US passports are getting a makeover in 2016. The information page will be made of polycarbonate and contain an embedded info chip, according to Brenda Sprague, deputy assistant secretary for passport services, reports the LA Times. She confirmed comments made to me earlier this year at the NYT Travel Show that it will not be possible to add additional pages to the new passport books. The LA Times continues:
But, Sprague said, “Nobody does [that] anymore. It is not state of the art; it is archaic.”
Well, I just did that a few weeks ago in New Delhi at an American Citizen Services office filled with other nobodies. The officers tried to convince every single person to spend more money and forfeit their passports for 2 weeks, while in a foreign country, to apply for new passports instead.
I understand the reasoning, though, as reader Seam M argued (note: I have not verified which countries do and do not issue additional pages):
The USA is the only country in the world that still issues additional pages to passport booklets, so phasing those out will just bring things in line with what the rest of the world does.
Ironically, the USA was the reason why the rest of the world had to stop issuing additional pages as the US Government has refused to accept foreign passports with additional pages as valid for travel to the USA.
Pages will also be numbered, a minor addition it is claimed will help people keep track of remaining pages.
You will still be able to get the larger 52-page book at application for no additional cost over the standard 28-page book.
Back at the NYT Travel Show, Ms. Sprague hinted that second passports might have a validity longer than 2 years, but I have found no public announcement on that. I have a second passport, though it is effectively only useful for 18 months as many countries require 6 months’ validity in your passport for entry.
Why Get Extra Pages?
Extra pages used to be free. Now that they cost $82, the standard 24-page insert is per page most expensive than a new passport. BUT, many people do not know that you can request 2 sets of pages for the same price, thus cheaper than a new passport. Officers officially have the option to add up to 3 sets of pages to your passport, and a 4th under ’emergency circumstances.’ See 7 FAM 1300 APPENDIX V SUPPLEMENTAL VISA PAGE INSERTS, and print it out if you are going in to try for a 3rd or 4th. I consider the end of additional pages an emergency, though I doubt an officer will agree.
The process is much easier than a passport renewal, especially for those overseas. Typically, with an advance appointment, you can get additional pages same-day at any American Citizen Services around the world. Same-day passport renewals are only possible in the US at Regional Passport Agencies.
For those with long-term visas, many countries will allow you to bring the old, canceled passport and use the visa. Others will move the visa for you. For countries like Russia I do not like to rely on either when I am at a border post.
What Should You Do?
If you need extra pages, get them before 2016. Request 48 pages. Admire your beautiful, bulging passport. Here are my current main 52-page passport with 3 sets of additional pages and my second passport with 52-pages.