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The passport's critical information is stored on a tiny RFID computer chip, much like information stored on smartcards.Like some smartcards, the passport booklet design calls for an embedded contactless chip that is able to hold digital signature data to ensure the integrity of the passport and the biometric data.In the medieval Islamic Caliphate, a form of passport was the bara'a, a receipt for taxes paid.Only people who paid their zakah (for Muslims) or jizya (for dhimmis) taxes were permitted to travel to different regions of the Caliphate; thus, the bara'a receipt was a "traveler's basic passport." In medieval Europe, such documents were issued to travelers by local authorities, and generally contained a list of towns and cities the document holder was permitted to enter or pass through.One of the earliest known references to paperwork that served in a role similar to that of a passport is found in the Hebrew Bible.Nehemiah 2:7-9, dating from approximately 450 BC, states that Nehemiah, an official serving King Artaxerxes I of Persia, asked permission to travel to Judea; the king granted leave and gave him a letter "to the governors beyond the river" requesting safe passage for him as he traveled through their lands.The earliest reference to these documents is found in a 1414 Act of Parliament.
ICAO publishes Doc 9303 Machine Readable Travel Documents, the technical standard for machine-readable passports. These contain biometrics to authenticate the identity of travellers.Many countries normally allow entry to holders of passports of other countries, sometimes requiring a visa also to be obtained, but this is not an automatic right.Many other additional conditions, such as not being likely to become a public charge for financial or other reasons, and the holder not having been convicted of a crime, may apply.This may apply, for example, to people who travel a lot on business, and may need to have, say, a passport to travel on while another is awaiting a visa for another country.The UK for example may issue a second passport if the applicant can show a need and supporting documentation, such as a letter from an employer.