There are strict rules which dictate how passports must appear, including their size and format. These rules are issued by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Governments all around the world can choose the colour and design of their national document and there are reasons why they choose to go with a certain colour. So why are passports either red, green, black or blue?
Most Islamic states use green passports because of the importance of the colour in their religion. Green is believed to have been a favourite colour of the Prophet Muhammad and is a symbol of nature and life. There are also several green national flags of Islamic countries such as Afghanistan and Iran.
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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 orange/reddish cover, while Canada’s temporary passport book for travellers’ in need of emergency travel documents has a white cover.
Norway has introduced a sleek new passport which is offered in either white, turquoise or red. The passport pages feature minimalist interpretations of the country’s most striking landscapes and scenery, including the otherwise elusive Northern Lights phenomenon which appears when placed under UV light.
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.
A selected few Britons are believed to hold a unique Queen’s Messenger passport in Britain, which are said to be issued only to individuals relaying important messages or information to British consulates and embassies around the world.
The US passport has seen several changes in colour, from red and green and now to blue.
The passport for countries within the European Union (EU) tends to be burgundy, which colour is inoffensive but indistinct burgundy. Passports from the Caribbean Community and Common Market use blue, which could be for geographical or political reasons.
Some have argued that the burgundy red is due to a past communist history and that a blue passport 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.
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