Historically, legal authority to issue passports is founded on the exercise of each country's executive discretion (or Crown prerogative). Certain legal tenets follow, namely:
first, passports are issued in the name of the state;
second, no person has a legal right to be issued a passport;
third, each country's government, in exercising its executive discretion, has complete and unfettered discretion to refuse to issue or to revoke a passport;and
fourth, that the latter discretion is not subject to judicial review. However, legal scholars including A.J. Arkelian have argued that evolutions in both the constitutional law of democratic countries and the international law applicable to all countries now render those historical tenets both obsolete and unlawful.
Under some circumstances some countries allow people to hold more than one passport document. This may apply, for example, to people who travel a lot on business, and may need to have, say, a passport to travel on while another is awaiting a visa for another country.
The UK for example may issue a second passport if the applicant can show a need and supporting documentation, such as a letter from an employer.