A couple applied for new UK passports on the same day—only one says “European Union”

Brexiteer Nigel Farage awaits the return of navy blue UK passports.
Brexiteer Nigel Farage awaits the return of navy blue UK passports.
Image: Reuters/ Neil Hall
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Any pomp and circumstance around Britain leaving the European Union has been thoroughly muddled by the confusion as to when, and even if, it will happen. A perfect visual representation of the Brexit mess has recently manifest in the country’s passport version of roulette: Some UK passports are now being printed without the words “European Union”… but others aren’t.

Several Brits who received a new passport this week were shocked to discover that they are no longer stamped with “European Union” at the top.

But it appears that this transition is not consistent. One British couple, Peter and Jan Brady, both applied for their new passports on March 21, according to the BBC, but whereas Peter’s passport does not say “European Union,” his wife’s does. It takes a while for a passport change to come into full effect: The Home Office told the BBC that some people would receive the old version until stocks run out. “You will not be able to choose whether you get a passport that includes the words European Union, or a passport that does not,” it said in a statement.

The latest EU-free passports were scheduled to be released beginning March 30, the day after the UK was due to leave the EU. But with Britain delaying its exit, those passports now look a little premature.

According to official plans, once the UK does finally leave the bloc, no new British passports will read “European Union.” And, starting at the end of the year, they’ll be issued in the same navy blue color used before the country joined the EU, rather than the current burgundy. The last few burgundy British passports will be released in early 2020, according to the Home Office, before every last one will be blue.

But that, of course, is only if Britain still leaves the EU.