People Are Confused Over Sale of Passport Cover That Resembles a S’porean Passport

The Singapore passport has consistently held a spot among the world’s top three most powerful passports, granting Singaporeans access to 193 visa-free destinations.

In 2023, Singapore ranked in first place as the world’s most powerful passport, dethroning the five-year reigning champion, Japan, according to the Henley Passport Index 2023.

The concept of passport privilege has been gaining traction among many folks recently, especially in conversations with international friends who don’t hold Singaporean passports.

However, for non-citizens looking to bridge the gap, there’s a solution: a Taobao shop offering knockoff passport covers that can give your passport the look of being Singaporean.

As the saying goes, “If you can’t beat them, join them”.

Taobao Shop Sells Knockoff Singapore Passport Covers

On Tuesday (5 December 2023), a Reddit user named “twistycatlyman” made a discovery, garnering attention and discussions across the platform. 

The discovery in question was a set of screenshots showcasing a product listing on e-marketplace Taobao

This listing featured a leather passport cover meticulously designed to mimic the appearance of a Singaporean passport, complete with intricate gold embossed lettering and the official state crest.

Priced at 138 yuan (approximately S$26), the passport cover is available in different colours, including classic watermelon red, black, purple, and darker red.

Image: Taobao

At first glance, the crimson red cover can convince people that you hold an authentic Singaporean passport.

However, upon closer look, subtle differences become more obvious.

The font on the knockoff passport cover sold on Taobao is completely different from that of the real one. Additionally, the coat of arms on the cover is less detailed, and ‘Majulah Singapura’ is written in a different font.

The product listing on Taobao describes it as a “Singapore passport protective cover made from genuine leather, designed as a passport bag and travel document wallet for both men and women”.

Interestingly, this store appears to be the only one on Taobao offering such items, with no similar listings from other stores.

Knockoff Passport Covers for Malaysia, Japan, Thailand & USA

Besides selling knockoff passport covers for Singapore, this Taobao store also offers diverse options, including covers resembling Malaysian, Japanese, and American passports, among others.

The shop also sells passport covers from countries such as China, Thailand, Australia, Italy, and Canada.

It’s important to remember that these covers likely won’t fool any customs officers. 

These covers bear noticeable discrepancies that anyone with a keen eye would readily discern.

Might Not Be Legal

According to the National Heritage Board, the State Crest of Singapore is a symbol of the country’s independence and self-governance.

It features a red shield with a white crescent moon, five white stars, a lion on the left representing Singapore, and a tiger on the right symbolising its historical ties with Malaysia.

Using the State Crest for ads or business purposes is against the law, as stated in the National Symbols Act 2022 and Regulations.

Mixed Reactions from Netizens

In just two days since the Reddit thread emerged, it has received over 800 upvotes and generated 160 comments.

The top comment on the thread made a straightforward point: buying these passport covers seems pointless because people usually have to take them off when going through manual immigration checks. 

Image: Reddit

According to the comment, even at automated gates, using these knockoff covers serves no real purpose.

Some folks humorously suggested that non-citizens could invest a bit more instead of buying a Singapore passport cover and get themselves a “pink IC” (Identity Card) instead.

Image: Reddit

Many online users pointed out that these imitation passport covers are common in tourist souvenir sections and are not limited to Taobao alone.

One user found the concept of knockoff passport covers being sold online rather amusing and even expressed their willingness to get one just for fun.

Image: Reddit

A user shared their travel experience with a Singaporean passport in the United Kingdom (UK). 

Image: Reddit

Holding a Singaporean passport led to being directed to the queue for European and UK citizens, offering yet another example of the privileges associated with certain passports.