Why do passport colors vary from country to country?

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On December 21, 2021, Korea’s passport got a makeover! Those who got issued a new passport just in time for a New Year’s trip received a blue passport from the country of Korea, instead of the green one that we’re all so used to. Don’t you want to know why the passports got a color transformation? 

We’re not only going to explore this recent change for Korean passports, but also get some answers regarding why passports from different countries are all different colors. The 12th edition of Aviation Fun Facts from Incheon Airport: Why do passport colors vary from country to country? We’ll fill you in on the process and criteria for choosing the color for a country’s passport! -👉🏻

The reason for each country getting a different colored passport?

The United Kingdom originally issued blue passports. When it joined the EU however, the color of their passports changed to red to symbolize the EU. After BREXIT (Britain’s withdrawal from the EU), the country returned to issuing blue passports again. As you can see, the color of the passport can change depending on events, values, and the identity of a country. 😲

In Korea, passports used to be green, a color said to help ward off theft and crime. Perhaps it’s because it’s a very ordinary, low-profile color. With the use of polycarbonate (PC) material to enhance passport security since 2018, passport design changes have also been promoted. After the announcement of the design proposal, the current passport was fixed after reflecting the results of online preference surveys and policy polls. We’ll further explore some reasons why countries, including Korea, changed their passport colors.

Blue passports, red passports: Colors used to represent a country’s ideology.

There are four main colors used for passports 🗺 around the world. The first and second most common colors are blue and red. Blue and red symbolize liberalism and socialism, respectively. Perhaps that’s why blue passports are often used in neoliberal countries such as the Caribbean and Latin American countries. Another representative blue-passport-country is the United States, which changed its color to a blue passport in 1976. Blue symbolizes a new world.

On the other hand, many former socialist countries use red passports. In addition to China, countries like Russia, Poland, Romania, and Serbia use red passports. It is said that national ideology was classified by passport color in the past. This seems to still play a role today. 😲

But this doesn’t apply in every situation. For example, North Korea, which is one of the representative countries of socialism, also issues a blue passport. So just take this all with a grain of salt. It’s just something interesting to know that will provide very little usefulness in life! 😎

These days, the color of a passport is more representative of the country’s alliance and that alliance’s color rather than its national ideology. Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay, which are all under the Mercosur Customs Treaty, use blue passports. And as mentioned earlier, many countries in the European Union issue red passports, such as France, Germany, and Belgium. It can be interesting to find connections and relationships amongst countries that have the same color passports. 🧐

Green passports: Representing nature and life

After blue and red, the third most common passport color is green, which was the color of Korea’s old passport. This color is mainly used by countries of Islamic culture 👳🏻 such as Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan. It was the favorite color of Muhammad, the prophet of Islamic religion. He even used a green flag when going out to war! It is a color known to be greatly influenced by religion and culture.

Earlier, we mentioned that a country’s affiliation could affect the color of its passport. West African countries such as Ghana, Namibia, and Nigeria, which are members of the Economic Community of West Africa (ECOWAS), also use green passports. Green often symbolizes nature, a color that suits African countries very well 🌲.

Black passports: Representing a region’s cultural characteristics

The last passport color we’ll be talking about is black! It is mainly used in African ☀ countries such as Kenya, Congo, Malawi, and Angola. It’s a color that has a strong sense of charisma. Other than African nations, New Zealand is the only other country that issues a black passport. In fact, black is said to be New Zealand’s color with its rugby team even being called “All Black 🏈.” As you can see, unique characteristics of a country can be revealed through a simple passport!

The color of passports by country may vary depending on differences based on religion, culture, and geographical characteristics. Can you believe that so many factors play into a country’s passport color? 😆 Why not take a moment on your trip to deduce why certain countries issue the color passport that they do?!

The 12th edition of Aviation Fun Facts, “Why do passport colors vary from country to country?” It was an interesting topic despite there being no clear set standard. Bring it up to your friends or family members on your next trip!

In the meantime, we’ll be back on the Incheon Airport blog with more interesting and enlightening stories, so check back in soon! ✈

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