Every passport in the world is said to feature a varying shade of either red, green, black or blue…
LONDON — Have you ever wondered why your passport is red, while others are the colours that they are? Okay, probably not. Nevertheless, there is much more to it than you might think.
According to Hrant Boghossian, the vice-president of Arton Group, which runs the interactive passport database Passport Index, the shade of each national passport is derived from just four main colours: Red, green, blue or black. Although, “within each colour hue, we see vast variations”, he told Business Insider.
There are, in fact, many passport colours. While the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) dictates the rules governing how passports must appear (including their size and format), individual governments around the world can choose the colour and design of their national document and, Boghossian said, there are “many possible scenarios” that explain why each country selects a certain colour.
Some countries choose a certain colour to distinguish itself and reflect their unique identity, such as Switzerland, whose passport is bright red. Singapore’s bears a bright reddish cover, while Canada’s temporary passport book for travellers in need of emergency travel documents has a white cover. The United States passport jacket has seen several changes in colour, from red to green and now, to blue.
The passport books for countries within the European Union (EU) tend to be burgundy, while countries from Caricom (Caribbean Community and Common Market) use blue, possibly for geographical or political reasons.
“Some could argue that the burgundy red is due to a past communist history,” said Boghossian, and that blue passports may be symbolic of the New World for countries in North America, South America and Oceania. “The passport of Turkey has changed to burgundy as it hopes to join the EU,” he also claimed.
For others, the chosen passport colour may be religiously significant, such as in Muslim countries including Morocco, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, where their passports are different shades of green. “Most Islamic states use green passports because of the importance of the colour in their religion,” Boghossian said.
Green is believed to have been a favourite colour of the Prophet Muhammad, is “a symbol of nature and life”, and is seen on several of the national flags of Islamic countries such as Afghanistan and Iran.
The choice of colour for a country’s passport, though potentially influenced by culture and history, also comes down to practicality and availability.
“Passport production is a highly controlled process and only few companies around the world are doing it,” Boghossian said.
The cardstock used for passport covers is “usually supplied by a third party” and “only comes in certain colour variations to meet the required standards”, he added.
While the colour of passport books may be limited to shades of red, green, blue and black, its design is said to be “entering an exciting age” with several countries incorporating special features into their passports.
Some, including those used by citizens of Canada, Britain, the US and China, feature “hidden” artwork on their pages that appear under UV light. Norway’s sleek new passports, designed by Neue Design Studio, are offered in either white, turquoise or red, and its pages feature minimalist interpretations of the country’s most striking landscapes and scenery, including the Northern Lights phenomenon which appears when placed under UV light. In 2012, Finland introduced a feature in its passport, where images in the bottom of its pages turn into a running moose when travellers flip through their passport. THE DAILY TELEGRAPH