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United Kingdom : British Visitor's Passport (1976) Series II

BRITISH VISITOR'S PASSPORT

Introduction

A new simplified type, the British Visitor's Passport, was introduced in 1961. It was a single-page cardboard document valid for one year obtainable for many years from Employment Exchanges, as agents of the Passport Office, and then from a Post Office. It was accepted for travel by most West European countries (excluding surface travel to West Berlin), but was dropped in 1995 since it did not identify the holder's nationality or meet new security standards.

As the card evolves, note how the status of it subtly changes. The first one is issued by the Foreign Office; this becomes the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on the second but by the third it is simply 'Her Britannic Majesty's Government'. Also, the the first two can only be used by a 'British Subject, citizen of the UK and Colonies' whereas by the time that the third BVP was issued, the British Nationality Act 1981 had come into force, redefining British nationality and the passport became available to a broader spectrum of British nationals. This did not please the French who found it difficult to accept brown or black skinned holders of such documents.

Note also that the first BVP was issued by the Ministry of Labour local offices. The contract was transferred to the Post Office for the last two. The BVP was eventually phased out because the government were trying to float the Passport Office as a public agency but could find nobody suitably qualified who wanted to run it. The candidates pointed out that passport applicants, instead of paying £5.50 for a full British passport from them, could pop down to the Post Office and get a BVP for £1.50. Once the BVP had been withdrawn, quickly followed by the family passport, then every applicant had to hold an individual passport, guaranteeing a substantial rise in applications.

Variety

The first British Visitors Passport (BVP) had grey pages on the inside and beige outside.

The second version of the BVP, the inside changed to white

Third and last version had a white inside with small flecks of coloured thread distributed across it. These glow under ultra violet light.

Cease Issue

It appears that the conditions, under which the British visitors' passport is accepted by certain Member States as a valid travel document for stays of less than three months, derive not from Community law but from bilateral agreements between the United Kingdom and those Member States.

At present, France and the United Kingdom have mutually agreed to discontinue, as from 1 January 1995, their bilateral agreement of 14 February 1961 on the basis of which the British visitors' passport was accepted as a valid travel document.