CIA Spies (Operatives) often travel with fake passports

Robert Morton
3 min readDec 2, 2021


In 1981 a CIA operative escaped Iran using a fake German passport- he was detained because it used the middle initial “H”, and German passports didn’t use initials. He said it stood for “Hitler” and he had special permission to use an initial. The Iranian authorities bought his ruse and let him pass through. Today, the CIA is still laughing over this incident.

CIA operatives often travel with fake passports. They may use them to enter or leave a country which would not tolerate a foreign intelligence operative’s presence. Of course, fake passports are used by unsavory characters for identity theft, age fabrication, illegal immigration, and organized crime pursuits.

Think twice about obtaining a fake U.S. passport, for the U.S.A. considers it a federal crime. Those who use bogus passports often do it to assist in other crimes such as illegal immigration, contraband smuggling, economic crime, or terrorism.

In the MISSION OF VENGEANCE spy thriller, Corey Pearson depends heavily on good-quality fabricated passports, thanks to the disguise artists at the CIA. Each fake passport mimics the detailed composition of a genuine one perfectly. A unique passport number is inserted in the top right-hand corner of the picture page of the passport. Some display the number on the front page instead, and CIA artists account for these individual country differences. They learned their lesson from the German passport mistake in 1981!

For example, Nigerian and Australian passports have one letter followed by seven numerical digits. Each fake passport carried by CIA operatives contain high security watermarks inserted into each of the visa pages… a three-dimensional watermark of William Shakespeare, and a bright, two-dimensional watermark of a writer’s scroll, a quill, and the corresponding page number.

Here’s a few short snippets from the MISSION OF VENGEANCE spy thriller which reveal the valuableness of fake passports.

Snippet 1: “I will be living in fear of reprisal. Putin hunts down defectors, but I know the U.S. hides them well. Boris Markov contacted Vladimir Putin about Suvorov’s defection and the GRU has begun a global manhunt for him.”

“They won’t find him. We supplied him with a foreign passport, driver’s license, social security card, a lump sum of two million dollars and a totally new identity. If he walked into this room right now, you would never recognize him. The CIA’s makeup artists perform incredible work. We will do the same for you, but it depends on what you tell us.”

Snippet 2: Corey slid a packet across the table. “Here’s your new identity. An infant died in the U.S. around the same time you were born. You’re assuming his identity. I won’t go into the details of how the CIA did it, but there’s a forged birth certificate, social security card, passport and driver’s license inside the wallet with matching credit cards and a checking account with a $5,000 balance.”

Bocharov opened the packet and inspected the fake documents. He held up the passport. “This is forged well. I don’t think the GRU could do such a fine job.”

“The CIA uses elaborate techniques to make them.”

End of snippets

Lastly, here is an informative video named Spotting a Fake Passport that is used by the CIA to train operatives how to identify a forged passport.

Robert Morton is a member of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO), enjoys writing about the U.S. Intelligence Community, and relishes traveling to the Florida Keys and Key West, the Bahamas and Caribbean. He combines both passions in his Corey Pearson- CIA Spymaster series. Check out his latest spy thriller: MISSION OF VENGEANCE.



Robert Morton

Spy thriller author, member of Association of Former Intelligence Officers, thrilling experiences await on my Author Site: