Travel Tips

Your Passport Color Has a Political, Symbolic, Traditional or Religious Connotation

Have you wondered why your passport is colored its particular color? As a traveler, have you ever stood in the check-in line and noticed the myriad of different colored passports held by your fellow passengers? The specific color choice and aesthetical dimensions of your passport were designed for very specific reasons a very long time ago. The International Civil Aviation Organization is the organization which decides the size, dimensions and design format for how a passport should look. The color of your passport, however, is decided by sovereign matters connected to geography, international politics, patriotism, religion or governmental authority status. Or a mix of everything in between. There are some passport color meanings or choice origins that can only be guessed at or theorized. Modern passports are usually available in five main colors; blue, green, red, burgundy and black. Each passport color has a specific reason or meaning for the color. This is not a firm rule of thumb, however, as some countries may have just chosen a particular color because they liked it or for reasons unknown.

Blue Passports

Countries in the Caribbean are believed to issue blue passports because of the symbolism connected to these collections of island countries thriving in blue oceans. However, this is a more of a theory than anything else. The United States passport color was changed to blue in 1976 and only became officially blue in 1994. In 1993, a series of green American passports were issued as a patriotic anniversary strategy. That is because throughout the years 1941 to 1976 the passport was actually green in color. From 1926 to 1941, the American passport was red in color. From the Civil War era to 1926, the American passport was a diploma-type document complete with a red wax government logo impression.

Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Venezuela all issue blue-colored passports to show their solidarity with the South American free-trade customs union called Mercosur. Some passport colors are blue because they are blue, no matter the history or cultural policies of the country. The country may have just chosen the color. The Ukrainian passport is blue. Iceland, a member of the Nordic Passport Union, has a blue colored passport. This color choice is in stark contrast with the passport color designation for most member countries within the Nordic Passport Union which is red.

Green Passports

The official color of Islam is green. In accordance, the color of passports connected to Muslim-predominant is also green. Passports for countries like Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, among others, are green. Member nations of the Economic Communities of the West African States, which is a mandate of economic and cultural trade agreements among a coalition of West African countries, issue green passports to celebrate said coalition. The passport color for Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Ivory Coast, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo are all green.

Red Passports

The best guess among experts is that red-colored passports may be a throwback to countries that were formerly communist or communist-controlled. Passports for China, the Republic of Georgia, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Serbia, and Slovenia are red in color. Most member countries of the Nordic Passport Union all have red colored passports. These include Denmark, Finland Norway, Sweden and all affiliated territories. Iceland, also a member of the Nordic Passport Union, has a blue passport.

Burgundy Passports

All countries within the European Union are burgundy colored. It has been theorized that countries aspiring to eventually join the E.U., like Albania and Macedonia, correspondingly changed the color of their passports to burgundy. The Iranian passport is burgundy colored.

Black Passports

Black is the national color of New Zealand and a probable reason for its black colored passports. The passport color of numerous African nations is black. Such countries include, but is not limited to, Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia. Black colored American passports are issued to diplomats and officials of authority with diplomatic immunity. Bearers of black colored American passports can stroll through airport security without being questioned, touched or searched in any manner whatsoever. (OK, maybe not, “stroll,” but you get the meaning.) The color of a passport alone can tell the story of a nation. Something to consider the next time you are in the check-in line at the airport and notice the colors of passports different from your own.

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