New passport designed to reflect “Creative United Kingdom”

Creative pioneers celebrated across the pages of the new UK passport, which has been designed to incorporate new security features to help prevent forgery.

John Harrison, clockmaker who's marine timekeeper H1 helped solve longitude timekeeping at sea
John Harrison, clockmaker who’s marine timekeeper H1 helped solve longitude timekeeping at sea

The Home Office has unveiled a new passport design which celebrates figures who represent a “Creative United Kingdom” and the work they have produced.

Architect and designer Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, artists Antony Gormley and Anish Kapoor and playwrite William Shakespeare are among the many creatives represented over the passport’s 34 pages.

DeLaRue has worked on graphic design

The Passport Office has worked with banknote and passport specialist DeLaRue on the graphic design of the pages.

Head of product design at the Passport Office Michael Borg says: “We will think which images work best from a security point of view and then work with DeLaRue to build those images together and then find ways to incorporate security measures.”

Creative figures chosen by Passport Office

The creative figures and their work were chosen by the Passport Office, which has come under some criticism for only selecting two women.

Passport office director general Mark Thompson says: “We feel like we have a good representation of icons. It is not just about celebrating UK creativity, it’s about making the most secure book that I can produce.”

A new passport is launched every five years in the interests of security to prevent counterfeiting.

New security measures

The new design features more intricate watermarks and images printed in inks, which react to UV and infrared light to reveal detailed patterns. A red, white and blue thread used to bind the passport also glows under UV light.

William Shakespeare appears on every page as a watermark and the personal details page contains a Gipsy Moth IV boat watermark.

The passport also has a new structure with a single sheet of paper for personal details and a page at the back adjoined to the back cover. A holographic laminate covers the personal details page.

Many of the security features will remain secret but some you can see, like perforated passport numbering at the bottom of each page, which become smaller as you flick through the passport.

First “passport” from 1378

Home office minister for immigration James Brokenshire says: “The new passport is the latest step in an evolutionary process that began before Shakespeare’s time when a roll of parchment was issued as the first passport in 1378; the design has certainly come a long way.”

Every five years the passport takes on a new theme and Brockenshire says: “Each iteration focuses on a different aspect of the people, history or environment of the people of the UK.”

The new passport will be rolled out in a phased approach beginning in December 2015.

John Constable, landscape painter
John Constable, landscape painter
The Penny Black stamp, a Victorian Post Box and the Perkins D Cylinder press, which printed the Penny Black
The Penny Black stamp, a Victorian Post Box and the Perkins D Cylinder press, which printed the Penny Black
Stephenson's Rocket, (locamotive) designed by George and Robert Stephenson, SS Great Britain (steam ship) designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel
Stephenson’s Rocket, (locamotive) designed by George and Robert Stephenson, SS Great Britain (steam ship) designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel
Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, Liverpool Cathedral, Battersea Power Station and K2 telephone box
Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, Liverpool Cathedral, Battersea Power Station and K2 telephone box
The London Underground: Waterloo Underground Station; mosaic of Underground roundel at Maida Vale; Harry Beck-designed Tube Map; a set of signals and a modern Tube train.
The London Underground: Waterloo Underground Station; mosaic of Underground roundel at Maida Vale; Harry Beck-designed Tube Map; a set of signals and a modern Tube train.
Elisabeth Scott, the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, the Bournemouth Pier Theatre and a map of Bournmouth
Elisabeth Scott, the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, the Bournemouth Pier Theatre and a map of Bournmouth
Anthony Gormley, Quantum Cloud, map of Gateshead and Angel of the North and Another Place
Anthony Gormley, Quantum Cloud, map of Gateshead and Angel of the North and Another Place
Anish Kapoor's works Marsyas, Temenos and Orbit
Anish Kapoor’s works Marsyas, Temenos and Orbit
Shakespeare's Globe, it's interior, a play in progress, a map of the city of London, the theatre's exterior
Shakespeare’s Globe, it’s interior, a play in progress, a map of the city of London, the theatre’s exterior
Festival Culture around the UK
Festival Culture around the UK
Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace, Babbage's Analytical Engine, Lovelace's code, a URL, modern computers and a map of Bletchley
Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace, Babbage’s Analytical Engine, Lovelace’s code, a URL, modern computers and a map of Bletchley
Brilliant Buildings: the Houses of parliament, The London Eye, The Pierhead, The Falkirk Wheel, Titanic Belfast
Brilliant Buildings: the Houses of parliament, The London Eye, The Pierhead, The Falkirk Wheel, Titanic Belfast
Invisible copy under UV light
Invisible copy under UV light

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  • Jessica Jenkins November 4, 2015 at 10:10 am

    The creative figures and their work were chosen by the Passport Office, which has come under some criticism for only selecting two women.

    Passport office director general Mark Thompson says: “We feel like we have a good representation of icons. It is not just about celebrating UK creativity, it’s about making the most secure book that I can produce.”

    Do female figures offer less security?

  • Toni Batey November 4, 2015 at 10:48 am

    Hideous, kitsch design by committee, and there are only two creative women of note in 500 years of British Creative history, apparently. Badly thought out design on every level.
    Why on earth didn’t they hand the design over to a selection of contemporary artists to design a spread each, it would have captured the brief of a ‘Creative United Kingdom’ far more accurately. Can you imagine a spread designed by Grayson Perry or Bridget Riley say? It would have looked amazing. Or why didn’t they take a look at Norway’s new passport for a bit of inspiration? http://www.theguardian.com/travel/2014/nov/17/norway-new-passport-design

    • Hannah Wardle November 16, 2015 at 9:54 am

      That’s a great idea – I’d love to see pages designed by the like of Perry etc.

  • Jessica Jenkins November 4, 2015 at 2:13 pm

    Yes, if ever there was an counter example of “British creativity”:, this is it. Cf Norway’s new banknotes.

  • John Ballyn November 8, 2015 at 8:46 pm

    1 South Asian woman, no African/Caribbeans, no Barbara Hepworth, Grace Darling, Florence Nightingale, Emmeline Pankhurst, Sophia Duleep Singh. No Alan Turing, Too much Shakespeare, just for starters. And yes, Norway has it going for elegant design in public graphics.

  • Colin Moore November 9, 2015 at 11:19 am

    No representation of the other three countries in the the union

  • Jessica Jenkins November 11, 2015 at 10:30 am

    Who is the South Asian woman? Exotica?

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