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If, like me, you write a crime fiction series (or you happen to be on the run), it’s only a matter of time before you run into the delicate problem of where to get fabricated documentation. We’re talking false passports here: fake passports, forged visas, dodgy driving licences and other fabricated ID.

I’ll go through six or seven of the main sources, starting today with getting your false documentation from your own employers.

A collage of passports and other fake documents

It’s a bit of a cop-out all the same though, isn’t it? There you are, an international spy or ruthless assassin, and now you’re a civil servant too – on at least the Higher Executive Officer grade, with a nice helpful PA called Sally or Nigel back at the office to sort out all your paperwork bits and bobs and raid the stationery cupboard on your behalf for a box of staples, some Post-Its and a fake passport or two. As if.

Take the likes of The Bourne Identity. All you need to do to get your false passports is to (spoiler alert) survive a shooting and near drowning, recuperate in a fever on a tiny fishing boat, discover a device that they’ve embedded in your backside which gives the numbers for a safe deposit box in a Zürich bank – a box in which are guns, money, piles and piles of passports for dozens of identities and presumably the TL693 expense docket that everyone is supposed to fill in and submit to Accounts before Friday, via, um, Miss Moneypenny.

Those scenes with Matt Damon in the bank are all very well and good but, like I said, generally speaking the characters in my books aren’t state-sponsored secret agents with a (very nicely printed all the same) licence to kill.

They don’t have Zürich bank accounts and a large army of back-up civil servants.

Nor are they members of an underground resistance movement or an international crime syndicate.

They are usually just ordinary individuals – who are unlikely to have such knowledge, resources or contacts. In terms of issues like getting false documentation they are very much on their own. They aren’t James Bond or Jason Bourne. That’s the whole point. And that’s the drama of the thing.

(To be continued)

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