UK's current burgundy passport-- to be replaced with blue after Brexit in 2019

The UK will be issuing a new, blue passport for people renewing or applying starting Oct. 2019 after Brexit.

Previously burgundy, the new color symbolizes the country’s divorce from the European Union. The UK will restore the color to blue (as it was before they joined).

According to BBC, Tonia Antoniazzi, Labour MP, called the change a “huge waste” of money; Simon Thomas, Plaid Cymru AM, called it “nostalgic dross.”

Why Change?

“The UK passport is an expression of our independence and sovereignty, symbolising our citizenship of a proud, great nation,” British Prime Minister Theresa May said. “That’s why we have announced that the iconic #bluepassport will return after we leave the European Union.”

The new passport will also integrate new security features that make forgery more difficult, according to Al Jazeera.

Others disagree about the motive, implying there is a deeper purpose and that changing the color is more strategic than symbolic.

Sir Simon Wall, former British diplomat, suggested that the change targeted a despondent demographic group down after Britain’s recent concessions:

“It’s aimed at the Brexit generation. Anyone under the age of 50 will hardly remember any other passport than we have now. It seems from her recent performance that Theresa May has belatedly grasped the fact that we need to make some pretty dramatic compromises and she needs a bit of smoke as well– this is part of that.”


In some aspects, the color really is insignificant.

Britain’s expression of independence could result in travel delays as new passports could send UK citizens to the back of the line.

“Sources in Brussels pointed out that holders of any colour of British passport could see diminished travel rights after Brexit unless there were further negotiating concessions,” according to The Guardian. There is “a significant risk that British passport holders would lose the right to use a fast-track citizens lane when travelling on the continent and may also be obliged to use a new visa waiver scheme.”

The impact of the new passport on travel between and within the EU has nothing to do with the color, but the symbolic nature of the change makes it a target in criticism.

The Guardian reports that Britain may keep the fast-track privileges “if there is further shift in the prime minister’s red lines on immigration,” but that is unlikely. The lane is reserved for citizens or people with free movement rights,” said Steve Peers, a professor of law at Essex University.

Britain could make an awfully yellow, glittering passport, and they would still have options when it comes to travel negotiations.

Passport History

The UK’s passport has been burgundy since 1988. They changed the color to match most of the other nations in the European Union.

“Under a system first agreed by Margaret Thatcher’s government in 1981, Britain is not legally obliged to use the same burgundy design as most other members but agreed to do so in a joint resolution of member states in the European council,” The Guardian reported.

It’s all politics. Still, color change is bigger than aesthetics. It represents union. While part of the EU, that union was with the other nations. After Brexit, the new color represents national autonomy and an attempt to rally internal union with nationalism.

EU council members signed the resolution to use the same color to “strengthen the feeling among nationals of the member states that they belong to the same community” but created the opt-out clause allowing members to choose different colors, according to The Guardian.

Britain did not opt out, but as part of the EU, they stood to benefit from a stronger community.

After Brexit, Britain will regain its blue passport in 2019.