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The Danish Passport

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Most people probably think more of their passports as a formal document from the state than a complex piece of design, yet it truly is both. Above all, its job is to identify a person in a valid and reliable form, and consequently, it needs to be produced as a document with a minimum of risk of being copied.

In 1997, Peter Bysted was chosen as designer of the new Danish passport. His prior experience as designer of watermarks for Silkeborg Papirfabrik was instrumental in the process. New printing techniques combined with an extremely detailed pattern in the finest stroke made the new passport very secure.

In the former passport from the early 1980s, the Danish legend hero Holger Danske was used as watermark, but Peter Bysted proposed a change. He suggested that the first symbol of the Danish Nation as a state, the Jelling Stone, be the new and visible illustration. The Justice Department supported the use of the Jelling Stone by pointing out that it is a typical Danish symbol, it is on UNESCO's list of World Heritage and finally it is difficult to remake and fabricate.

The motif was used both as illustration on the inside of the cover and as the base of the design for the security pattern on the visa pages.

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Using the picture of Christ from the Jelling Stone gave rise to a debate on national symbols.