The New British Passport after Brexit. What it will likely look like

On 23rd June 2016, Britain voted to split from the European Union. Various factors influenced people’s decisions at the ballot box: for some, it was the economy or autonomy, but for others, it was a vote of no confidence in the Government’s ability to manage migration. Following the Brexit decision, a lot of questions have been asked by people. One of such question is “what will our new Passport look like?”


The European Union – frequently referred to as the EU – is an economic and political alliance involving 28 European nations. It began after World War Two to promote economic co-operation, with the belief that countries which trade mutually are more likely to shun warring with each other.

It has since evolved to become a “single market” enabling goods and people to move about, basically as if the member countries were one country. It has its currency, which is referred to as the euro, which is used by 19 of the member countries, its parliament and it now sets rules in a wide range of sectors – including on the environment, transport, consumer rights and even things such as mobile phone charges in the telecommunication sector.


Brexit is an acronym for “British exit,” referring to the UK’s resolution in a June 23, 2016, poll to exit the European Union (EU). It is a word that has become used as a shorthand way of saying the UK leaving the EU – merging the words Britain and exit to get Brexit

Why is Britain leaving the European Union?

A referendum – a vote in which everyone (or nearly everyone) of voting age can take part – was held on Thursday 23 June 2016, to decide whether the UK should leave or remain in the European Union. Leave won by 51.9% to 48.1%. The election turnout was 71.8%, with more than 30 million people voting.


An international passport is an authorized document containing personal data and a photo as well that enables people to go to foreign nations. It is the medium by which individuals prove their identity. International passports are recognizable identity documents that are issued by the government of nations or their governing authority to the citizens of such country. The reason for a worldwide travel permit is to affirm the identity and citizenship of an individual and to encourage the movement of people between various countries. Most nations require an official identification before a traveler may cross its border, the passport serves this purpose.

Previously, an international passport was essentially a letter given to an honoured traveler. The letter usually asked for foreign nations to extend its security and consideration to the holder of the document. Since then, travel papers have changed from straightforward letters to more recognised means of identification.

Contemporary passports are customarily in the pattern of a small booklet, with the name and seal of the issuing nation printed on the cover. The International Civil Aviation Organization has endeavored to regulate the format of world passports, and most countries around the world use the same document design. The inside pages of an international passport typically include a photograph of the holder, in addition to a name and birth date.


British passports are identification documents issued by the United Kingdom to individuals with any form of British nationality. There are various types of British nationality and diverse types of British passports as a result. A British passport allows the bearer to move worldwide and serves as evidence of citizenship.

It also expedites access to consular aid from British embassies around the globe, or if also a subject of the European Union, any embassy of other European Union member states. In the UK, Passports are issued using royal prerogative, which is exercised by Her Majesty’s Government.

A brief history of the British passport

In Britain, the earliest existing reference to a “safe conduct” paper shows up amid the rule of Henry V, in the act of Parliament recorded in 1414. Around then, documents like these could be issued by the King to anybody, regardless of whether they were English or not. Foreign nationals even got theirs for free, while English subjects needed to pay. Apparently, the reigning monarch did not – and still does not – require a sheltered direct record.

From 1540, the issuing of travelling papers became the responsibility of the Privy Council. By this time, the term “passport” was in use, although whether it came to be from the idea of people moving through maritime ports or by the gates in city walls (“portes” in French) continues to be a matter for debate. A passport from this era issued out on June 18, 1641, and signed by King Charles I, still exists to this day. From the year 1794, the office of the secretary of state took over the issuing of passports, a responsibility that the Home Office retains to this day. There are records of every British passport issued from this time, although they continued to be granted to foreign nationals and were written in French until 1858 when the passport first gained its role as a British identity document. Nonetheless, passports were not commonly needed for international travel until the first world war.

It was in the early 20th century that passports, as we would recognize them today, began to be used. The first contemporary British passport, the product of the British Nationality and Status Aliens Act 1914, featured a single page, folded into eight and held together with a cardboard lid. It was valid for two years and, as well as a photograph and signature, contained a personal description, including details like “shape of the face,” “complexion” and “characteristics.” A typical one might sound something like: “Forehead: broad. Nose: large. Eyes: small.”

Remarkably, some travelers claimed to find this dehumanizing. Following an agreement among the League of Nations to standardize passports, the famous “old blue” passport was first issued in 1920. Apart from a few adjustments to its term and security features, the old blue persisted as a steady symbol of the travelling Briton.

In the old passport, details were written by hand into the 32-page document comprising the passport number, holder’s name, spouse and children details as well as owner’s national standing.

A single passport could be used for an entire family if they all travelled at the same time. The bearer’s sex was not particularly stated; however, the name was written in with a title, e.g. Mr. John Smith.

The passport was valid for five years and renewable for another five, after which it had to be re-issued.

According to Hrant Boghossian, who is the vice president of Arton Group, the organization which runs the passport database Passport Index, the shade of each national passport is obtained from four primary colours: red, green, blue or black. Boghossian further told news reporters in an interview that blue passports are symbolic for New World nations while burgundy red may be due to a “past communist history.”

The choice of colour, while influenced by culture and history, can also come down to suitability and availability. Passports of nations from all around the world have different colours and different meanings. Countries pick the colour of their passport for all various reasons, and many of them are dependent on their flags.

Governments can determine the colour and design they’d like their national travel document to have. However, they usually vary within the primary schemes of colour mentioned earlier. For example, most Islamic countries issue green passports because green is an important colour in the religion, but that isn’t religion specific since many West African states also have green passports.

Only ten countries have black passports including New Zealand and Trinidad and Tobago. All European Union member country passports are burgundy, except that of Croatia, which has a dark blue jacket with the Croatian crest on it. Countries like Turkey, who intend to join the European Union, have replaced their passports to match so as to satisfy the EU member nations requirement.

Other countries with burgundy passports include Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru.

In all, Blue is the most famous colour for passports, followed by the red colours – which in some instances implies a history of communism. Since the UK decided to leave the European Union, there has been a lot of discussion about the possibility of the colour of the passport been changed.


In September 1988, the first UK passports in the European Community (EC) common format were issued by the Glasgow Passport Office, and the tools to do likewise was provided for other offices by the spring of 1991

The passport is burgundy coloured and machine-readable. It has 32 pages. Those assigned to British citizens (including Channel Islanders and Manxmen), British nationals with the right of abode in the UK and BDTCs by the relationship with Gibraltar carries the words “European Union” (or “European Community,” for those issued before December 1997) on the jacket. Passports issued to other British subjects are similar but do not have “European Community” or European Union”‘ on the front.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd has been petitioned severally to bring back the navy passports.

However, Home Office minister Robert Goodwill has said: “There are no immediate plans for modifications to the design or colour of the UK passport.”

It should, however, be noted that the current British passport was introduced just seven months before the Brexit vote.


Оwіng to the mаnу dіffеrеnt саtеgоrіеs in Вrіtіsh nаtіоnаlіtу law, there are dіffеrеnt tуреs оf раssроrts fоr еасh сlаss оf Вrіtіsh nаtіоnаlіtу. Аll саtеgоrіеs оf Вrіtіsh раssроrts аrе іssuеd bу Неr Мајеstу’s Gоvеrnmеnt undеr rоуаl рrеrоgаtіvе. Ѕіnсе аll Вrіtіsh раssроrts аrе іssuеd іn thе nаmе оf thе Сrоwn, thе rеіgnіng mоnаrсh dоеs nоt rеquіrе а раssроrt.

Оwіng tо thе mаnу dіffеrеnt саtеgоrіеs іn Вrіtіsh nаtіоnаlіtу lаw, thеrе аrе dіffеrеnt tуреs оf раssроrts fоr еасh сlаss оf Вrіtіsh nаtіоnаlіtу. Аll саtеgоrіеs оf Вrіtіsh раssроrts аrе іssuеd bу Неr Мајеstу’s Gоvеrnmеnt undеr rоуаl рrеrоgаtіvе. Ѕіnсе аll Вrіtіsh раssроrts аrе іssuеd іn thе nаmе оf thе Сrоwn, thе rеіgnіng mоnаrсh dоеs nоt rеquіrе а раssроrt.


British citizen passports are issued by HM Passport Office in the UK. British citizens applying for passports from outside the country can do so online from HMPO. British passports were formerly issued by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in British embassies around the world. However, in 2009, this was discontinued, and British citizen papers are now only issued by the Passport Office in the UK. This measure came to be so as to increase security and reduce expenditure.”


The British subject passports are issued in the UK by HMPO. British subjects and British Overseas Territory citizens of Gibraltar can apply for their passport in Gibraltar, where it will be given out by the Gibraltar Civil Status and Registration Office.

British Overseas Territory citizens of Gibraltar and British subjects with the right of abode are deemed to be UK citizens for the purpose of EU law. Hence, they are considered to be EU citizens, allowing them to move freely within the European Economic Area and Switzerland.


In Jersey, Isle of Man and Guernsey British passports are issued in the name of the Lieutenant-Governor of the individual Crown Dependencies for the States of Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man. While, In British Overseas Territories, British Overseas Territories Citizen passports are granted in the name of the corresponding territory’s governor.


Diplomatic passports are granted in the UK by HMPO. They are given to British diplomats and high-ranking government officials to aid and expedite their travels abroad on official duties. That is, official passports are granted to individuals travelling abroad on official state business. Queen’s Messenger passports are issued to diplomatic dispatchers who transport important documents on behalf of Her Majesty’s Government.

Finally, emergency passports are issued by British embassies across the globe. Emergency passports may be issued to any individual holding British nationality. People of Commonwealth nationality are also qualified to be granted British emergency passports in countries where their country of origin is unrepresented. British emergency passports may also be given to EU nationals in countries where their own country does not possess a diplomatic mission or is otherwise unable render their assistance to their citizens.



Yes. The British passport is a British paper – there is no such thing as an EU passport, so, the passport will remain the same. Theoretically, the government could decide to change the colour, which is currently standardised for EU countries.

Since the memorable referendum results in June 2016, patriotic MPs have been asking for the rebirth of the dark blue passport as a representation of the UK regaining autonomy from the EU. They want to discard the burgundy passports, which have previously been a source of national embarrassment after Britain was forced to adopt the same design by the EU back in 1988.

To the Briton, it’s a case of identity. They believe that having the burgundy European passports merged them into one European identity, which isn’t what they are.

The old dark blue design is a distinct, precise and obvious statement of what it implies to be British, which is just is needed by the citizens as they travel overseas after Brexit. As they get their sovereignty back, the people of Britain are looking forward to getting the British passport back.

The timing of any likely changes to the passport after the UK has left the EU has not been set. Also, the Home Office has yet to confirm whether changes will take place, despite issuing a £490m contract for the design, production, and personalisation of the UK passport.

It is believed that the contract was issued because UK passport is routinely redesigned every five years to guard against counterfeiting. Hence, the home office is starting the procurement process now to ensure there is ample time to design UK passports from 2019 when the current contract

which has already delivered 30 million passports expires.

In a recent meeting with La Rue’s (the firm the new passport design was contracted to) representatives to discuss the redesign, Tory MP Michael Fabricant said the lion and unicorn crest in gold will look better on navy blue than it currently does on the maroon passports.

Given that there’s going to be a re-design to have the words European Union removed anyway, the Treasury won’t incur additional expense to change the colour back to the traditional dark navy blue.


As Article 50 takes effect and Brexit officially launches, British architecture and design magazine Dezeen pondered what might happen to Brits’ travel papers after the nation leaves the E.U. Along these lines, the group put out a call for new passport designs, receiving over 200 entries from around the globe exploring what could happen to the current burgundy document. Below are some of the final submissions.

Design 1 by Ian Macfarlane

The British designer blended the base of the country’s old burgundy passport with a navy gradient, symbolizing the new beginning of post-Brexit life.

Design 2 by Hannah Perry

The designer concentrated less on the U.K. and more on travel as a whole. The interior is filled with travel-inspired quotes from the likes of Robert Louis Stevenson and Charles Darwin.

Design 3 by Silje Bergum

The U.K.’s weather inspired the Norwegian design student.

The visa pages showcase minimalist interpretations of rain, fog, sleet, and intermittent sunshine.

Design 4 by Eric Wong & Elliot Jefferies

The pair were inspired by suitcases when creating their alternative passport, including an interpretation of a luggage tag designed in gold on the front.

Inside, the passport’s semi-transparent pages appear like x-rays of a traveler’s bag and its contents.


The task of determining a solution to the travel documents for citizens of the United Kingdom after Brexit is taxing the best minds in the country at the moment. As the European Council (Art. 50) guidelines for Brexit negotiations rightly underline, “The United Kingdom’s resolution to leave the Union evidence significant uncertainties that have the potential to cause disruption.”





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