International Civil Aviation Organization: A trusted international authority

Everyone on the same page

Have you ever wondered how the international community makes decisions about passports? For instance, in the past, spouses could have just one passport between them and children could travel on one of their parents' passports. Who decided that each traveller should have his or her own passport, and how did this "one person, one passport" rule become internationally accepted?

There is an international organization that develops standards and specifications about passports and other issues concerning the safe, secure and sustainable development of civil aviation around the world. It is called the International Civil Aviation Organization, or ICAO.

This organization, which is a specialized agency of the United Nations, was created in 1947. Headquartered in Montreal, it is the authority on enhancing civil aviation security around the world.

Leading the way

ICAO's recommended practices and specifications on passports are closely followed by the international community. For instance, in the 1980s, it was ICAO that required that each traveller should have his or her own passport, including children. This quickly became the global norm.

At the same time, ICAO recognized the importance of developing passports that could be read by machines. Canada introduced machine-readable passports to meet this specification in 1985, and nearly every country in the world has since complied with this recommendation.

The next generation

In compliance with ICAO's recommended practices, some 100 countries, including the United States, France, the United Kingdom, and now Canada, are issuing electronic passports or ePassports.

In a world where security needs are constantly changing, countries all over the world look to ICAO for trustworthy advice. As technology evolves, ICAO's standards and document specifications will continue to influence the passport's development on a global scale.

If you would like to learn more about ICAO and passports, please visit ICAO's website.