Tom Topol passport expert
I am a well-recognized expert & author on passports and their history, advising a wide range of interested parties like Foundations, Museums, Universities, Libraries, News Media, Film, TV & Radio. I published numerous articles on passport history and collecting of old passports (references & testimonials). My historical passport database is the most comprehensive source when it comes to travel documents.
“If you don’t find what you are looking for – create it – be it!”
(…and so I did)
Passport-collector.com is online since October 2010 and had 1 Million page views in 2019.
Legal Note On Passport Collecting
The purpose of this site is to establish a platform for collectors, historians, researchers, and other interested parties to share and exchange information, knowledge, and collectibles and to raise awareness of passport collecting as a leisure activity.
Passports as government property
Most countries declare by law that passports are government property and may be confiscated, withdrawn, or revoked at any time, usually on specified grounds. A confiscation, withdrawal or revocation is generally subject to judicial review. The definition of “Government property” is stated in most of the passports or the country-specific passport law and came up (by my best knowledge) within the last 30-40 years. Old passports (100 years old and more) do not have such a statement at all – not on the document nor in the passport laws at that time.
Is passport collecting legal?
YES, don’t worry, it is – as long the passports are obsolete!
I was in contact with several government agencies, and even they are often unable to give a clear statement. It is safe to say that passport collecting is “tolerated” as long as you have a good reason for your collection, e.g., for historical research. Usually, you will get your old and, however, obsolete marked passport back when you pick up your new one. This indicates that passport offices do not have an interest in their “property” by collecting “old paper.” Tom Topol passport expert
The German Interior Department, e.g., made the following statement to me by email(translated by the author)
“The retention of title extends only to passports and identity cards of the Federal Republic of Germany. The pattern of the passports and identity cards from the period before 1945 and from the former German Democratic Republic (GDR – East Germany) are very different from the current one. Those “historical” documents are therefore NOT protected.”
Patterns after 1945 till the 1980s are very different from the current one, so there should also be no retention of title, in my opinion. The statement of the German Interior Department can be used as an example for travel documents of other countries. However, of course, each country has its views and laws which must not conform with this example!
All passports presented on this website are obsolete and for research, educational & collection purposes only!
Tom Topol passport expert