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The earliest reference to these documents is found in a 1414 Act of Parliament.
In 1540, granting travel documents in England became a role of the Privy Council of England, and it was around this time that the term "passport" was used.
In the medieval Islamic Caliphate, a form of passport was the bara'a, a receipt for taxes paid.
ICAO publishes Doc 9303 Machine Readable Travel Documents, the technical standard for machine-readable passports. These contain biometrics to authenticate the identity of travellers.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.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.
In 1794, issuing British passports became the job of the Office of the Secretary of State.