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Radley Stories

Style Notes

British Passport Covers: What Makes A Popular Leather Passport Cover

12 June 2023

What is a passport cover? We define it and tell you everything there is to know about them in our Radley London guide. 

What Is A Passport Cover?

Firstly, what are we talking about? We don’t just mean the gold-foiled, decorative paper Great Britain passport cover that comes as part of any UK passport. When we talk about these covers, we mean the colourful, patterned, fun, personalised and individual ones that hold your passport. Like a type of travel wallet. It opens like a book and features an interior slip pocket to tuck your passport inside. 

There are many reasons why you may want to cover your passport. It could be to personalise it and make it easy to find in your travel bag. Or it could be a way to keep all your travel documents together, as many covers have interior pockets for storing tickets. A cover could also be chosen for protection - whether it’s to stop the passport from getting dirty or to keep it safe and secure.

Unlike your actual passport, a cover won’t be made from paper. Most are crafted in leather, but some may be faux leather, plastic or even fabric. Many will come with a charming pattern too, like a floral print, an animal print, logos, or even personalised initials. 

Whatever cover you choose, for whatever reason, a passport cover is a great travel accessory. And why shouldn’t your passport look as good as your designer suitcase?

How To Make A Leather Passport Cover

If you can’t find quite the right passport cover (or maybe you’re super crafty), you can always make your own. You’ll need an outline of a passport, as if it’s been placed flat and open against a surface. You may also need a separate outline of the interiors, complete with an extra slip pocket that will hold your passport in place. Use these patterns to cut the right shape out of a swatch of the leather or fabric. Sew along the directed lines and voila.

The Best Things About Passport Covers

You mean apart from the fact they come in so many colours and patterns? Even as a subtle, small extra travel accessory, passport covers have so many pros. They’re protective, luxurious, handy, practical and individual. 

Their biggest advantage is that they’re protective. Earlier, we mentioned that gold foil emblem on the front of a British passport cover. You can rest assured that this cover detail will stay in tip-top condition if it’s protected by a cover - no matter how many trips you go on. In fact, you won’t have to worry about any tears, strains, scratches or damage. Even if you spill a little from the glass of bubbly you enjoy in the airport lounge. Or if any of your travel cosmetics leak in your travel bag.

Another pro? A cover will make your most important travel document instantly recognisable. Helpful if you’re holding onto passports for the whole family. Equally as handy if you’re digging through a large handbag searching for yours. Any bright colour or pattern will make it stand out among all your other travel essentials. 

Let’s talk about organisation. First and foremost, these covers are made to hold passports. But the most popular styles also have a couple of extra slots and pockets. These are perfect for tickets, travel cards, currency and itineraries. Even directions to your hotel. So there’s no need to juggle a large purse, travelcard holder and passport. A cover can help you stay organised throughout your entire journey, so there’s never any stress or any moment of not being able to find something essential.

We also mentioned that covers can be luxurious and individual. This all depends on the material and the decoration. (If you ask us, the best passport covers are made with leather and have a little Scottie dog on. But maybe we’re biased.) Being luxurious means they can make wonderful gifts. And there are so many styles to choose from. 

Some covers even come with internal technology to protect your digital information. This is called RFID blocking. This is Radio Frequency Identification. These RFID chips transmit information wirelessly, like in credit and debit cards when you make contactless purchases. E-passports also have these RFID chips, which hold all the same information as displayed inside your passport. RFID blockers are popular as it’s another assurance that your identity is being protected. If you carry travel cards inside your passport cover, the RFID blocking will also protect against any electronic pickpocketing that is targeted towards your cards.

How To Choose The Best Passport Cover

Choosing one will come down to three things: the material, the colour or pattern and the function.


We’d suggest leather. All of our Radley London leathers are durable, high quality and hold colour beautifully. Or perhaps sustainable materials, like a recycled polyester (ours is made from plastic bottles and you’ll see it throughout our Radley Responsible range). These materials are able to be wiped clean - making them popular for accessories that are held and handled often. Other materials include fabrics like cotton and denim, or polyester. These might be cheaper, but can be more difficult to clean and less protective.


Were you after a block colour or a busy print? As mentioned, your travel accessories come in all shades of the rainbow and a wide range of patterns too. You name it: animal print, floral print, logo prints or anything else.


Do you need a straightforward style that only holds your passport, or would you like to be able to store a couple of travel cards and your plane ticket too? This will impact what the interior of your cover looks like. Before purchasing one, make sure you have considered all the options and have a look inside so you know your choice has all the pockets and functionality that you want. Our Radley London passport covers always come with some additional card slots because we know how helpful they can be.


Fun Facts About Passports

  • The first passport is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible, The Book of Nehemiah, when an official asks for a letter of permission to travel through Judea.

  • King Henry V issued the first official passport to his subjects to prove their identity when they travelled outside of the UK. 

  • In 2021, the most powerful passport was the Japanese passport, based on the number of countries Japanese citizens can enter with a visa or a visa-on-entry. However, in 2023, the Henley Passport Index revealed that Singapore had surpassed Japan with the most powerful passport. 

  • Norway’s passport has a hidden secret. Under ultraviolet light, its landscape page transforms to show the Northern Lights at night. 

  • Passports are mandatory for everyone when travelling, but the one exception is the reigning monarch of the United Kingdom. They’re the one and only member of the Royal Family and UK population that is allowed to travel abroad without a Great Britain passport cover.

  • Some countries have begun offering passports to citizens of other countries (such as America), in exchange for an investment in their real estate or a donation to a particular fund. This then boosts their population and also helps their economy. 

  • Passports come in four colours (red, green, blue and black). Red is thought to have been the most common colour, but now a greater number of countries have a blue passport (including the British passport cover, as of 2020).


It’s true that we know a lot about travel accessories and that includes the most fashionable suitcases too. We also have handy Radley London guides about different types of handbags, such as the best backpacks - the perfect bag choice for travelling. Head to Radley Stories to read more.