HUGE Change to State Department’s passport issuance. Are you affected?

For years, if you needed a change, addition or renewal of your passport, you could just simply mail in your old passport with a check, perhaps an expedite fee, and then wait in the mail to get it back.  Well, as of January 1st, things are going to be changing at the State Department.

If you’re like us, you’ve got a lot of stamps in your passport.  It’s a awesome souvenir, and a great way to go back over the years and remember trips that you’ve been on.  It can also be a bit of a hinderance however, being that many countries require 1 or 2 empty pages of visas in order to admit you to their country.  Soon we’ll be heading to South Africa, and the State Department’s website advises that upon arrival you will need to make sure that you have two blank pages in your passport or risk being denied entry.

As of this writing, I’ve only got three free pages in my passport book, and we have 5 countries to visit before South Africa, I’m at a real risk of not being allowed into the country!

No worries though, as in the past when your passport is getting full, you can send off to get an extra 24 or 48 pages added to your passport.  This has been extremely valuable to frequent fliers, as a lot of us fill our passports quickly.  Also, some visas for certain countries expire when the passport does.  So, if you get a new passport, simply showing the expired passport with the old visa won’t cut it.  You’ll have to go back to the embassy or consulate and get a new visa.

Extra pages eliminated as of January 1, 2016

According to the state department’s website, the option to add new pages to your existing passport will no longer be available after December 31, 2015.  Quoting the website:

Beginning January 1, 2016 we will discontinue the service of adding additional visa pages to U.S. passports. Requests for additional visa pages may only be submitted until December 31, 2015.

Passport holders in need of additional space in their passports will need to renew their passports by mail using form DS-82.  If you renew your passport from outside of the United States you will automatically be issued a larger 52-page book.  If you renew your passport within the United States, please indicate your preference for a 28-page or 52-page book by checking the appropriate box at the top of the form.  There is no fee difference for book sizes.

So it looks like the new passports will be issued as larger, 52 page books to avoid this problem in the future.  But if you’re like me, and you just got your passport recently, you should definetly look into getting new pages added ASAP.

But I need my passport soon!

We’ve got international travel in just under 9 days, and I was concerned about not getting the passport back in time.  Seattle’s local passport agency to the rescue!  I showed them my travel plans and was given a time 2 days from now to go back and pickup the passport.  The agent was beyond friendly, and was even commenting on how jealous she was that we were traveling so much.

Again, from the State Department website… here’s a listing of all the regional offices where you can get your passport expedited.   Simply call 1-877-487-2778 to schedule your appointment.  The line is open 24/7.  I’d suggest calling NOW rather than later.

Regional Passport Agencies

Run, don’t walk… get this done NOW.

Remember that your application needs to be submitted before December 31 to be considered.  I would make your appointment soon, otherwise if you need more pages in the future you’ll be forced to get an entirely new passport with new number, visas, etc.

Author: Jon Nickel-D'Andrea

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1 Comment

  1. Thanks for the reminder!!! Much appreciated! 🙂

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