For us, every month is about passport awareness, but apparently someone in the government thought passports needed their own extra special month.
September is passport awareness month – who knew? For us, every month is about passport awareness, but apparently someone in the government thought passports needed their own extra special month. So to honor that odd fact, we’ve put together some information about your very own US passport – what’s special about it now, and what you can expect to change in the coming years.
Your current passport, the one that the US State department issues right now, is equipped with an RFID chip in the front cover. This fancy chip contains all of the information found on the identification page of your passport. The chip is an added security device that helps prevent people from stealing your passport and altering the information on the page so they can pass it off as their own.
In 2016, a few things are going to change about the US passport. It will have a polycarbonate page in it, and that page will contain the RFID chip with all of your personal information. The new page material will help keep your information even safer and protect the chip from water and other types of damage.
Also in 2016, visa pages will become numbered, and you won’t be able to order additional pages if your passport fills up with too many stamps. This means that even though your passport is valid for ten years, you won’t be able to travel on it anymore if it fills up with too many stamps.
What’s the frequent traveler to do? Simple. People who travel regularly can order a passport that has 52 pages (43 for visas) instead of the traditional 28 pages (17 for visas). These double-stuff passports are available now, and they don’t cost anything extra. You just have to make that request, but the State Department doesn’t currently guarantee that everyone who asks will be granted the bigger passport.
Here are a few other fun things to know about passports:
- In 2013, 117.4 million Americans had passports. That number sat at just 7.3 million in 1989.
- Adult passports are valid for 10 years, but many countries (particularly in Europe) are starting to require six months of validity on your passport, essentially shortening its validity to nine and a half years. Once your passport passes the nine year mark, it’s probably time to apply for a new one.
- Roughly 20% of passport applications encounter problems of some sort.
Twenty percent. That’s huge! But thankfully, you’ve got us. At SPS, we can help ensure that your passport application is filled out correctly and that you have your new passport in hand as quickly as you like. Contact us today to get help with your passport and avoid all hassles.
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.