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The Old Blue Passport

896 of 1160 nominations


The Old Blue Passport

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The Old Blue Passport

Since 1995, anyone issued with a British passport is the proud owner of a flexible, burgundy-coloured, machine-readable document. Prior to this, you would have been presented with a hardcover, 32-page "Old Blue". The holder's details were painstakingly handwritten – not even typed, mind, let alone digitised.

The earliest passports, known as Safe Conducts, were introduced during the 15th century. In 1914, the British Nationality and Status Aliens Act was passed and, a year later, the first modern UK passport was issued. It was a folded one-page document, valid for two years. It was only in 1968 that the first 10-year UK passports were issued. These were soon joined by a 94-page passport for use by frequent travellers.

The UK Passport Service is now planning to implement biometric passports, enabling fingerprint, iris and face recognition of the holder. An electronic scanner will then inform officials that your eyes are blue, a detail that would once have been written out for them in best civil service handwriting.

Photo: Ted davis


Your comments

It was a symbol that was immediately recognised throughout the world. One would not flash it about but felt proud if required to produce it. Its very solidity and iconography gave a feeling of security; that the bearer would be treated with respect; but if not, that a powerful presence would be nearby to come to the bearer’s aid, should that be required. Redolent of history, when British values held some sway in the world. In wherever foreign field one alighted it was like carrying a piece of Britain, and a doorway to home.

Phil Westwood

One day, hopefully in the not too distant future, we will return to our proper blue passports. This idiocy which we call the 'European Community' will not last....no treaty ever does! Then perhaps we can flood the Channel Tunnel too, and take to the seas again. Rule Britannia!
Johnathan Oswin

The old British passport looks black to me. Does anyone agree?
W G tack

View All Comments (7)



I nominate the red pillar box.

Donna Spencer