World record: The “fattest” passport

fattest passport world record A total of over 1,400 passport pages during a life of travel

The passport is possibly the pinnacle of travel memorabilia in the era of electronic boarding cards and digital images. It is a gateway to new destinations and a log of previous travels. Given the significance of the small blue book for ardent travelers, it may appear that the owner of the possibly largest passport of them all—which formerly measured 331 pages and dwarfed the claimed world’s largest—would believe that January 1, 2016, marked the end of an era.

The Department of State’s decision to limit additional visa pages made the date melancholy for many passport holders, who were obliged to stop adding new pages to their travel documents. Prior to January 1, American individuals could add additional visa pages to their passports, but from that date, new passports could only have 28 or 52 pages. It is believed that concerns about visa fraud led to the restriction, which the Department of State claims “was implemented to enhance the security of the passport and to abide by international passport standards.” fattest passport world record

Eric Oborski 331 oage passportEric Oborski, who may be the owner of the largest passport in history, didn’t observe January 1 as a day of grief. His passport, which as of right now has “only” 192 pages and roughly 100 more than the next-largest passport rival, has become an important historical artifact.

Oborski says with a hint of nostalgic pride, “When it happened, I understood this now has historical significance because I doubt anyone else has the passport like I do, which will never happen again.” He claims that, as of right now, his passport “can never be replicated or repeated, no matter what anybody wants to do.”

How does a person accumulate more than 1,400 pages in their passport throughout their lifetime, especially considering that the previous limit was only 100? The solution is hidden in a gap that only world-traveling businessman Oborski could take advantage of. fattest passport world record

Following his high school graduation in 1965, Oborski initially developed a love for travel while on a trip to Japan. He never stopped traveling on the way back, passing through the Philippines, Hong Kong, Russia, Poland, and Europe. Oborski, passionate about exploring the world, acquired a job translating before setting up shop as a travel agent, organizing tours to Asia. Then Japan Airlines offered endless free flights, bringing a completely different viewpoint on travel.

Some others might object to going across town for supper, but Oborski’s viewpoint was altered by the gift of endless free jet travel. He remembers, “I would travel to Tokyo, have supper, and then return.” “I used to fly to Hong Kong, and practically everyone gave me free rooms and flights because I had such a fine job. I used to get up in the morning and decide to go to Japan since I had free tickets. fattest passport world record

The amount of worldwide travel that Oborski undertook seriously taxed his passport. The problem is that at the time, Americans could add more pages to their passports by taking them to American embassies. Oborski frequently visited the embassies in Bangkok and Tokyo, where he came to know the staff. Without asking, they started adding pages to his passport. According to Oborski, the US policy stating that each passport could only carry three additional sets of pages was only a policy and not a requirement. Soon, new pages of his passport were overflowing with visas and stamps.

Oborski noted that even as his passports rose in size, no one ever questioned their validity. Instead, border patrol officers would pass it about and make fun of its size. He remarked, “Everyone just thought it was remarkable. In whatever situation, anywhere in the world, I have never experienced an issue.

Eric claims he genuinely used the space when other individuals added extra pages only for bragging rights. He asserts that the additional pages were simply a requirement of his profession and are not a badge of achievement. However, there is pride in his voice as he talks about and displays passports with almost endless pages packed with all types of stamps.

When frequent flyer miles were introduced in 1981, the flow of complimentary tickets ceased. But by that point, nothing could stop Oborski from traveling almost nonstop. He then acquired roughly 15 million miles, using them to travel for free ever since. He laments, “I only have 5 million left now.” According to him, as the books grew, so did his sense of adventure and conviction that travel may enlighten one.” fattest passport world record

Oborski now uses each passport as an encyclopedia of life, documenting his professional and recreational travels. He talks about his most memorable and a few less-than-fantastic journeys, saying that “every stamp tells a tale.” Oborski intends to utilize every available inch of each passport book even though he may not be able to add more pages to his mega-passport. And he encourages everyone to strive to obtain just as many stamps as he has since, in his opinion, the best way to learn about the world is to experience it. fattest passport world record

Only US passports could officially add “6-fold-out extension pages” at a time as shown in the photo below. which gave the bearer a total of twelve pages (front/back) for additional stamps and visas.

US passport fold out pages added
US passport with additional fold-out pages added

Stay tuned for an upcoming article on the “The thickest passports in history”

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2 Comments

  1. Hi Tom,

    I loved your article about Mr Oborski’s ‘fat’ passport. It is quite something and most unusual.
    As you know, I worked for the UK Passport Service for 25 years and during my time as the manager of the Glasgow office I saw several unusual documents. Admittedly, I never encountered anything quite like Mr Oborski’s document but I have handled several ‘bundled’ passports which are fastened together using pink tape and metal eyelets and end up looking like a small novel! We used to provide this service to frequent travelers to enable them to retain visas in expired passports attached to their new ones using the method explained above. As you can imagine, if you take two Jumbo passports, as the 96 page ones were referred to, plus a standard one and bundle / tie them together then the end product was both bulky and pretty impressive.

    However, possibly the weirdest I encountered was a passport that had fallen into the sea and was ‘rescued’ by the owner firing a harpoon into it. The passport had swelled massively in the water, the ink had run, and it had a huge, ragged whole smack in the middle, making identification of the owner somewhat tricky. It was things like that which made the job so fascinating and worthwhile.

    1. Hi Robert, love your insights and stories. I assume in 25 years, you have had memorable moments on duty for HMPO. I hope we have a chance to meet in the future so you can tell me more exciting stories. Cheers, Tom

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