Documents in Papers, Please, contain information that identifies and verifies an entrant's ability to enter Arstotzka, allowing the inspector to grant them an entry stamp. The checking and handling of documents occurs on every day and forms the core gameplay of the game.
Documents must be crosschecked to ensure the information on each one of them is consistent and valid, or if an apparent discrepancy is discovered that evidence is found that either proves that the discrepancy does not exist, that the document with the discrepancy is erroneous due to matching fingerprints which override the erroneous information, or the discrepancy is corrected. As the game progresses, gradually more documents are added according to immigration protocol, each containing more features or fields of information. This increases the complexity of checking between them for discrepancies. Near the end of the game, two of the documents are consolidated into one, making the process of checking them simpler.
There are three main classification groups of document:
- Proof of visa waiver
- Proof of visa
- Security/Medical verification
During the early game, each entrant will have no more than 3 documents - passport and foreign visa documentation or ID card, and possibly a work pass, for example).
It is only until very late in the game that Vaccination Certificates and the complex Access Permit are required. The theoretical maximum of 5 occurs on day 26 as the following combination: passport + entry permit + identity supplement + work pass + certificate of vaccination.
All items (13)