Changes are coming in 2016 if you have a U.S. passport. Not only will they look sleeker, but also be more durable and more secure. We like to be prepared and not get caught off guard, so we advise that you take a few minutes now to review the changes and check your passport. A minute taken now can save you time, hassles, and money once the 2016 changes go into effect.
A High Tech Information Page
Perhaps the biggest change coming is going to be to the information page. Starting in 2016, new issues will have a machine-readable data chip embedded in the information page. This chip will contain all of the personal information currently found on the information page. The idea is to help prevent people from stealing your passport and manually altering information on the page to make it look like their own.
The new information page will also be made of polycarbonate. This coating will be stronger and prevent damage when you get it wet, put it through the washing machine, or stick it in your back pocket for hours on end of traveling. You know this happens to you, too! I’m really excited about this new feature. Given the number of passports we have replaced in our family due to water and wear and tear damage, this is a welcome change.
The Next Generation Passport
The next update of the U.S. passport book will not only contain the polycarbonate data-page, but will be personalized with laser engraving. This passport will use a laser perforation of the passport number through the data and visa page and display a general artwork upgrade and new security features, including watermark, security artwork, optical variable security devices, tactile features, and optically variable inks.
Accordingly, after the Department begins issuing the Next Generation Passport book, all domestic applicants will still have the option to choose between a 26-page book or a larger 50-page book, but the larger 50-page passport books will be automatically issued to people applying overseas.
No More Additional Passport Pages
With the good comes the sad. Effective January 1, 2016, the U.S. State Department will no longer issue additional pages to your passport. We loved having additional pages added, because you had a ready made history of your travels at your fingertips. We could even stop into a passport office and get this done on a same day basis. But, alas, not anymore. The primary reason for eliminating visa page inserts is to protect the integrity of the Next Generation Passport books.
With the end of the service looming, if you are running low on pages, the time to act is now. You have several options:
- Have pages added to your passport before the end of the year. If you still have several years of validity on your passport, send it in for additional pages service now and request the large 48 page insert. There is no extra fee for the large insert. But, time is running out so act fast. Here is the link to get this done before the end of the year.
- Renew now. You can request a large 52 page book at no additional cost when you renew. If you travel more frequently, I highly suggest you opt for the 52 page book.
If you need to get a passport for the first time or get a passport for a minor child under age 16, you can also request the large 52 page book for no extra charge. Just know that the the State Department sometimes runs low on stocks of large books, so you may get issued a standard size book instead.
Numbering Passport Pages
You can call this a new change, but it is actually going back to the old ways. Starting in 2016, the U.S. State Department will start numbering pages again. This is great for those of us who are always counting blank pages before we travel There is a reason behind this seemingly obsessive behavior. Many countries will not let you enter with less than four empty pages. This change we like.