The State Department will no longer entertain requests to add pages to U.S. passports after December 31, 2015, according to an agency regulation published today. The discontinuance of this service, which is popular among frequent international travelers, will coincide with the January release of a new and highly securitized “Next Generation U.S. Passport.”
Under current policy, holders of U.S. passports, which come in 28- and 52-page books, have the option of paying for an additional 24-page insert when their valid passport lacks adequate space for additional visas or entry or exit visa stamps. Beginning in January, applicants in need of additional pages must obtain the new form of U.S. passport. According to the State Department, the release of the Next Generation Passport and the elimination of added pages will decrease the incidence of fraudulent modifications and illegal use of U.S. passports.
In anticipation of the new rule, the State Department will accept requests for additional pages until the end of the year. It is also allowing passport applicants to apply for the 52-page passport book at no additional cost. Since October 2014, it has automatically issued the larger version of the book to all overseas passport applicants.
What This Means for U.S. Passport Holders
Once the new State Department regulation takes effect, frequent travelers who fill their valid U.S. passport with stamps and visas will be required to obtain a new passport prior to the expiration of their current passport book. In some instances, those who have a valid visa that they wish to use may have to apply for a new one after they receive their new U.S. passport, because not every country will admit a traveler presenting a new passport along with an old passport containing a still-valid visa.