Trivia Thursday: Why are there different colored passports?

Each Thursday, Anywhere Anytime Journeys will bring you some fun trivia about travel and tourism. This week, our topic is passport colors.

Why do passports have different colors and what does that signify?

Countries have the liberty to choose the colors of their passports. However, there is a general trend that is observed when it comes to countries and passport colors, as you may infer from the world map below.

The general trend that is visible is that Islamic states tend to prefer green, Communist or former Communist countries prefer red, European nations prefer burgundy and the rest have mostly gone with shades of blue.

The following is a breakdown of the colors as presented by Melanie Lieberman’s Travel+Leisure article “What Your Passport Color Really Means

Red Passports

Burgundy passports are used by members of the European Union (sans Croatia). Countries interested in joining (Turkey) the EU have changed their passport colors to match. The Economist called this a “branding exercise.” The Andean Community (Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru) also has burgundy passports. The Swiss passport, in effortless and famously Swiss-fashion, matches their flag.

Blue Passports

Caribbean, or Caricom states, typically use blue, most likely to coincide with the blue waters found in that region. Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay all boast blue passports. Venezuela still sports a red passport from its time in the Andean Community.

The United States’ passport, however, only became navy blue in 1976 — to match the shade found in the American Flag. Before that, the first travel documents in the U.S. were red. Green passports were used in the 1930’s, followed by burgundy ones, and black passports were issued in the 1970’s.”

Green Passports

Most Islamic states use green passports because of the importance of the color in their religion. Variations of green are also used by members of ECOWAS — Economic Community of West African States — including Niger and Senegal.

Black Passports

Dark colors (even deep shades of blue and red) show less dirt and tend to look more official. Examples include the Republic of Botswana, Zambia, and New Zealand — though for the latter, black is also considered one of the country’s national colors.

Some countries even have different colors to signify the traveler’s status. For example, the USA uses at least two other colors:  Reddish-brown for an official passport, issued to government employees who travel on business, and black for someone with diplomatic immunity.

For more details about the passport colors, visit the Passport Index. Oh! And don’t forget to make sure your own passport is sill valid.

Happy travels!

“Passport design world map” by Twofortnights – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons – File:Passport design world map.png


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