If you received a passport that looks next-gen, that is because it is truly a Next Generation Passport. Consider yourself on the cutting edge of passport technology.
Starting in 2021, the U.S. State Department began issuing this brand new swanky passport. So while it will take the rest of America some eight-to-nine years time to catch up, if you’ve been one of the selected few to renew so far, consider yourself lucky.
For us, it's like upgrading to an iPhone on steroids.
Though the State Department has gone it over in detail, here is an outline of the significant differences we noticed.
The main passport page has been notably reinforced.
If you’re thumbing through your brand new passport, the first thing you might notice is one page in particular feels a little… different.
Do you mean that page that has our mugshot on it? Yes, that page.
The main passport page has been reinforced as "a polycarbonate data page, laser-engraved personalization, and updated artwork." Besides being plasticized, the page now gives a reflective surface, which we assume is for security.
(This was noticeable as we scanned the page for our own backup purposes.)
Curiously, the identifying passport number format also has changed: The passport number in the passport book now begins with a letter, followed by eight numbers.
A letter?! Blasphemy!
(It will be interesting being forced to remember a letter now, not just a sequence of numbers to fill out travel forms. Yes, I knew my passport number like my birth date.)
There’s a space to list a contact email address.
This makes sense, since I've changed addresses probably eight times more than I have changed email addresses in the last twenty years.
It also explains why I have so much spam, but we're digressing here.
The previous generation of passports allowed travelers to add their contact mailing addresses in case of a lost passport. The State Department has finally recognized that a decade can change a lot in the life of one person.
Instead, the new passport allows passport holders to list their home and international phone numbers—hola, WhatsApp!—along with their email address. The option to include an address is still there.
Though it seems like an insignificant move, consider this a substantial upgrade. Moving on to the 21st century, there?
Passport page numbers are much more in your face.
Passport pages have always been numbered. They were usually placed along the bottom, in faded ink. Though they were always there, they always felt like the guy who secretly snuck in the fact he has nine kids on the sixth date.
Basically, before, every page number blended into every page number, stamp collating after stamp. In practice, most customs officers blindly flip to the most empty page, and it gets particularly difficult looking for a particular page.
Who here like to keep their stamps neat?!
The most recent design makes page numbers much more noticeable, if not downright in your face. This new change should make it not only easier to find a certain stamp, but also lets passport holders see exactly how many pages they may have left.
Most noticeably, there is only 42 usable visa pages in the 52-page passport. We can’t imagine how many are left for the 24-page version; all the more reason to get the 52-page passport!
Go on now, use that thing. 😉