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In 1794, issuing British passports became the job of the Office of the Secretary of State.

A rapid expansion of railway infrastructure and wealth in Europe beginning in the mid-nineteenth century led to large increases in the volume of international travel and a consequent unique dilution of the passport system for approximately thirty years prior to World War I.

A passport does not of itself create any rights in the country being visited or obligate the issue country in any way, such as providing consular assistance.

Some passports attest to status as a diplomat or other official, entitled to rights and privileges such as immunity from arrest or prosecution.

On the whole, documents were not required for travel to sea ports, which were considered open trading points, but documents were required to travel inland from sea ports.

King Henry V of England is credited with having invented what some consider the first true passport, as a means of helping his subjects prove who they were in foreign lands.

Standard passports may contain information such as the holder's name, place and date of birth, photograph, signature, and other identifying information.

A passport holder is normally entitled to enter the country that issued the passport, though some people entitled to a passport may not be full citizens with right of abode.This may apply, for example, to people who travel a lot on business, and may need to have, say, a passport to travel on while another is awaiting a visa for another country.The UK for example may issue a second passport if the applicant can show a need and supporting documentation, such as a letter from an employer.These controls remained in place after the war, becoming a standard, though controversial, procedure.British tourists of the 1920s complained, especially about attached photographs and physical descriptions, which they considered led to a "nasty dehumanization".

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