A Staff Report from the Straight Dope Science Advisory Board

How come some U.S. passports are different colors?

June 26, 2000

Dear Straight Dope:

I was in the immigration line for US citizens at JFK, coming back from London, and I noticed that while most people had blue passports like me, some had green or even crimson ones. What's up? Are these people Communists? Are they dangerous?

Easy as pie. There are currently four colors for United States passports:

Black: used for diplomatic passports. These are issued to civilian and military personnel and their families on diplomatic assignments overseas for the government.

Maroon (red): used for official passports. These are issued to civilian and military personnel and their families if on official government business overseas which is not classified as diplomatic.

Green: issue stock prepared in commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the State Department. It also has a cool biography of Benjamin Franklin in the back. It's the same as the blue.

Blue: Issued as either fee or no-fee. Fee passports are issued to those of us who are not accompanying our military sponsor on overseas orders. No-fee passports are those issued to family members of military personnel stationed overseas in a country that doesn't require the military member to present a passport. If the country does require that, then both the military member and family member must have a maroon passport.

I personally would want a black passport. I bet those guys ALWAYS get an extra package of peanuts.

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