eli5: How was the authenticity of a foreign passport ensured, before cryptographic signatures there a thing?

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eli5: How was the authenticity of a foreign passport ensured, before cryptographic signatures there a thing?

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Anonymous 0 Comments

Security evolved over time, just like with currency. Things started off simple, like having the official wax seal or notary imprint, rubber stamps, etc that could only be had if the document was official. Forgers got more sophisticated and started duplicating these features, so governments had to add more security features. Watermarks, iridescent inks, holograms, etc.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Primarily be seeing if the picture matched your face. The passports were/are full of other printed elements to help confirm their authenticity just like banknotes.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Watermarks are/were the hardest thing to forge, as well as the quality of the paper and the passport in general.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Mostly by high fidelity production methods that were prohibitively expensive to counterfeit.

As part of diplomatic relationships, countries would tell each other what copy protections they’d implemented.

Stuff like complex, small filigree on the page, UV ink, “holographic” elements, etc are all things that require large, expensive machinery and expertise to produce. This could be cost effective if your going to print 20 million passports as a government, but outrageously expensive to do for 20 passports for a criminal gang. Thus, you keep passport fraud to a acceptably low level.

Other elements include just ringing up the national embassy of the issuing country and asking them to verify the serial number against the central records (obviously this isn’t a quick process, especially pre computerised databases)

Also, if a certain national passport was often counterfeited, you might just stop accepting it as proof of id.

It’s worth noting that historically, most people didn’t HAVE passports. Up until the early 20th century, generally only diplomats and nobility had them, the commoners didn’t really have any national identification. Borders were much more porous than today. It was only during the world wars that the modern standards of “no passport, no entry ” became the norm.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Link about my country: https://www.wsj.com/articles/brazil-worries-it-has-become-a-haven-for-russian-spies-infiltrating-the-west-525021ba

Passports are rarely forged. It is too expensive to have independent high-quality material (paper, ink, plastic) and good prints for appropriate watermarks for producing counterfeit passports that can pass as legitimate. It is easier to bribe passport officials so that they produce a illegal passport document through regular process or to trick passport officials by going through regular passport process but using easier to counterfeit documents.

Anonymous 0 Comments

They dont, that’s why North Korean leader Kim Jong Il faked passport to visit Disneyland last time. [https://www.reddit.com/r/pics/comments/1984vu5/kim_jongll_and_kim_jongun_used_fake_brazilian/](https://www.reddit.com/r/pics/comments/1984vu5/kim_jongll_and_kim_jongun_used_fake_brazilian/)

But his eldest son got caught in Japan in 2000s.
[https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/politics/2001/05/04/japan-expels-north-korean-leaders-son/ed6c37be-aa3c-4081-9ebe-663e99632675/](https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/politics/2001/05/04/japan-expels-north-korean-leaders-son/ed6c37be-aa3c-4081-9ebe-663e99632675/)