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Almost Out of Blank Visa Pages in Your Passport Book? Here's How to Fix That

No more blank visa pages in passport book.
No more blank visa pages by jkraft5/DepositPhotos

IMPORTANT: Effective January 1, 2016, The U.S. Department of State no longer issues additional visa pages. This service has been discontinued to enhance the security of U.S. Passports and to adhere to international passport standards. Applicants in need of additional pages in their valid passports must apply for a passport renewal by mail or, in the case of a passport issued to a minor, obtain a new passport. Frequent travelers can apply for 52-page passports instead of the regular 24 pages for no additional cost.

A Google search of "travel every country in the world" returns over 600,000 results. You'll find articles on everything from being the youngest American to travel every country in the world to tips on how you can visit every country yourself in five years. You'll see stories about lessons learned, challenges faced, goals met, and records broken. This growing trend to see all 196 countries of the world has seen an explosion in the last three years. All those countries equal a whole lot of passport pages. If you're among these international frequent travelers, you've no doubt run out of room in your passport to meet the entry requirements of some countries.

There are countries with restrictions that may not allow entry without a certain number of blank visa pages in your passport. The number of pages, and if they need to be consecutive or not, is determined by each country. Check the country's requirements before purchasing your air travel tickets. Even though you may be making plans to travel only to one country, if it requires four consecutive blank pages in your passport book for entry and you only have three, you could be denied entry. Moreover, many airlines, in an effort to avoid these situations for travelers, will not allow passengers without the required number of blank pages to board the plane to a particular destination.

Two Ways to Get More Pages for Your Passport Book

Standard passport books come with 24 pages, of which 17 of those are blank and dedicated to visas and entry/exit stamps for the countries you travel to and through. One way to handle the small number of pages is to request a 52-page passport book when you apply for your passport in the first place. The other option is to add pages to your valid passport in packets of 24 blank visa pages.

If you're one of those adventurous travelers burning through blank passport pages, you know up front that you'll need the maximum number of pages. When you submit your application for a new passport with Form DS-11 or a renewal with Form DS-82, check the '52 page' box at the top of the application. You aren't guaranteed the larger passport book simply by requesting it, but every effort will be made to honor your request. Your larger 52-page passport book will yield you 43 blank visa pages.

Maybe you didn't get your larger passport book, or maybe you didn't order one and are churning through countries faster than expected; not to worry. You can order more pages for your passport book if your passport is still valid and if you can submit your passport book to have the pages added. Many countries won't let you enter with less than six months validity left in your passport book, so if you don't have at least a year of validity left, it's probably best just to order a new one.

When adding pages to your passport book makes the most sense to your situation, fill out Form DS-4085 and submit it with your current passport and the $82 fee to add pages. You can add one or two 24-page packets for the same price, so you may as well get two. When you submit your passport request by mail, you will want to be sure to use a secure Tyvek envelope and choose a traceable delivery method. Your U.S. passport is a hot commodity in the travel world and you should make every effort to protect it.

How to Get Your Passport Book Pages Back Fast

If you're in a hurry, you can schedule a face-to-face appointment at a Passport Agency or Acceptance Center. Sometimes those appointments may be hard to come by depending on where you live, so if you have travel plans within two weeks or need a foreign visa within four weeks, you may be better off using the services of a passport expeditor. You can have your passport in hand in as little as a few days, maybe even overnight if it's a real emergency.

Be sure to choose a registered passport expeditor who has a reputation of reliability, is highly recommended, and is in good standing with the Better Business Bureau. Registered passport expeditors can take advantage of an allotment of daily expedited applications from the U.S. Department of State and can get your request through faster than you could yourself. You may hand deliver everything to the expeditor's office if there is one close by, or overnight it if necessary. The faster you need it, the greater the cost, naturally.

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