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See the world’s most beautiful passport

No, you can’t travel right now, but you can still enjoy these gorgeous Norwegian passports and dream about future trips.

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You probably don’t give your passport much thought these days, as global travel has all but ground to a halt because of COVID-19. But a new passport design out of Norway might inspire you to start dreaming of your next vacation.

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Norwegian design agency Neue won a contest to redesign the country’s passports back in 2014, and they’re now available for Norwegians to carry.

[Photo: Catharina Caprino/Neue Design Studio]
Passport design has some particular constraints, because the final product must be nearly impossible to replicate. Most passports are a variation on the same theme: a color pulled from a country’s flag, typically dark red, green, or blue; the national seal; and the country’s name. Interior pages might have additional security features within the paper itself, like microtext you can see only at an angle or holograms, which make it harder to replicate. Design can make a passport more secure. It just doesn’t always make it pretty.

That’s not the case with this Norwegian passport, however. The booklet comes in pastel red, blue, and white; it uses a round sans serif typeface; and it features Norway’s crest in gold on the cover. The passports are color-coded, as explained by Neue creative director Lars Håvard and senior designer Benjamin Stenmarck: the red passport is the national passport, adjusted from the red color of a previous national passport. The turquoise booklet is only for diplomats, government, and the royal family. The white passport is an emergency passport and has a shorter lifespan than normal passports. (The color makes practical sense here then, as white covers have a shorter lifespan and will fade relatively quickly.)

The interior pages pay homage to important historical landmarks, places of recreation, and natural resources across the national landscape with monochromatic blue and green lines. The main directive of the redesign was to make the passports more secure, and the Neue team tackles this with a surprise (and extra layer of security): Put the passport under a UV light, and parts of the illustration, say, tree-covered hillsides, reveal themselves. It’s like spotting the northern lights but for security purposes. Try duplicating that.

It’s unlikely anyone is dusting off their passport anytime soon. But this example of functional design is one you just might want to pull out anyway.

About the author

Lilly Smith is an associate editor of Co.Design. She was previously the editor of Design Observer, and a contributing writer to AIGA Eye on Design.

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