The passports of almost all countries in the world are similar in shape and color, and inside are usually full of stylized symbols of the country such as trees, historic buildings, coats of arms, birds and more.
However, the new passport, which the Belgians have been receiving since the beginning of February, has all the chances to win the title of the funniest. On its pages appear the characters from the country’s iconic comic book characters – from the Smurfs to Tintin and Happy Luke.
Many of the images are from original comics, some painted more than 60 years ago, and others painted specifically for passports, such as smurfs contemplating a globe.
“We have chosen a design that represents our country, its art and culture well, with a little talent, skill, humor and modesty,” Belgian Foreign Minister Sophie Vilmes told the media.
The first known comic book character in Belgium was the reporter Tintin, who first appeared in 1929. The rocket from his adventure to the moon is on the inside cover of the passport. On the next page, the rocket reappears, this time smaller, but the look of ultraviolet light shows Tintin himself in a spacesuit. The creator of the series – Herge, is one of the most beloved Belgian comic book authors and has a whole museum in his name in Brussels.
After World War II, the comics hit Blake and Mortimer, two English gentlemen (an MI5 agent and a nuclear physicist) who tried to outwit Colonel Olrick. At the end of the 1950s, the little blue men who live in their tiny village also appeared. At a time when television is still not so popular and diverse, comics are a favorite read for both young and old.
To this day, comics remain revered in Belgium and France.
Border guards will be able to enjoy even more of the new Belgian passports. If certain parts of the pictures are visible to the naked eye, then when scanning ultraviolet light, faces, various patterns and other details of the characters appear.
The inclusion of comic book characters in the new Belgian passport is the fun part, but the document also has 48 new security features such as barcodes, polycarbonate pages and a laser photo.
Other countries have also introduced fun elements in introducing new passports in recent years. When viewed in ultraviolet light, the Estonian passport shows a night sky with twinkling stars. If you quickly flip through the pages of the Finnish passport, you will see a racing moose, and the Japanese includes images from the series “36 views of Mount Fuji” by Katsushika Hokusai.