At Swift, many of our avid travelers have traveled so much that they get to the point where stamps and visas cover EVERY page of their passport, and they have to have an additional set of visa pages attached to their passport to make room for more visas, and more passport stamps. Effective as early as January 2016, the US Department of State is discontinuing this popular service, and releasing the next generation of US passports with improved security features.
The next generation US Passport, due to be released this January, incorporates new security features designed to protect the integrity of US passports books. One of the new security measures is discontinuing the option to add pages to a passport. The State Department believes that this will decrease opportunity to fraudulently modify a passport, or to use it illegally. This is the primary reason that the extra pages option is being discontinued. Other new key features of the next generation passport are a polycarbonate data-page, personalized laser engraving, conical laser perforation of the passport number through the data and visa pages, watermark graphics, security artwork, optical variable security devices, tactile features, and optically variable inks. Sounds pretty impressive, doesn’t it?
To help mitigate the need for travelers to add visa pages to their passports, the Department of State is already offering a solution at no extra cost. When you apply for a new passport or renew your passport, it is now possible to select either the regular standard 28 page passport, OR a 52 page passport. If you choose the 52 page option, you are essentially getting the extra pages in from the start vs adding them when your passport is filled with stamps. All domestic passport book applicants will still have the option to choose between a 26-page passport book and a larger 50-page passport book, but the larger 50-page passport books will be automatically issued to people applying overseas.
The only negative to consider with this important change is that if your 52 page book fills with stamps and visas, you will have to renew it instead of adding pages. If you have a valid visa that you want to use, you may have to replace that visa when replacing your passport. Some countries such as Brazil, allow you to travel with both the old and new passport to prevent having to reapply for a visa, but other countries don’t. Let us know if you need help determining which countries will allow you to travel with both passports. If you are in a jam, we can help replace your passport AND visas.
For the nitty gritty details, you can read all about the proposed change on the Federal Register Website. If you are an avid traveler, please make sure that you request a 52 page book, and of course contact Swift for help an information!
Rob Lee is co-founder of Swift Passport and Visa Services. Originally from Michigan, Rob is an avid fisherman and SCUBA diver who enjoys adventure travel.