What Your Passport Color Stands For An Exploration of the Meanings Behind Passport Colors

As a frequent traveler, have you ever stopped to think about what your passport color stands for? With so many different passport colors around the world, it’s natural to wonder if there is any significance behind them. In this article, we will delve into the meanings behind passport colors and how they are determined. We will also explore the history and cultural influences that have shaped the colors of passports in various countries.

What Does Red on Passport Stand For?

The Most Common Passport Color: Red

The first thing that comes to mind when we think of passports is the color red. This is the most widely-used color for passport covers around the world, with over 35 countries using some shade of red for their passports. Some examples include Russia, China, and Singapore.

The Symbolic Meaning of Red

Red is often associated with power, strength, and passion. It is a bold and attention-grabbing color, which could explain why it is a popular choice for passports. In addition, red is also commonly used in flags and national symbols, further emphasizing its significance as a national color.

What Your Passport Color Stands For An Exploration of the Meanings Behind Passport Colors

The Historical Significance of Red Passports

The use of red for passports has a long history dating back to the 19th century. In the early days of travel, before the invention of modern travel documents, red was used to indicate diplomatic status and provide safe passage for diplomats. As passports became more widespread, red continued to be used as a symbol of importance and privilege.

The European Union’s Use of Burgundy Red

While many countries opt for a brighter shade of red, members of the European Union (except for Croatia) use a darker hue known as burgundy. This can be traced back to the European Community’s decision in 1981 to standardize passport colors across member states. The color was chosen to represent unity and harmony among the countries of the EU.

Interesting Fact: India’s Blue Passport

While red is the most common passport color, India stands out with its blue passports. This change was made in 1988 to signify the country’s cultural and political alignment with other members of the Commonwealth. The Indian passport also features the national emblem of India, the Lion Capital of Ashoka, on its cover.

What Your Passport Color Stands For An Exploration of the Meanings Behind Passport Colors

What Does Green on Passport Stand For?

The Second Most Common Passport Color: Green

Green is another popular color for passports, with over 20 countries using it for their travel documents. Some examples include Morocco, Nigeria, and Pakistan.

The Symbolic Meaning of Green

Green is often associated with nature, growth, and balance. It is also considered a symbol of hope and prosperity. Many of the countries that use green as their passport color are located in Africa and the Middle East, where green has cultural significance.

Islamic Countries and Green Passports

Green is considered a sacred color in Islam, representing paradise and the Prophet Muhammad. Therefore, many Islamic countries have chosen green for their passports. This includes Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Afghanistan.

The Use of Multiple Shades of Green in Nigerian Passports

Nigeria’s passport stands out with its vibrant green cover, featuring multiple shades of green. This choice reflects the country’s abundant natural resources, including forests, vegetation, and agriculture.

Interesting Fact: Pirates and Green Passports

In the early 1900s, British passports were green in color. However, this changed in 1921 when a group of pirates from the Soviet Union used fake British passports to board a ship and commit a crime. As a result, the UK switched to the iconic red passports to make them more difficult to counterfeit.

What Does Blue on Passport Stand For?

A Popular Choice for Developed Countries: Blue

Blue is a common choice for passports in developed countries, with over 30 countries using it. Some examples include the United States, Australia, and Japan.

The Symbolic Meaning of Blue

Blue is often associated with stability, trust, and peace. It is also considered a universal color, making it a popular choice for passports. Many countries that use blue for their passports have strong economies and stable political systems.

Interesting Fact: Sweden’s Change to Blue Passports

In 2001, Sweden changed the color of its passports from green to blue, aligning with other EU member states at the time. This change sparked outrage among Swedish citizens, who saw the green passport as a symbol of their country’s neutrality and independence.

Darker Shades of Blue in South American Passports

Many countries in South America, such as Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay, have opted for darker shades of blue for their passports. This is likely due to the influence of the Mercosur trade agreement, which requires member countries to have a common design and color for their passports.

What Your Passport Color Stands For An Exploration of the Meanings Behind Passport Colors

What Does Black on Passport Stand For?

The Rarest Passport Color: Black

Black is the least common color for passports, with only a few countries using it. These include New Zealand, Zambia, and Botswana.

The Symbolic Meaning of Black

Black is often associated with power, elegance, and authority. It is also a neutral color, making it a unique choice for a passport cover. However, the use of black can also be seen as controversial, as some may view it as a lack of creativity or a reflection of a country’s political climate.

Interesting Fact: Iceland’s Black Passport Cover

Iceland made headlines in 2020 when they unveiled their new black passports, replacing the traditional blue covers. The change was made to reflect the country’s volcanic landscape and its national soccer team’s iconic black jerseys. However, critics argued that the color was too dark and made it difficult to read the passport details.


In conclusion, there is no straightforward answer as to why countries choose certain colors for their passports. It is a combination of historical significance, cultural influence, and political preferences. Each color carries its own symbolism, which is reflected in the design of the passport cover. What is certain is that passports play a crucial role in international travel and are an important representation of a country’s identity. So next time you hold your passport, take a moment to appreciate the meaning behind its color and the rich history it represents.


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