The how, what and why of the passport

Since June 2012, the law has been introduced that everyone must have their own ID card or passport. From this date onwards, children can no longer be registered in their parents’ passport. An ID card is only valid within the EU member states, while a passport is valid anywhere in the world. This makes the passport pretty much the most important travel document in the world.

History and origins of the passport

Around 1250 BC, a time when more and more trade was taking place and therefore more and more travel was taking place, it happened that kings who sent their people (servants) on a journey gave them a document. This document had the text ,let this person travel through your country in peace, and had a stamp of the king. This way, the people who met the traveler along the way and at the border areas knew that this person was traveling on behalf of the king. This letter was, as it were, the first passport.
In later times with many wars, such a letter was written with more details, the traveler’s profession and his destination were also mentioned in the letter. this way they knew whether the traveler was not actually a spy. As time progressed and more people traveled and traded, more information and therefore more papers were needed from such a traveler or a trader. Only during the First World War did the form of the passport change; from a set of documents to a booklet. A photo of the owner was included in this booklet and stamps could also be placed in this booklet.
In 1968 it was decided that the passport should look the same for everyone in Europe, and they should all have the same layout. Consideration should also be given to a way in which a passport could be read by a machine and not everything would depend on a person. However, before this was completely completed, it was almost 22 years later. Nowadays there is talk about placing fingerprints on the passport.

Apply for or lose a passport

If you want to apply for a passport, go to the town hall. You must first make an appointment for this. The cost of a passport is between 40 and 60 euros, depending on the municipality and season (a passport costs more in the summer). It often takes a week before the passport is ready, but take into account delays when applying for a passport during the summer holidays. If you have lost or stolen your passport, you must first report this to the police. The police will then draw up a report (called an official report) and with this report you report to the town hall to apply for a new passport. Applying for a new passport after loss/theft is often higher and it takes a longer time before the passport is ready, sometimes up to 2 weeks.

Types of passports

  • Identity card: has the same function as a passport, but is only valid in the EU member states.
  • Business passport: People who travel a lot for work are eligible for a business passport. A business passport has 66 pages instead of 34 pages. This way there is more room for (visa) stamps.
  • Military passport: A military passport is given when you enlist in the army and provides certain (work) privileges.


Passport photos

Your passport should contain a good photo of yourself and it must also meet certain conditions:

  • The photo must be recent, preferably less than 2 years old
  • The photo may not have previously been used in another document
  • Your face should be straight on (no side views) and the background of the photo should be light and solid
  • The perimeter of the photo must be 35 by 45 millimeters
  • You are not allowed to wear glasses in the photo if the lenses of the glasses are reflective and you are also not allowed to wear headgear. You are also not allowed to smile in the photo.

Because the requirements for a passport photo can change annually, it is recommended that you check the photo requirements again on the web page of the municipality in your city before purchasing a passport. With the changing requirements, it is often the case that a passport photo taken at the station in a photo kiosk does not meet the requirements. You can go to a professional photo shop and there is often the opportunity to have passport photos taken at the municipal office.