The decision to leave, which was often made at the beckoning of relatives or friends already abroad, found a further rationale in the so-called “emigrant guides”, often published by those countries which aimed at attracting labour from all over Europe. These guides showed images of earthly paradises: boundless plains with lush vegetation, clean houses, and orderly city districts. Shamelessly misleading advertising of this kind was unscrupulously displayed by travel agencies and by agents of shipping companies in order to convince the undecided to leave. Agents were sometimes, in practice, emissaries of foreign companies or governments. For example, in the last decades of the 19th century Brazil increased immigration from Europe by offering a free journey from the port of departure to the final destination in the fazendas, in which every family of emigrants would be assigned their own lot of arable land.
The emigration procedure involved application for, and subsequent grant of, a passport. For a long time, starting in the early twentieth century, the passport of emigrants had a red cover. In the case of a man with a family, his wife, children, parents and grandparents could also be included on the passport. For those registered for national service, an additional authorization from the military authorities was also required.