What different passport colors mean

What do the Different Passport Colors Mean?

If you’ve ever stood in the customs line, you may have noticed an array of different passport colors. There are only 4 base passport colors, but each of the four have varying shades that fall under each principal hue. If you’ve been wondering why there are different passport colors, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll break down passport colors, what they might mean, and where they might come from.

Why are Passports Different Colors?

There are several factors that may determine why a country chooses a particular passport color including religious geographical, historical or cultural concerns. Some countries are attempting to fit in with nations or political affiliations they would like to join while others are choosing colors and paper based on availability of supplies. There are a limited number of companies producing passports and passport materials so colors, paper types and printing options are subject to availability. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) regulates requisite size and format for every passport, but governments are able to choose the overall design and color for their passports as long as they are derived from one of the four base colors: green, black, blue or red.


The Passport Colors and What Their Color May Mean –

Black Passports – Whileblack passports are a rarity,  some African countries have them as do some countries that consider the color black important in their culture. New Zealand’s passport is black since it’s the country’s national color. In the United States, a black passport signifies a U.S. diplomat. Added perks of a black passport are they look professional and don’t show as much wear.  


Red Passports – The most common passport color, red,  not only has religious implications, but also may point at countries with a history in communism or political climate. Nordic countries generally hold red colored passports signifying their viking culture and corresponding with the color of many of their national flags. The European Union utilizes burgundy as their passport color, whileTurkey and Macedonia changed their color to the same burgundy due to their aspirations to join the EU.

Why are passport colors different

The European Union nations utilize burgundy for their passport color. Some nations hoping to join the EU have adopted this color as a show of partnership



Blue Passports – The second most common passport color is blue. Traditionally, the color blue is meant to represent “The New World” nations in North and South America and Oceania.  The U.S. passport has been blue since 1976, when it was changed from green to celebrate the bicentennial. The color blue was chosen to represent the blue in the American flag, however the U.S. has issued all four of the different passport colors throughout its history. Some South American nations utilize the same blue passport color which symbolizes their connection with the Mercosur trade union.


Green Passports – Green symbolizes a heavy religious background or culture for most countries with that passport color. For example, most Muslim countries use green as it is associated with Islam: green is said to have been the favorite color of the Prophet Muhammad. Green is also on the national flags of many Islamic states, as well as many African nations like Nigeria, Burkina Faso, and Senegal. Most African nations with green passports are members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and green is associated with that organization.
Owing to cultural, religious and political diversity world wide, the reasons why passports are different colors often have important and deep meanings to each government. Some nations consider passport colors a type of branding, a color that identifies them all over the globe. If you’re a U.S. citizen looking to acquire a passport, whether it’s due to Real ID Act compliance or you’re just interested in some fun international travel, make sure you have everything you need to start your application process!


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