For all my Americans peeps living in Hong Kong, or anywhere for that matter, listen up! You might want to check your passports. The State Department recently announced it is ending the practice of adding new pages to existing passport books.
The United States is currently the only country in the world that still issues additional pages to passports. Interestingly, the Untied States was the reason why the rest of the world had to stop issuing additional pages, as the US Government refuses to accept foreign passports with additional pages as valid for travel.
Starting January 1, 2016, anyone running out of space in their 28-page passports will have to pay $110 for a new passport. Which means you still have time (23 days, to be exact…) to have an extra 24 pages stitched in your current passport for only $82. But be warned, if you’ve already added 3 extra sets of 24 pages, like me, you’re out of luck. I recently learned the State Department only adds a maximum of 3 sets of extra pages (72 pages total) to the original 28-page passports.
The State Department said the decision to stop adding pages was made for security reasons. “When a passport gets larger and larger, it’s more difficult to keep the same security standards,” said William Cocks, a spokesman for the Bureau of Consular Affairs. In addition, all passports issued after the first of the year will be made of polycarbonate and contain an embedded information chip. Smiling identification photos will also no longer be allowed.
Anyone applying for a new passport will get the old one back. Though the passport will be canceled, any unused visas in the old book will still be valid. So, if you still have eight years before some of your visas expire, you’ll have to carry your old passport with your new passport. yay. yay.
To help offset this new rule, the State Department began routinely issuing 52-page passports last fall to anyone applying for a new passport at embassies and consulates around the world. Yay! Yay!
While reading about this new ruling online, I came across additional information that I found interesting. Even after the added security measures that went in effect after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, which require Americans traveling to Canada, Mexico and Bermuda to now have passports (three countries where Americans could travel passport-free before), there are still only 124 millions U.S. passports in circulation (38% of Americans). Crazy, right?