Once upon a time, when US citizen travelers filled up the pages of their passport books, they could apply for additional passport pages. The Passport Agency would sew another booklet of blank visa pages into their passport. People who were very frequent travelers wound up with inch-thick passports with two or even three sets of extra pages added. In fact, among some travelers, the thickness of the passport was a point of pride.
Those days are over, my friends.
The US State Department stopped offering additional passport pages service on December 31, 2015. Now, if you run out of blank passport pages, you need to apply for a passport renewal.
Understanding the Different Types of Passport Pages
The standard US passport book contains 28 pages. They’re not all the same, though!
- Pages 1-7 are information pages. The first few pages are pre-printed with information by the State Department. Most of these pages are basic information about your passport and international travel. The most important of these pages is page 2, the personal data page. This is where your photo, name, and other personal information is printed. Page 3, directly adjacent the personal data page, is where you will sign your passport.
- Pages 8-24 are visa pages. When we talk about “blank passport pages,” we are talking about these pages. You’ll see the word “Visas” printed at the top of the page. These pages are meant for all of the entry and exit stamps you’ll collect as you travel. If you need to get any visas for your trips, they will be placed on these pages.
- Pages 25-28 are endorsement pages. These pages are marked “Endorsements/Mentions Speciales/Anotaciones.” Endorsement pages are meant for the use of the US State Department only. If there are any special conditions to your passport, or amendments made to your passport, the State Department will print them there. For instance, if get a new passport after your passport is lost, one of the endorsement pages may state “this passport is a replacement for a lost or stolen passport.”
Why Is It Important to Have Blank Visa Pages?
Every time you travel internationally, your destination country will stamp your passport with an entry stamp and an exit stamp. You’ll need to have at least one blank page available for every country you visit.
If you need to get a travel visa for your trip, most countries require that you have two blank pages available – one for your visa, and one for your entry and exit stamps.
Some countries have even more restrictive requirements for blank passport pages. South Africa, for instance, does not require visas for US citizens to visit. However, you do need to have two blank passport pages side-by-side to be allowed entry. You’ll need two blank pages for every entry, so even if you make a day trip into a neighboring country, you’d need another set of blank pages when you return to South Africa!
Get Extra Blank Passport Pages When You Renew
If you need to renew your passport early because you have run out of blank pages in your passport, you’re probably the type of traveler who could benefit from an extra-large passport. The good news is that the US State Department offers “non-standard” 52-page passport books at no extra charge! All you have to do is check the box on your passport application that you want the large book. They are available at the discretion of the Passport Agency, which may have limited stocks of the large books, so a regular size book may be substituted in some cases.
As you prep for your holiday travel, make sure to flip through your passport and check to see how many blank passport pages you have. Running low? Apply online for a renewal today!