As a Sacramento Immigration Attorney I am blessed in that I get the opportunity to regularly meet people from all parts of the World. I always enjoy hearing about where they are from and how things are done in their home country. I also like to hear what they like (mostly) and dislike about the United States. I find it very educational and very fun.
I also see many passports while working with clients. I have noticed that I see a lot of red passports and a lot of green ones. Of course the modern U.S. passport is blue. I have wondered why our passport is blue while the passports of other countries are likely to be red or green. Well, after reading an interesting article on the subject (“What your passport color really means”) I no longer need to wonder.
What are the Major Colors of Passports and What do they mean?
According to the article:
“Most passports in the world are based on blue and red primary colors,” said Passport Index Vice President of Marketing Hrant Boghossian, though there’s an enormous degree of variation in hues. And while geography, politics, and even religion come into play when a country selects its passport cover, there are no guidelines or regulations dictating the color of these national documents.
“There’s nothing [that] stipulates the cover colour,” confirmed Anthony Philbin of the International Civil Aviation Organization, which issues passport standards on cover size, format, and technology.
So what can we infer about passport color? Boghossian says it’s a matter of national identity.
In other words, the nations themselves pick the colors of their passports based on how they as a nation perceive themselves and their place in the World.
There are four major colors of passports. They are red (or burgundy), green , blue, and black (or dark colors).
“Burgundy passports are used by members of the European Union (sans Croatia), and countries interested in joining (think: Turkey) have changed their passport colors to match. The Economist called this a “branding exercise.” The Andean Community (also known for past EU-ambitions) of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru also has burgundy passports. The Swiss passport, in effortless and famously Swiss-fashion, matches their flag,”
Blue is a color used in the New World.
“Most Islamic states use green passports because of the importance of the colour in their religion,” Boghossian shared with Business Insider. Variations of green are also used by members of ECOWAS—Economic Community of West African States—including Niger and Senegal.”
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.
What about the United States?
“The United States’ passport, however, only became navy blue in 1976—to match the shade found in the American Flag. Before that?
“We believe the first travel documents in the U.S. were red,” Boghossian told Travel + Leisure. Green passports were used in the 1930s, followed by burgundy ones, [and] black passports in the 1970s.”
Anything Else We Should Know?
Spoiler alert: “The U.S. passport is about to get a makeover: and while the design has yet to be released, we know for a fact the country has a history of changing its passport cover. Who knew? Now you do. Use this information strategically to impress your friends when you see them tomorrow night.