Do you Know the Reason Behind Different Passport Colors?

Passports are an important document for every traveler. But these are more than small booklets to record your adventures.

How many colors of passports are there?

According to Hrant Boghossian, Vice President of the Passport Index, there are only four colors of all passports: red, blue, green and black. The only difference is in shade.

Why do passports have different colors?

There is no fixed rule for passport colors. But some geographical and cultural factors — including religion — influence the basic hue on your passport.

1. Red Passports

Members of the European Union typically opt for red passports. Boghossian suggests that the burgundy tone is due to communist history.

Red Passport - Norway

The Economist proposes that it is a ‘branding exercise’. That is entirely likely, too, because Turkey has changed its passport color to red. The Andean Community (Bolivia, Croatia, Ecuador, Peru, and Chile) had similar aspirations for EU membership, and therefore have red passports.


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Within the EU itself, Croatia is the only country without a burgundy passport. The Swiss passport matches the red Swiss flag.

2. Blue Passports

Other than the Andean countries, South American states typically have blue passports.

Blue Passport - Ireland

The color is supposed to be an indicator of the “new world”. Venezuela, however, retains red from the time of its EU membership time-period.

3. Green Passports

Green passports are used by Islamic countries. The color is used because of the belief that this color has historically represented Islam.

Green Passport - Pakistan

“Most Islamic states use green passports because of the importance of the color in their religion.”

It is used in Pakistan, Morocco and Saudi Arabia. Most West African states such as Nigeria and Burkina Faso also have green passports.


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4. Black Passports

These tend to look more official, and show less dirt. Black passports belong to countries such as Zambia, Republic of Botswana and New Zealand. For the latter, it is the country’s national color — and reasons are uncertain for the rest.

Black passport

But despite these geographical classifications, passport colors are not rigid. The United States has changed its colors four times — red at first, green in 1930s, black in 1970s and blue after 1976. Boghossian reports that the U.S. has once again announced a passport make-over. It just cannot seem to decide.


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A New Era

In other countries, passports are now being creatively designed.

We are entering an exciting age of countries starting to include special features to differentiate their passports.

Canada, China, the UK and the United States have “hidden images” for UV lights. Canada has switched to a color change of white and Norway offers designs on passport covers. Best of all is Finland, with a passport that serves as a flipbook of a walking moose. Very Scandinavian indeed!

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