The long-awaited blue Brexit passports are finally on their way with the Prime Minister photographed holding one in a new picture.
The image, which was released by No 10 today, shows Boris Johnson posing with the travel document on a flight to Newcastle Airport on January 31 – the day the UK left the EU.
The design is in fact a return to the original passport colour first used back in 1921, although Brits are not getting the blue version until stocks of the EU-style burgundy one are used up.
For a standard ten-year passport, it means they will be stuck with red until 2030.
The first wave of blue passports will start being sent out by the end of March, but there is no guarantee which colour will be issued.
A Home Office spokesman said: “There will be a mixture of blue and burgundy passports issued over a period of months, and we expect all new passports to be blue by the middle of the year.
“As well as using up the existing stock of burgundy passports, the printing presses all need to be tweaked to make blue covers, which needs to be done in stages, otherwise the printing process would grind to a halt.”
The blue passports changed colour once the UK joined the EU and the burgundy shade was agreed upon and adopted soon after.
The new passport is due to have up-to-date security features and technologies to protect against fraud and forgery – but the pages will be plastic instead of paper, making it more difficult to alter.
Those who prefer the burgundy shade will not lose out – these passports will continue to be issued but without reference to the EU.
They are due to be phased in over 2020 and if you renew your passport in the next few months you could receive it in either colour.
All passports issued from mid-2020 onwards will definitely be blue, the Home Office confirmed.
During the 11-month-long "transition period" that the UK must go through now it has left the EU, travel will remain the same at least until December 2020.
Starting from January 1 2021, you may need to renew your British passport earlier.
On the day of travel, your passport must have at least six months left and be less than 10 years old (even if it has six months or more left).
If you do not renew it you may not be able to travel to most EU countries as well as Iceland Norway and Switzerland.
These rules do not apply to travel to Ireland, where you can continue to use your passport providing it is valid for the duration of your stay.
The new passports will reportedly be made by the Dutch firm Gemalto, with some describing the manufacture of the documents abroad as a "national humiliation".
Gemalto landed the £490million contract to produce the UK's post-Brexit identity documents from next year, The Sun previously reported.
The company, listed on the Paris and Amsterdam stock exchanges with headquarters in Amsterdam, was battling for the lucrative passport deal with British firm De La Rue and an unnamed outfit.
According to The Sun, Gemalto were declared winners after a ‘blind tender’ process.
That means ministers were not allowed to know who had submitted the individual bids.
Home Secretary Priti Patel previously said: "This should be a moment that we should be celebrating – the return of our iconic blue passport will re-establish the British identity.
“It is a national humiliation.
“I would urge Amber Rudd and the Government to look again at the powers they have to see what they can do.”
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