Photo: lunopark (Shutterstock)
Of course, you need a passport to cross international borders, but it’s more than a mandatory travel document: they keep track of your trip around the world, and there are nuances both in the design of your passport book and in the access it offers. Here are 12 interesting facts you might not know about your passport.
The current design of the US passport took six years
If you had a passport before 2007, it was different from the electronic passport book you probably have now. In the current design, you will find inspirational quotes and images that follow the general theme of the âAmerican Iconâ. The theme took six years to create and finalize, and was developed by a committee of six people from several government agencies. The last complete overhaul of US passports dates back to 1993.
But the so-called “new generation passports” are coming
The State Department is rolling out an updated passport book that is intended to be more secure than the current electronic passport. the New generation passport will have, once again, updated the illustrations of “Architecture, History, Culture, Landscapes and Lore of the United States” and a redesigned data page.
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This new version is issued in some passport agencies from 2021, but you cannot specifically request it and you do not need to replace your current passport book until its expiration date.
Passport colors are somewhat based on geography
Passports are available in red, green, blue, or black, and while passport book colors aren’t an exact science, there are models related to geography and politics.
Many countries that use shades of green have large Muslim populations or are members of the Economic Community of West African States; red is common in former communist countries and Nordic states; a handful of Caribbean and South American countries that are members of a specific customs union have blue passports; and black is the least common color, but it is found on the passports of some African countries, New Zealand and American diplomats.
You can collect your old passport when you apply for a new one
Although you will need to send in your old book when you renew your passport, in most cases you will get it back after your new one has been processed. (Sometimes you need to apply for it when renewing a new passport.) It may be presented in different packaging, but the important thing is that you don’t lose your stamps and visas from previous trips.
Some people are eligible for a second U.S. passport book
Some travelers are allowed to hold two valid U.S. passports at the same time. The following circumstances may qualify you for a second passport book:
You have a stamp from a country that prohibits travel to another country. For example, you will be refused entry to certain Middle Eastern countries with proof of travel to Israel.
You often need visas due to regular international travel.
Your main passport is delayed in the visa process, but you urgently need documents for international travel.
Secondary âlimited validityâ passports are valid for up to four years instead of the usual 10.
Passport cards are only valid for land and sea travel
While secondary passport books are scarce, many Americans hold both a passport book and a passport card. But the cards are only used at land and sea borders (not at airports) on return from Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, and some Caribbean countries. You can, however, use your passport card as an identity document for domestic air travel.
You can no longer add additional pages to your passport book
Previously, you could send your passport to have extra pages added if you ran out of space. You must now request a larger 52-page book with your application or renewal if you plan to exceed the standard 28 pages.
The passport gender markers are being updated
Currently, individuals can choose a binary gender option on their passport on their own, even if it does not match other citizenship documents required to apply. In early 2022, the State Department plans to fully deploy a gender marker X for those who do not identify with the masculine or feminine binary.
Visa-free travel defines who has the most powerful passport
According to the Passport Index, citizens of the United Arab Emirates hold the most powerful passport in the world on the basis of overall mobility, which means these people have the least restrictive visa requirements. The United States is tied for fifth with a handful of European nations as well as Singapore.
Take this with a grain of salt, however, another visa index ranking places Japan at the top of the passport list based on visa-free and visa-on-arrival access for its citizens.
US only accepts 45 visa-free passports
On the other hand, the United States ranks 75th on the list of most welcoming nations depending on the number of passports allowed in the country without a visa. The Passport Index lists 23 countries that accept citizens of the 198 nations listed in the world without a visa, and 17 that require a visa for all visitors.
You can lose your passport if you don’t pay your taxes
The IRS can work with the State Department to deny you a passport or revoke your current passport if you owe more than $ 54,000 in taxes. In 2019, more than 400,000 Americans were in danger lose their passport due to unpaid taxes.
Passports and citizenship can be purchased
It’s probably not surprising that even in countries with relatively strict immigration and citizenship requirements, those with enough cash can jump the line. Called citizenship by investment, these programs allow the super-rich to buy their entry. Some Caribbean countries are open for just $ 100,000, while the UK, Australia and New Zealand require an investment of millions of dollars.