This Is Why the Last Few Pages of Your Passport Are Blank

The last few pages of U.S. passports are left blank on purpose—and there’s a good reason for it.

A U.S. passport cover on top of an open passport with colorful stamps

Endorsement pages in the back of your passport are meant to be left blank except for under very specific circumstances.

Photo by Andrew S/Shutterstock

If you’ve ever thumbed through your passport to count the number of pages left, you may want to count again—those last few pages are technically not supposed to be used for entry and exit stamps or visas.

They’re called endorsement pages, and according to the State Department, no entry or exit stamps are to be placed back there. In a standard passport, these are the last two pages (and the final three pages in an extended 52-page passport book). More specifically, they are the pages that don’t have the word “visas” at the top, but rather the words “endorsements / mentions speciales / anotaciones” running along the side.

“The Department of State designates the last few pages of a passport book for endorsements, which are typed lines of additional information that describe the circumstances under which a passport was issued or how the passport can be used,” a State Department spokesperson told AFAR.

Those notes are often typed (though in some instances stamped or handwritten), in all capital letters, onto one of the passport endorsement pages, usually at the time of issue. They are typically reviewed by immigration officials.

Why you would need an endorsement page

There are myriad reasons someone might have additional information on their endorsement pages, although the most common is that the passport is a replacement for one that was lost or stolen. In that scenario, the endorsement would explain why the passport was issued, when it expires, and whether validity can be extended. The same would be true of replacements for passports that were canceled in error, damaged, or contained a mistake (such as a misspelled name).

Other examples might state whether that bearer (and, in certain cases, their eligible family members) has a certain status that requires them to travel internationally, such as if they’re a Peace Corps volunteer, a member of the American National Red Cross, a military service person, a U.S. diplomat or ambassador, a member of Congress, a Supreme Court Justice, the Attorney General, or a current or former Secretary of State, Vice President, or President of the United States.

An endorsement may also be needed in the rare instance that your name is too long to fit on the data page. While your surname would never be truncated, your first and middle names might be if they’re too long, in which case, the complete spelling would be on the endorsement page. Along the same lines, celebrities who are generally known by a stage name would have their pseudonym on the endorsements page. For example, while the name on Lady Gaga’s passport’s data page would read her given name, Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, she might have an endorsement that states she uses an assumed name in addition to her legal name.

Additionally, endorsements might limit the validity of a passport. For instance, someone who is being deported from another country or a criminal apprehended abroad who is being extradited back to the United States would receive an endorsement (in this case, with a specialized stamp) that states the passport is only valid for return to the United States, by a specific date, after which it is void.

Can you use those pages for visas?

Even if none of the endorsement categories applies to you, you still cannot use that space for visas, though occasionally an immigration official may accidentally stamp those pages.

“While a stamp mistakenly placed in the endorsement section of the passport should not affect the validity of the passport, the final decision is ultimately up to the border official,” the State Department spokesperson said.

If you’re running low on pages...

So, if you’re running low on passport pages, start preparing to renew your passport.

Bailey Berg is a freelance travel writer and editor, who covers breaking news, trends, tips, transportation, sustainability, the outdoors, and more. She was formerly the associate travel news editor at AFAR. Her work can also be found in the New York Times, the Washington Post, National Geographic, Condé Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, the Points Guy, Atlas Obscura, Vice, Thrillist, Men’s Journal, Architectural Digest, Forbes, Lonely Planet, and beyond.
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