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.
“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.
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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.