The World Passport is an identification and travel document sold by the World Service Authority, a non-profit organization founded by Garry Davis in 1954. Some countries, such as Mauritania, Tanzania and Togo officially recognize the passport as a valid travel document.
- 1 Appearance and issuance fees
- 2 As a travel document
- 3 As an identity document
- 4 As a political statement
- 5 Counterfeits and fraudulent issuance
- 6 List of notable World Passport holders
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Appearance and issuance fees
The World Passport is similar in appearance to a national passport or other such authentic travel document. The appearance is so similar that in 1974 a criminal case was lodged against Garry Davis in France regarding his issuance of World Passports. In 1979, the World Passport was a 42-page document, with a dark blue cover, and text in English, French, Spanish, Russian, Arabic, Chinese, and Esperanto. It contained a five-page section for medical history and a six-page section for listing organisational affiliation. The fee charged at that time was $32 and postage for a three-year passport with the possibility of two years' extension of validity.
The latest edition of the World Passport was produced January 2007. It has an embedded "ghost" photo for security, covered with a plastic film. Its data page imitates the format of a machine-readable passport, with an alphanumeric code bar in the machine-readable zone (MRZ) enabling it to be scanned by an optical reader. However, in place of a valid ISO 3166-1 alpha-3 code in the MRZ "issuer" and "nationality" fields, it uses the non-standard acronym "WSA". According to the WSA, the latest version of the World Passport was filed with the International Civil Aviation Organization. According to the WSA website, the application fee is $45 for a three-year document, $75 for a five-year document, and $100 for an eight-year document. A "World Donor Passport" valid for fifteen years with a special cover is sold for a fee of at least $400 which, according to the WSA, is used to provide free documents to refugees and stateless persons.
The applicant for World Passport needs to provide as proof of his or her identity along with the application for the World Passport either a notarized certification of the details on the form, a copy of his or her national identity papers or a fingerprint of the right index finger. There are known cases in which people have been able to obtain World Passports in names other than their legal names; see the section on fraudulent issuance below.
As a travel document
|Country or territory||Acceptance|
|Burkina Faso||WSA claims acceptance
Might no longer be accepted
|Ecuador||WSA claims acceptance
Might no longer be accepted
|European Union||Not accepted|
|Mauritania||WSA claims acceptance|
|New Zealand||Not accepted|
|South Africa||Not accepted|
|Tanzania||WSA claims acceptance|
|Togo||WSA claims acceptance|
|United States||Not accepted|
|Zambia||WSA claims acceptance
Might no longer be accepted
According to the World Service Authority website, some World Passports have reportedly been accepted on a case-by-case basis by over 180 countries (i.e., they have been stamped with a national visa or entry or exit stamp), and according to the World Service Authority some countries in the past accorded the document legal recognition.[non-primary source needed]
Success in crossing a border using a World Passport is generally attributable to the whim or ignorance of individual immigration officers, not official recognition of the document. The World Service Authority website has scans of letters from six countries (Burkina Faso, Ecuador, Mauritania, Tanzania, Togo and Zambia) according legal recognition to the World Passports. These letters of recognition are several decades old (e.g., 1954 for Ecuador, 1972 for Burkina Faso) and reasonable doubt exists about today's effective acceptance.
The World Passport came under increased international scrutiny in 1996, after the hijacking of the MS Achille Lauro. In the aftermath of the incident, one of the captured hijackers, Youssef Majed al-Molqi, escaped imprisonment in Italy and used a World Passport he had acquired in 1988 to leave the country and travel to Spain before he was recaptured.
Many countries and territories have stated that they do not recognize the World Passport because it is not issued by a competent government authority, and thus does not meet the definition of a passport. By 1975, Garry Davis had already been imprisoned 20 times for his attempts to cross international borders with nothing but a World Passport. In 2016 the actor/rapper Yasiin Bey (previously known as Mos Def) was arrested in South Africa whilst trying to leave the country with a World Passport.
Commonwealth of Independent States
The Russian government states that it does not recognise the World Passport. In a 1995 interview with Kommersant, a spokesman for the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Department of Consular Services stated that the World Passport is not an acceptable document for proving identity or citizenship status at Russian border crossings; only a diplomatic passport, official passport, seaman's passport, or general civil passport are accepted. However, one Russian media report claims that some members of the House of Romanov, travelling to Saint Petersburg for the reburial of the remains of one of their ancestors, were permitted by Russian authorities to obtain visas in their World Passports, in light of the special situation.
In December 2008, a man claiming to be a Russian citizen attempted to cross the border from Latvia into Belarus at the Urbany checkpoint using a World Passport; he stated he lost his Russian documents while in Sweden. He was arrested by the Belarusian border guards. A spokesman for Belarus' State Border Committee in an interview with a local newspaper stated that Belarus does not accept the World Passport at border crossings. He also claimed it was the first known case of its kind in the country.
The United States Department of State's official position on the World Passport is that it is a booklet produced by a private organisation upon payment of a fee, and not a passport. As early as 1991, the US Air Transport Association specifically included the World Passport in a training film as an example of unacceptable travel papers. In 2012, a Belizean man attempted to enter the U.S. through the Veterans International Bridge at Los Tomates using a World Passport. The man in question had prior felony convictions for drug trafficking and immigration offences, and had previously been deported from the United States multiple times. He claimed that he wanted to speak with President Obama about genocide in Belize. In a bench trial, Judge Andrew S. Hanen found the man guilty of felony attempted re-entry after deportation.
Peace activist Kenneth O'Keefe tried to travel to Iraq using a World Passport in 2003, but was rejected transit rights by Turkey, and had to apply for an American passport to continue his journey.
In 2004, two men from China on board Cathay Pacific Flight 302 from Hong Kong to Guangzhou attempted to pass through immigration at Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport using World Passports. The officers at the airport arrested them for illegal entry.
Also, though Garry Davis claims to have traveled to India using a World Passport and to have given one personally to Jawaharlal Nehru, in May 2007 an Indian citizen was arrested for attempting to leave India at Begumpet Airport using a World Passport. The man had intended to travel to the United States. His travel agency and Air India staff both accepted his World Passport, but Indian immigration had not.
In February 2013, both Panama and Costa Rica rejected the use of the World Passport by Sage Million, a fugitive from Hawaii.
Hip-Hop artist and actor Yasiin Bey (Mos Def) was arrested in South Africa on January 15, 2016 for attempting to leave the country using a world passport. He had entered the country using an American passport and has lived in Cape Town since May 2013. South Africa's Department of Home Affairs released a statement saying that Mr. Bey will be allowed to appeal the immigration action and possibly seek permanent residency.
Use by refugees and stateless persons
The World Service Authority sells World Passports to refugees and other people who are unable to obtain valid, authentic travel documents. According to the WSA, refugees in camps are given free World Passports. WSA reports that it "has [given out] more than 10,000 free World Passports to refugees residing in camps throughout the world" and that it "has documentary evidence that the issuance of such passports may permit refugees to leave such camps to seek asylum elsewhere or to claim other rights often denied to refugees". However, many of those refugees have found World Passports to be useless. According to statements by Garry Davis in the mid-1970s, major users of World Passports at the time included persons in Southeast Asia fleeing from wars, as well as holders of Rhodesian passports who were otherwise unable to travel internationally as no other country accepted their documents besides South Africa. Will Reed, a former U.S. Army soldier who renounced his U.S. citizenship in protest against the Vietnam War, was held in jail in Thailand until he attained release after getting a World Passport.
By 1991 the WSA claimed to have sold "hundreds of thousands" of World Passports to refugees. Many East African refugees arriving in Nordic countries in the early 1990s had World Passports. In July 2011, a Georgian citizen attempted to pass through Latvian border control with a World Passport, though he also had a valid Georgian passport in his possession; after presenting his World Passport, he requested asylum in Latvia.
Another category of users of World Passports are stowaways on ships. Vessel owners are legally responsible for the stowaways until they can find a country to let them ashore, but countries are often reluctant due to questions over the validity of the stowaways' documents. From 1992 to 2006 the WSA sold their document to such individuals on five occasions.
As an identity document
The World Service Authority promotes the World Passport not just as a document for international travel, but a "neutral, apolitical document of identity". Investor Doug Casey, himself a World Passport holder, has suggested that a World Passport is useful at hotels and other non-governmental institutions where security is uncertain; if one is asked to hand over one's passport in such situations, one can provide the World Passport instead of a national passport. Governmental authorities do not share this assessment.
In the United Kingdom, the Criminal Records Bureau of the United Kingdom's Home Office states that registered bodies should not accept the World Passport as a proof of identity, warning that "a fake ‘World Passport’ can be purchased online by members of the public and should not be confused with a genuine passport". The Isle of Man's Financial Supervision Commission, which regulates the isle's banks and company formation agents, states that the World Passport is not an acceptable document to prove either the nationality or identity of the bearer. Specifically, it classifies it as a spurious or fantasy passport, a term which it defines to mean as documents which "have the appearance of a passport, but are issued by organisations with no authority and to which no official recognition has been given".
With regard to the United States, the Social Security Administration will also not accept any World Service Authority document (including the World Passport and World Donor Passport) as evidence of identity, age, citizenship, alien status, or marital status for either claims or enumeration purposes. The Virginia Department of Social Services explicitly classifies all World Service Authority documents as "unacceptable documents" for verification of identity. The United States Department of State instructs all U.S. embassies and consulates not to provide any notarial, apostille, or other authentication services in respect of World Passports, whether regarding the World Passport itself or documents relating to an application for a World Passport. They warn that such documents could be used for fraudulent or criminal purposes. In 1996, an Indiana man was able to obtain a World Passport in a name other than his own legal name, but was detected after repeated attempts to use it to prove his identity when opening business accounts at various area banks. He was convicted of fraud on a financial institution, and his conviction was upheld on appeal.
As a political statement
Regardless of its almost universal lack of acceptance, an individual may also seek to obtain a World Passport as part of a political statement. A number of Russian citizens have obtained the World Passport as a form of protest against the "red tape" imposed by the Russian government on their own citizens aiming to travel abroad. In 1977, two mayors of West Bank towns applied for World Passports during a visit by Garry Davis.
Counterfeits and fraudulent issuance
Despite its limited acceptance, other entities have also sought to manufacture and sell the fantasy travel document, without the consent of the WSA. The Isle of Man's Financial Supervision Commission reports that they have identified counterfeit World Passports. Also, the first cross-jurisdictional fake passport case ever found in Guangzhou, Guangdong, China involved counterfeit World Passports. In February 1981, the local Public Security Bureau identified some Hong Kong criminals who were charging World Passport applicants more than ¥18,000 (more than US$10,000 at the official exchange rate at that time) in processing fees, and misrepresenting to them that World Passport holders could settle in any country in the world.
As mentioned above, Russia does not accept World Passports, but in the 1990s, many company formation agents in Russia sold the World Passport together in a package-deal with the setup of an offshore company (international business company), and falsely claimed that all countries of the world accept it as an identity document. In some cases such companies charged up to US$1,000 for the document alone.
In Malaysia in 1994, a Nigerian man was arrested at the Central Market, Kuala Lumpur by tourist police during an identity check, after he showed a World Passport. A search of his belongings showed that he carried a total of five World Passports, as well as a Nigerian passport that had been used by another person to travel to Malaysia and Hong Kong. Authorities suspected he might have been trying to sell the fantasy travel documents to other foreign nationals lacking valid travel documents.
List of notable World Passport holders
This is a list of notable people who have been sold or given World Passports. Some may have made applications for World Passports of their own volition, while others were unilaterally given World Passports on the initiative of the WSA.
- Garry Davis, WSA founder; holds World Passport No. 1, originally manufactured in 1954
- Triston Jay Amero, American man charged with hotel bombings in Bolivia
- Doug Casey, American investor; received his World Passport from Garry Davis in the 1970s, and claims to have used it to travel to Iceland, French Polynesia, Honduras, Costa Rica, and Peru
- Shani Davis, world- and Olympic-champion American speedskater
- Youssef Majed al-Molqi, one of the hijackers of the MS Achille Lauro in 1985; acquired his World Passport in 1988 when he was in jail but never used it for travel
- Jawaharlal Nehru, Indian prime minister; Garry Davis presented him with a World Passport in 1956
- Kenneth O'Keefe, American peace activist; unsuccessfully attempted to use a World Passport to travel to Iraq in 2003
- Joel Slater, Iowa man who renounced U.S. citizenship in Australia in 1987 and thereby became stateless
- William Worthy, American journalist; bought a World Passport in 1957 while in China
- Yehudi Menuhin, world renown violinist and conductor; owner of a World Passport since 1954, received an honorary World Passport from Garry Davis in 1984 
- Vytautas Landsbergis, first post-Soviet leader of Lithuania, received a World Passport from Garry Davis in 1990 
- Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th US president, was the first person to receive an honorary World Passport, and the second person after Garry Davis to be given one. Garry Davis sent him an honorary World Passport in 1954
- Václav Havel, last president of Czechoslovakia and first president of the Czech Republic, playwright; received a World Passport from Garry Davis in 1990, during the later's tour of post communist Eastern Europe
- Edward Snowden, NSA whistleblower who leaked details of several top-secret U.S. and British government mass surveillance programs to the press; was given a World Passport by the WSA while being stuck in the Moscow International Airport
- Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, was sent an honorary World Passport by Garry Davis while in the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2012
- Buckminster Fuller, architect, systems theorist, futurist and designer of the geodesic dome, received a World Passport from Garry Davis during a lecture in Philadelphia in 1956
- Yasiin Bey (Mos Def), musical artist, actor, presented a World Passport upon exiting South Africa in 2016
- WSA. "What is the World Government of World Citizens?". World Service Authority. Retrieved 2013-07-12.
- Table of travel documents entitling the holder to cross the external borders and which may be endorsed with a visa - (Parts II and II) and Part V (documents to which visas cannot be affixed. Council of the European Union. 1 December 2008. The World Passport is placed in the latter category.
- Mauritania acceptance letter. 28 July 1975. World Service Authority Website.
- Tanzania acceptance letter. 24 July 1995. From the World Service Authority website.
- Togo acceptance letter. 21 March 1983. From the World Service Authority website.
- WSA. "visas - World Government of World Citizen". World Service Authority. Retrieved 2013-07-11.
- World citizen, an article by Mark Blackburn in The Leader-Post (31 May 1974)
- 'World' passport termed advisable, an article by John Brannon Albright in the Bangor Daily News (26 October 1979)
- "THE WORLD PASSPORT". worldservice.org.
- Application Form for World Passport on World Service Authority's website
- Белорусские пограничники задержали гражданина мира, an article from Lenta.ru (23 December 2008)
- Burkina Faso acceptance letter. 24 October 1972. From the World Service Authority website.
- Nigeria: Information on the "world passport", its validity, the issuing agency/company; on whether it is recognized as a travel document by any government; and on its use by Nigerian citizens. From the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees website.
- Ecuador acceptance letter. 5 August 1954. From the World Service Authority website.
- Ecuador doesn't recognize Snowden’s 'world citizen' passport – MFA. 11 July 2013
- United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. "Refworld - Nigeria: Information on whether Japanese officials and/or airline officials at Narita airport permit boarding if a "world passport" is the travel document". Refworld.
- Macau Airport: Arrival Procedures. From the Macau International Airport website.
- A2.15 Unacceptable travel documents. 15 December 2006. From the Immigration New Zealand government website.
- Лучший Способ Потерять Деньги, an article by Svetlana Branitskaya (18 June 1995) in Kommersant
- U.S. Department of State Foreign Affairs Manual Volume 7 – Consular Affairs.
- Ukrainian Gov state newspaper.
- Vatican interest letter. 18 April 1983. From the World Service Authority website.
- Zambia acceptance letter. 19 April 1973. From the World Service Authority website.
- "WSA Passport Acceptance - Visas on WSA Passports". worldgovernment.org.
- What's a World Passport? article by Daniel Engber in slate.com (March 24, 2006)
- "WSA Passport Acceptance - Visas on WSA Passports". www.worldservice.org. World Government of World Citizens. Retrieved 4 December 2014.
- Achille Lauro killer likely fled to Algeria: Furloughed terrorist used documents from U.S. to escape, an article by Peggy Polk in The Washington Times (22 March 1996)
- Private 'authority' issues passports: Escaped terrorist among recipients, an article by Paige Bowers in The Washington Times (22 March 1996)
- U.S. State Department Briefing by spokesman Glyn Davies (22 March 1996)
- Oddities in the news, article in The Calgary Herald (5 May 1975)
- Паспорт, который только в Африке паспорт, an article by Valeriya Mozganova on Travel.ru (22 January 1997)
- Полоцкие пограничники поймали гражданина мира, an article from Naviny.by (23 December 2008)
- Documents for Refugees Criticized as Passports to Heartbreak, article by Karlyn Barker in The Washington Post (10 December 1991)
- 'World Passport' didn't work on bridge, an article from The Brownsville Herald (February 21, 2012)
- Electing to leave: A reader's guide to expatriating on November 3, article by Bryant Urstadt in Harper's Magazine (October 2004)
- Ken O'Keefe - On Being a World Citizen, article by Tim King in Salem News (10 May 2011)
- 持“世界护照”入境？白云边检识破偷渡者, an article on Sina.com (25 September 2004)
- 'World Passport' Given to Nehru by Garry Davis, a Chicago Daily Tribune article (9 June 1956)
- Excludable alien with world passport, a Times of India article (10 December 2002)
- 'World passport' to nowhere, The Times of India article (24 May 2007)
- American Fugitive Expat Sage Million Hiding in Volcan, Panama Guide article (4 April 2013)
- "World Citizen News - Articles". worldcitnews.org.
- U.S. Native advocates borderless world, an article in The Southeast Missourian (27 August 1975)
- 'People Smugglers' Send New Tide of Refugees Onto Nordic Shores, article by Henry Kamm in The New York Times (15 February 1993)
- Georgian citizen presents world passport to Latvian border guards, an article by Alla Petrova in The Baltic Course, 27 July 2011
- Stowaway: A man with no country. From port to port, he is trapped on a ship., article by Gaiutra Bahadur in The Philadelphia Inquirer (30 January 2006)
- The World Passport on the World Service Authority website
- "Doug Casey on Second Passports". International Man.
- Disclosure News, May 2009
- Public Warning: False Identity Documents on Gov.im
- RM 10210.720 Other and Novelty Birth Records, Social Security Administration, 2 May 2011
- Virginia Department of Social Services; Auxiliary Grant Program, NOn Financial REquirements, Volume II, Part III, Chapter C, page 6]
- 7 FAM 890 UNUSUAL NOTARIAL REQUESTS. See: "7 FAM 893 NOTARIZATION OF WORLD SERVICE AUTHORITY-RELATED DOCUMENTS" (28 December 2007).
- Message re apostille issues, Department of State (8 July 2004)
- Asghar v. State of Indiana (3 September 1998)
- Зачем россияне становятся Гражданами Мира?, an article in Abakan Gazeta (17 September 2009)
- World Citizen Makes Offer To Arabs, an article in the Observer-Reporter (January 22, 1977)
- 警界纵横, on the website of the Guangzhou Public Security Bureau, gzjd.gov.cn
- Осторожно: стантия лоховская. Не пытайтесь стать "гражданином мира", article by Sergey Zatsepin in Argumenty i Fakty (5 February 1997)
- Nigerian with 'World Passports' detained, an article in the New Straits Times (20 May 1994)
- A Talk With the Holder Of World Passport No. 1: "Passports Are a Joke", article by Harry Benson in The New York Times (October 18, 1970)
- "Garry Davis - History". garrydavis.org.
- Shani Davis Official Biography. Retrieved August 1, 2013.
- We issue passports so people can escape injustice, not elude justice., The Washington Times (March 27, 1996)
- Cobb, Kim (1991-07-04). "Iowan prefers to be a man without a country". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2012-05-12.
- Bill Worthy hailed as 'World Citizen', an article in the Baltimore Afro-American (February 9, 1957)
- "World Government, Ready Or Not!". google.com.
- Het Wereldpaspoort in Europa - Wold Passport - Passeport Mondial. YouTube. 4 March 2009.
- The Hindustan Times, Saturday, June 9, 1956
- "Letters To World Citizens", Garry Davis, 2004, pp.99-100
- https://twitter.com/worldcitizengov/status/354342214782054400/photo/1 World Service Authority press release, World Service Twitter
- http://www.expertclick.com/NRWire/Releasedetails.aspx?id=45686 World Service Authority press release, World Government Of World Citizens --World Citizen Government, Yearbook of Experts
- http://www.expertclick.com/NRWire/Releasedetails.aspx?id=41434 World Service Authority press release, World Government Of World Citizens --World Citizen Government, Yearbook of Experts
- http://blog.worldservice.org/2010/05/world-thought-corollary-to-world-action.html Garry Davis' blog
- "Mos Def, wife, mom and four children must depart SA: statement from Home Affairs". Times LIVE. 15 January 2016. Retrieved 2016-01-16.
- Asylum seekers try their luck with 'world passport', article by Matthew Vella in Malta Today (7 February 2010)
- The World Passport on the World Service Authority website
- UNHCR document written by the Refugee and Immigration Board of Canada
- Mark Charles Thomas' case: Rominger Legal (2000-07-07). "99-1334 -- U.S. v. Thomas". Rominger Legal.
- Mos Def