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Why I fancy the Canadian passport

August 13, 2016

Last summer I stayed in Montreal for few weeks. At an event I met a guy who was born in Syria and grew up in Armenia. After chatting a while we noticed, that we both would love to be the proud owners of a Canadian passport, but for very different reasons as we realized soon. He wants to have the passport of a country where he and his family can live safely and build up the life he dreams of without worrying about getting killed. Compared to that my desire for the Canadian passport is unbelievably superficial! But nonetheless my silly reasons surprised him and made him smile, so I wanted to share them with you.

The Scottish heraldic animal

It all started when I watched an episode of the comedy show Last Week Tonight about the Scottish independence referendum.

My jaw dropped when I learned that the Scottish heraldic animal is a unicorn. Seriously: a unicorn!

Royal coat of arms of Scotland

Royal coat of arms of Scotland (Source: wikipedia.com)

And it gets even better. They have the unicorn on their passport!!!

I was so excited that I told everyone about this amazing fact which resulted in a lot of surprised and sceptical faces. But one of my friends already knew about this unicorn stuff and said, that she is always making fun of a friend of hers because he has a British passport with a unicorn on the cover. I said: WHAT!? Wait a minute! There is a unicorn on the British passport as well?! And why is the Scottish unicorn on the British passport?


British passport (Photo by Claire R.¹)

So I googled it and found out that the Royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom includes the Scottish unicorn. You can read more here.

The Canadian passport

Now we finally come closer to the Canadian passport!

I started telling everyone that I would love to have the Scottish or British passport because of the unicorn. Then a Canadian friend mentioned that his passport also has a unicorn on its cover because of Canada’s connection to the British Empire (I spare you the details).

I started to wonder how many more passports show a unicorn on the front and how the hell I could have missed this until now!? But the Canadian passport has something the other unicorn-bearing passports do not have:

There was a redesign of the Canadian passport in 2013 and they added what I call the awesome LSD party effect. On each double page there is a print of a typical Canadian scenery – not that crazy by itself, you could even call it a bit boring. BUT when you look at the pages under black light (a light you should definitely have at home if you own such a passport) the drawings turn into a colorful party picture.


Canadian passport under normal light (Source: http://imgur.com/gallery/3u8xP)


Canadian passport under black light (Source: http://imgur.com/gallery/3u8xP)

Each page is different and just great. Check it out here.

So, that’s why I would love to have the Canadian passport: There is a unicorn on the outside and an awesome party on the inside!

Further readings/links

A passport is a (very!) powerful document. My first one was the passport of the GDR and I know what the freedom of visiting other countries means and how valuable it is. If you want to know more about the power of passports and where you can or can’t travel with them have a look here.

If you are interested in well designed passports you should check out this design concept for the Norwegian passport. It also contains a nice black light effect.

Another passport with a cool effect is the Finnish one. If you flip through the pages you see a galloping moose(!):



1. Thanks to Claire for taking a picture of her British passport.

2. Thanks to Michel for taking a picture of his Canadian passport. The added drawing was done by me.

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2 Discussion to this post

  1. Lindsey says:

    Hi Jenny, I came to your page from iheartberlin – I love your Berlin street name illustrations! This article caught my eye since I’m Canadian. Have you ever seen the Canadian passport under a blacklight in real life? It’s super fun! I’m moving to Berlin in April so give me a holler if you’d like to check it out sometime! 🙂 Thanks for your cool illustrations & posts.

    • jenny says:

      Hi Lindsey,
      thanks for your charming comment!
      Moving to Berlin sounds like a great idea – it is an awesome city and you will probably love it.
      And no, I have not seen the Canadian passport under blacklight so far and I would love to check it out!
      Feel free to mail me ([email protected]),

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