A passport is a government-issued document used for identification, primarily during international travel. Due to border security and identity theft concerns, governments have added security features to these documents so that a valid passport can be distinguished from a fraudulent one. These features may vary by country, but some of the most common ways to verify a passport are to look for biometric chips, holograms, special inks and bar codes.
Since August 2007, the US has used electronic passports. To verify a passport of this type, first examine the cover. The background should be dark blue with the Great Seal of the United States in the center and the words "official passport" at the top and "The United States of America" below the seal. At the very bottom is the international biometric chip logo, a solid rectangle broken by a horizontal line and circle around a solid circle in the middle.
Inside a US passport are data, signature and travel pages. The bottom of the data page is machine-readable, and border officials may verify a person's passport by ensuring that the scanned information matches that stored on the biometric chip and printed on the signature and data pages. US passports generally come with 32 travel pages, but citizens may add more for a fee.
Like the US, the UK now issues biometric passports. A real passport issued in the UK features a burgundy cover with the words "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland" at the top, the UK seal in the middle, and the word "passport" and the international biometric chip logo at the bottom. Some UK passports feature the words "European Union" at the very top. The pages contained within are very similar to the US passport pages, except that UK passports contain both English and French.
Canada does not plan to introduce electronic passports until the year 2012. To verify a passport issued in Canada before that time, look for holograms on the information page, color-shifting ink, and photos and information that are printed digitally and cannot be erased. The final feature used to verify a passport from Canada is the so-called "ghost" photo, which is a duplicate of the regular passport picture that can only be seen in ultraviolet light. The cover should be navy blue with "Canada" at the top, the Royal Arms of Canada in the center, and the words "passport/passeport" at the bottom. The interior pages also feature information fields in English and French, just as the cover does.