Stamp-happy immigration officials, US CBP among the worst, love to consume passport pages with scatter-shot stamps. And then all those countries with full-page visas.
Needing additional passport pages is a great problem to have. I saw a Lebanese man in Dubai that had a passport about 3 inches tall, bursting with sets of new pages, and the immigration officer said he had seen even bigger ones.
The US State Dept is not so flexible, typically if the passport is in good condition they allow up to 3 sets of pages added, though that is up to consular discretion, and according to my experience yesterday in San Jose, Costa Rica, those who start out with the larger US passport, which is a no-cost option during application, may only be allowed to add 2 sets over time.
My current passport is from 2009 and immediately after getting it I added 1 set of pages before the fee went from free to $82. Since then I have been begging and cajoling immigration officers the world over to conserve pages, even by stamping over other stamps. Chinese immigration officers are especially helpful in this, they seem to relish stamping over others. But I was at the last few pages and needed a new set.
The standard process is to fill out the DS-4085 form online, send everything off and wait…currently 4-6 weeks. Or pay $60 plus return shipping to expedite and wait 2-3 weeks. It is possible to try for an appointment at a regional passport agency to get it done under 2 weeks. None of this waiting and shipping is good.
Instead, make an appointment with American Citizen Services at a diplomatic mission when you are overseas and get it done on the spot. Each embassy and consulate does things differently, most, perhaps all, have an appointment system on their official website. Additional passport pages is considered a ‘routine service’ and so an appointment is required and that can be hard to get last-minute as slots are often limited and many only take appointments on limited days.
In my case I made an appointment at the US Embassy in San Jose, Costa Rica for 8 am.
I arrived 8:05 due to a major traffic jam and missed my slot so had to wait 25 minutes through an assortment of characters: 3 aging hippies that had had everything stolen, a middle-aged guy who kept not completely filling out his form, a women whose new passport had left off her middle name and was in hysterics about her upcoming trip back the US, a family in traditional religious clothing (Mennonite?) that had a new baby and had not checked the registration requirements since the prior baby five years ago, when the assumption was not yet that babies were imminent threats to the US. One poor guy was working the crowd by himself so not the most efficient operation.
Once seen I handed in my form and passport, made payment (USD or local, cash or credit) and had my passport back within 30 minutes.
Total investment: 2 hours of my time due to traffic, the $82 fee, $10 each way for taxis, and an interesting chat with the hippies. And I never had to trust the passport to the mail.
There is no requirement of residence or anything like that to visit American Citizen Services at any embassy or consulate. If they have appointments available you can book it.
If you have never visited an US embassy or consulate, or not recently, it is an eye-opening experience into the post-9/11 US security state, and an added bonus for going this route.