U.S. Passports Are Getting a Whole New Look

The State Department started issuing the “Next Generation Passport” books in 2021 and the rollout will continue in 2022.

The most noticeable change is the enhanced new data page of the Next Generation Passport.

The most noticeable change is the enhanced new data page of the Next Generation Passport.

Courtesy of U.S. State Department

If you recently applied for a new or renewed U.S. passport, there’s a chance the one you received or will receive looks very different from the one most of us are familiar with. That’s because the U.S. State Department has begun issuing new Next Generation Passport books.

The rollout of the Next Generation Passport began in 2021, and by the end of 2022 all passport agencies will be issuing the new passport books, according to the State Department. Unfortunately, between now and then there’s no way to request a Next Generation Passport and there’s no guarantee that’s the new passport you’ll get—for now. But starting next year, all new passports should be Next Generation Passports.

The most noticeable change with the new and improved passport is the enhanced data page, also known as the page with a traveler’s name, photo, date of birth, and nationality on it. The photo is now a laser engraved black-and-white image and the page itself is much more durable with high-tech imagery on it.

U.S. passport open and shut; By the end of 2022, all new passports will be Next Generation Passports.

By the end of 2022, all new passports will be Next Generation Passports.

Courtesy of U.S. State Department

“The Next Generation Passport uses new technologies to produce a more robust passport with enhanced security features, such as a polycarbonate data page, laser engraved personalization, and updated artwork,” a U.S. State Department spokesperson said in a statement to AFAR. The Next Generation passport is “a modernized U.S. passport book—redesigned to be smarter, safer [and] better.”

The Next Generation Passport also features enhanced images of U.S. history, culture, and traditions on the visa pages and there is a new perforated passport number throughout. The passport number in the new passports begins with a letter followed by eight numbers.

A tad smaller than its predecessor, the Next Generation Passport has 26 pages (versus 28) in a standard book, or 50 pages (versus 52) in an expanded book, which frequent travelers can request.

Related How to Expedite Your U.S. Passport Application
For those in possession of the previous generation of passport books, known as the “ePassport,” which was initially rolled out in 2007, don’t worry—your passport will still be valid for international travel until its expiration date.

The State Department is currently only issuing Next Generation Passport books but said it plans to also eventually upgrade passport cards as well.

>> Next: Need a New U.S. Passport? Wait Times Are (Finally) Coming Down

Michelle Baran is a deputy editor at AFAR where she oversees breaking news, travel intel, airline, cruise, and consumer travel news. Baran joined AFAR in August 2018 after an 11-year run as a senior editor and reporter at leading travel industry newspaper Travel Weekly.
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