Here’s everything you need to know about the new US passports

Finally catching up.
Finally catching up.
Image: Creative Commons/Beatrice Murch
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For global travelers, a passport is a golden ticket. And starting in 2016, US passports will be getting an overhaul and catching up with the rest of the world’s protocol. It’s a lot to take on: US passport holders have increased by more than ten-fold over the past two decades. If your passport is due for a renewal, or you’re finally giving into your travel bug, here are some of the changes coming your way.

The information page 

Emulating most countries across the world, US passports will embed a data chip that makes your personal data machine-readable. The chip, embedded in the information page, will be protected by a polycarbonate coating that helps prevent your book from getting wet or bending when you sit on it, or drop it off the Eiffel Tower.

Numbered pages

The US is going back to its old ways and putting numbers on its passports pages, whether you get the standard 28-page book, or opt for the 52-pager (for no additional cost). This addition will help people keep track of their remaining pages, especially since some countries won’t accept passports that have fewer than four pages remaining. But there’s a catch.

No more additional pages

The US is one of the only countries that still issues extra pages to frequent travelers, stapling an additional 24-page—or even 48-page (pdf, page 4)—into their passports to make room for stamps and visas—even though the US deems foreign passports with additional pages not valid for travel. Too bad for the harried traveler: Extra pages are more costly than a renewal (they now cost $82), but less of a hassle to acquire, with same-day results most of the time.