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Suppose someone wishes to renew their UK passport early so they can keep the red design for as long as possible and avoid the new blue design.

When should they apply, such that it is early enough to avoid being too late, but not so early that they could have used a red passport for much longer?

The hypothetical applicant is an ordinary renewal with no special consideration needed.

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    That will require that we know when the new blue design will be implemented, and it's quite likely that the date will be impossible to know. It will likely be when the stock of the old design is used up. – Jim MacKenzie Mar 22 '18 at 21:42
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Britain has historically redesigned passports every five years, most recently in December 2010 and December 2015. However, in this case there needs to be a change anyway (to remove references to the European Union), and according to the Guardian the government have brought the redesign date forward to October 2019.

According to current plans therefore, the last British passports with reference to the European Union will be issued in March 2019, and to be certain of getting a burgundy passport your applicant will need to get one issued before the blue passports are introduced in October 2019.

However, in practice, some burgundy passports may well be issued after that date to use up old stock.

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