General Question

bil's avatar

How were people traveling when passport didn't exist?

Asked by bil (20points) July 16th, 2014

I wonder how were people travelling from one country to others without having passports?

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4 Answers

rojo's avatar

Difficult question. How far back are we looking? Before countries? Before tribes? Before family groups? There have always been boundaries. I would thing

Dan_Lyons's avatar

They simply traveled and weren’t bothered with passports.

CWOTUS's avatar

Welcome to Fluther.

It’s a good question. If you look into the history of passports and visas, you’ll find that they’re really just a 20th century invention – for commoners like most of us. At one time, before the advent of photo identification and mass data storage and regulation, passports and visas were issued to a government’s diplomats to identify them as bona fide representatives of the government to the foreign government to which they were sent. In other words, the French ambassador to the United States would carry a passport to Washington, DC, to identify himself and prove that he was indeed the representative of the government of France, while French citizens simply boarded ships and traveled here, there, everywhere.

As governments expanded and grew their bureaucracies – and especially when the United States began to tighten its immigration policies against what were then considered “undesirable” immigrants in southern and eastern Europe in the first half of the 20th century, then the whole idea of visas and quotas and restrictions based upon place of birth came into vogue.

And here we are now.

susanc's avatar

And here we are now with a strange relaxation within the European Union, which now has empty stations where you used to have to present your passport when traveling from one nation to another. Creepy.

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