are checked by border officials to ensure that the person is who they claim to be.

Widespread use of passports Border Control 21st Century

The use of passports became widespread in the early 21st century, with many countries introducing them as a requirement for entry into their territory. However, it was not until after World War I that passports became a universal requirement for international travel.

In addition to passports, governments also implemented other measures to control the movement of people across their borders. These measures included visa requirements, which require people to obtain permission from the host country before they can enter, and border checkpoints, where people are screened for their documents and other relevant information.

New Technologies Border Control 21st Century

The development of new technologies also played a significant role in border control in the 21st century. For example, the introduction of biometric passports, which contain information about the person’s fingerprints or other biometric data, has made it easier to identify people and prevent fraud. Other technologies, such as facial recognition and fingerprint scanning, have also been used to improve border control processes.

Criticism and Controversies

However, the increased focus on border control has also led to criticism and controversy. Some argue strict borders infringe on freedom, fostering discrimination. Others claim controls are ineffective, costly, and difficult to enforce.


Despite challenges, border control remains crucial in the 21st century due to globalization, migration, and increased international travel. Advancing technology actively enhances control processes, yet governments must balance security and freedom, ensuring fair measures for all.

National borders in 20th Century Europe

FAQ Passport History
Passport collection, passport renewal, old passports for sale, vintage passport, emergency passport renewal, same day passport, passport application, pasaporte passeport паспорт 护照 パスポート جواز سفر पासपोर्ट

1. What are the earliest known examples of passports, and how have they evolved?

The word "passport" came up only in the mid 15th Century. Before that, such documents were safe conducts, recommendations or protection letters. On a practical aspect, the earliest passport I have seen was from the mid 16th Century. Read more...

2. Are there any notable historical figures or personalities whose passports are highly sought after by collectors?

Every collector is doing well to define his collection focus, and yes, there are collectors looking for Celebrity passports and travel documents of historical figures like Winston Churchill, Brothers Grimm, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Read more...

3. How did passport designs and security features change throughout different periods in history, and what impact did these changes have on forgery prevention?

"Passports" before the 18th Century had a pure functional character. Security features were, in the best case, a watermark and a wax seal. Forgery, back then, was not an issue like it is nowadays. Only from the 1980s on, security features became a thing. A state-of-the-art passport nowadays has dozens of security features - visible and invisible. Some are known only by the security document printer itself. Read more...

4. What are some of the rarest and most valuable historical passports that have ever been sold or auctioned?

Lou Gehrig, Victor Tsoi, Marilyn Monroe, James Joyce, and Albert Einstein when it comes to the most expensive ones. Read more...

5. How do diplomatic passports differ from regular passports, and what makes them significant to collectors?

Such documents were often held by officials in high ranks, like ambassadors, consuls or special envoys. Furthermore, these travel documents are often frequently traveled. Hence, they hold a tapestry of stamps or visas. Partly from unusual places.

6. Can you provide insights into the stories behind specific historical passports that offer unique insights into past travel and migration trends?

A passport tells the story of its bearer and these stories can be everything - surprising, sad, vivid. Isabella Bird and her travels (1831-1904) or Mary Kingsley, a fearless Lady explorer.

7. What role did passports play during significant historical events, such as wartime travel restrictions or international treaties?

During war, a passport could have been a matter of life or death. Especially, when we are looking into WWII and the Holocaust. And yes, during that time, passports and similar documents were often forged to escape and save lives. Example...

8. How has the emergence of digital passports and biometric identification impacted the world of passport collecting?

Current modern passports having now often a sparkling, flashy design. This has mainly two reasons. 1. Improved security and 2. Displaying a countries' heritage, icons, and important figures or achievements. I can fully understand that those modern documents are wanted, especially by younger collectors.

9. Are there any specialized collections of passports, such as those from a specific country, era, or distinguished individuals?

Yes, the University of Western Sidney Library has e.g. a passport collection of the former prime minister Hon Edward Gough Whitlam and his wife Margaret. They are all diplomatic passports and I had the pleasure to apprise them. I hold e.g. a collection of almost all types of the German Empire passports (only 2 types are still missing). Also, my East German passport collection is quite extensive with pretty rare passport types.

10. Where can passport collectors find reliable resources and reputable sellers to expand their collection and learn more about passport history?

A good start is eBay, Delcampe, flea markets, garage or estate sales. The more significant travel documents you probably find at the classic auction houses. Sometimes I also offer documents from my archive/collection. See offers... As you are already here, you surely found a great source on the topic 😉

Other great sources are: Scottish Passports, The Nansen passport, The secret lives of diplomatic couriers

11. Is vintage passport collecting legal? What are the regulations and considerations collectors should know when acquiring historical passports?

First, it's important to stress that each country has its own laws when it comes to passports. Collecting old vintage passports for historical or educational reasons is safe and legal, or at least tolerated. More details on the legal aspects are here...

Does this article spark your curiosity about passport collecting and the history of passports? With this valuable information, you have a good basis to start your own passport collection.

Question? Contact me...