The British Visitors Passport – The Simplicity Of A Travel Document

 British Visitors Passport

The British Visitor’s Passport (BVP), was a simplified version of the standard passport, introduced in March 1961 and made available to any British citizen, British Dependent Territories Citizen, or British Overseas citizen resident in the United Kingdom for over 8 years. It was in the form of a 3-fold card and could be obtained from any post office on the sight of the applicant’s birth certificate or other specified documents of identity. It was intended solely for a holiday or similar private visits not exceeding 3 months in duration to specified European countries. It was valid for one year only. Due to many concerns arising in connection with the easy availability and security of this document, the BVP was withdrawn with effect from 1 January 1996.  British Visitors Passport

 British Visitors PassportThe British Visitor's Passport HistoryVersion from 1963

The Independent reported in June 1994: The Simplicity Of A Travel Document – The British Visitor’s Passport
“The one-year British Visitor’s Passport – used by more than 2 million holidaymakers a year – is to be abolished”. The review, at least partially prompted by threats from Spain to stop recognizing the BVP from 1995, sought the opinion of experts in the travel trade about the future of the one-year passport which gains entry to most west European countries for a three-month period. Two-fifths of its holders travel to Spain. Millions of holidaymakers pick up the passport from post offices at the last minute. It costs pounds 12 and is available on proof of identity. The family passport cost half as much again as a single one. If issued for a family or husband/wife, only ALL could travel, not a single person mentioned in the BVP.


  • The first British Visitors Passport (BVP) had grey pages on the inside and beige outside
  • In the second version of the BVP, the inside changed to white
  • The third had a white inside with small flecks of colored thread distributed across it. These glow under ultraviolet light
  • The final version (from 07/1989) included also Tunesia, Yugoslavia, and even Canada as possible travel destinations (thanks to input from a British reader)

Besides the BVP, there was an even simpler form of document valid for day trips to France known as a British Excursion Document! Literally a piece of paper with a photograph on it, which was stamped by the Post Office! It cost about £2.50 and was valid for 3 days.


Version from 1979


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  1. A long shot, but worth a try. Does anyone know if the BVP counts as a having had a ‘previous passport ‘ when applying for a new passport online? I had one in 1994 for a trip to Paris and haven’t had a passport since.

  2. I would love to know what a British Excursion Document looked like and how you could get one. I’ve still got my BVP from the mid 80s, replete with mandatory serial-killer-type photobooth pic, but am intrigued by the Excursion Document and would love to know what identification was required to get one. Does anyone know?

  3. my late parents had a one year bvp in 1984.there were either stopped from going to morroco and went to Tunisia or vice versa.having that information would tell me were the photos were of many thanks a hampsire

  4. Seeing the comment about Yugoslavia brings to mind a friend’s experience in summer 1989. Three of us were interrailing from Istanbul to Vienna. The route took us through Belgrade, where my friend’s BVP was not a recognized travel document. I can’t remember if we were aware of this and had decided to chance it or if we were simply ignorant. I suspect the latter. The train personnel and border guards–intimidating looking people–were very unhappy when he presented it. They marched him off the train. My other companion and I had no idea what to do. Leaving the train was not permitted, and even if it were, what could we accomplish? The border guards had our passports too, and we spoke not a word of any language in common use there. Eventually he returned somewhat shaken. He had been taken to a grey, Orwellian building, and been yelled at for a couple of hours. I think the officials were trying to scare rather than having any real intention of detaining him. He said there were tanks on the streets on the walk back to the station.

    We were all pretty happy and relieved to cross into Austria. Lesson learned!

  5. I’m trying to find out if it was valid in Yugoslavia. I had it in 1987 ad experienced a problem at the border but seem to remember it was valid but the border guard didn’t know it. Can someone help?

    1. Hello Stepan. The BVP was never valid for Yugoslavia. The border guard was correct to not let you in. The countries for which the BVP was valid were visible on the document and that included most European countries but surely not Eastern countries.

      1. Yugoslavia is listed on the BVP as a country that accepted it.
        I travelled there on one in 1989 to watch Celtic play Partizan Belgrade in a place called Mostar.

        1. Hi James, you are correct. I just found a late-type from 1991 which also lists TUNISIA and YUGOSLAVIA. These countries must have been added maybe after 1989. Thanks for letting me know, I learned from you and will update the article. Stay safe, Tom

  6. in response to Jacqueline Dempsey surely it should say “excursion” and not “execution”

  7. Hi Tom. I wish the government still issued the BVP, I had one in 1977 when I went to Lloret de Mar in Spain with my friend and his future wife. So easy to get one AND it was instant ( on the spot). My Brother and Sister-in-law have moved to Mollina in Andalusia, Spain. I miss them so much and would love to go visit them, but (I have Brain Cancer, Epilepsy and Asthma) and my consultants at Bexley Wing (Yorkshire Cancer Centre) don’t want me to have a proper 10-year passport because they want me to be as near to the hospital as possible. So nobody will sign the form for me. If the Visitor Passport was still available, then I could go see them and stay for a ‘Long Weekend’. We keep in touch by Tects, but it’s not the same as hearing their voices and seeing their faces :-(. Kevin Vickers from Leeds.

    1. Hi Kevin,
      Thanks for your comment. a document like the BVP is not anymore possible today due to security reasons. All the best for you and I wish you a happy 2020. Cheers, Tom

  8. I had a one year passport in 1988. I thought it was brilliant, as you could book an holiday and then go & get a one year passport! Obviously it was very vulnerable though as you could have taken anyone’s birth certificate & a pic of yourself! You literally filled a form in, presented your birth certificate and pic then 5 minutes later you got a passport! How easy was that! It wouldn’t work today as you would have people being paid to get to send to people wanting to get in the UK. I am sure that goes on with normal passports too but security is much better now. In fact I cannot remember any security in the 1980’s. I probably niave but everything seemed quite relaxed.

    1. Thank you for sharing your experience, Sharon. Yes, the document was discontinued as it had no security features and easy to forge. The new standards on such documents are very tight. Cheers, Tom

  9. I am curious about the British Excursion Document. Google is mostly silent. Do you have one? If you don’t, do you have any pictures of one?

    1. Hello I have an excursion document for myself and baby son, issued in August 1985 in Ramsgate. We visited France and there are two border check stamps on it.

        1. A friend and I went to France in 1968, we were both 15yrs old and unaccompanied by any adult. I find it hard to understand how this could have been allowed, but the fact is it did happen. Were there no rules then about unaccompanied children travelling abroad on a BVP?

          1. Good question. Until 4 October 1998, children under 16 years of age were able to be included on the passport of any family member. Since then, all children have been required to hold their own passports. Children whose particulars were already included in their parents’ passports were not immediately affected by this change and may continue
            to travel with their parents until the passport concerned expires or needs to be replaced. Typically, either parent may consent to the issue of a passport for a child. The parents were not married at the child’s birth; the mother must agree if the father has not been granted parental responsibility.

            However, I believe the rules for the BVP were different, but I could not find a referring source.

      1. Dear Jacqueline,
        Sorry to bring up this old thread, but I’m trying to find out exactly what a British Excursion Document looked like, so that I can describe it (in a novel I’m writing). I understand it was a photo on a piece of paper that got stamped at the Post Office, but if you have a few minutes and wouldn’t mind describing its size and what was written on it, I’d be very grateful. Most importantly, I’m wondering what proof of identity was needed. Did they need to see your birth certificate?
        Many thanks in advance
        Victoria Vaughan

        1. I would love to see a British Excursion Document again as I am convinced I travelled on one for a school day trip to Paris (overnight ferry with P&O via Southampton to Le Havre) in about 1984/85 when I was about 13/14yrs old. I am sure I didn’t have a passport at that time but seem to remember being in possession of a very simple green (?) document (piece of paper/card?) on which was affixed my passport photo for that trip.

          1. Thanks. I got this question often but I never saw such a document. I will ask a former HMPO officer. Stay tuned. Best, Tom

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