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The Next Generation Passport: What You Need to Know as a U.S. Traveler

an example of the security information and personal information pages of the U.S. Next Generation Passport

The American government is constantly improving the security features of important documents including the U.S. passport. Like the e-passport before it, the Next Generation Passport (NGP) has security features that guard against identity theft and counterfeiting. It also has an RFID chip that makes it easier and faster to enter and exit countries.

The Next Generation Passport builds upon the success of the e-passport with new and improved features. This new version of the U.S. passport will help make your travels safer and faster.

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What is the Next Generation Passport?

The Next Generation Passport is a more advanced passport book than the previous e-passport. The NGP takes advantage of the latest technologies to deliver a safer and more useful travel document than those that came before it.

The latest features include a polycarbonate data page, laser-engraved personalization, and updated artwork.

The U.S. Department of State started issuing the Next Generation U.S. Passport book in 2021.

What are the features of the Next Generation Passport?

The Next Generation has the following new features:

  • Enhanced security features - The State Department is not being very specific about exactly what all of these improved security features are. It makes sense that they keep at least some of this information under wraps to keep travelers' identities safe. Suffice it to say, they felt there was a need to upgrade the tech used in the previous e-passport. So, they did.
  • Polycarbonate data page - The U.S. is one of many nations turning to polycarbonate IDs. One of the key benefits of this rigid plastic is that its layers cannot be separated once they are fused together. This means document information and photos that are fused in polycarbonate cannot be removed, edited, or swapped out. Doing so would be impossible without destroying the page.
  • Alphanumeric passport number - Each page of the passport book will include your new passport number in the new format. Instead of the nine-digit number on previous passports, the Next Generation Passport features a combination of both letters and numbers.
  • Additional microtext and laser engraving - These additional details make a passport much harder to forge, copy, or change. The technology required to make or reproduce these details is beyond what typical printers and copiers can handle.

The NGP's New Data Page

an example of the data page of the U.S. Next Generation Passport The Next Generation Passport's most noticeable feature is its polycarbonate data page. It feels much more like a passport card or a credit card than the passport book. The plastic data page increases the passport's integrity and durability.

Your passport photo is now laser-engraved in black and white - a major difference compared to the colored photo image of the e-passport. An optically-variable feature is added to the image to make it harder for counterfeiters to make fake passports or alter real ones.

Other New Features of the Next Generation Passport

There are several other noteworthy changes that are part of the Next Generation Passport:

  • Appearance - The NGP is noticably more attractive than older passports. There is now detailed and colorful images of U.S. architecture, culture, history, landscapes, and traditions on the visa pages.

    Similarly, the watermarks and microtext that are used on the Next Generation Passport are more complex than the ones on older passport pages. These types of line work and imagery are another important layer of security against forgeries and copies.

  • Durability - The physical structure of the passport book has been improved, as well. In addition to the polycarbonate data page, the passport binding has been strengthened as well.
  • Number of Pages - The regular e-passport has 28 pages while the larger book has 52 pages. The Next Generation Passport only has 26 pages in the regular book, and 50 pages in the larger book.

    If you travel abroad a lot, be sure to consider how many visa pages your most common destinations require.

  • The Endorsement Page - This special page is reverved for certain pices of information about the passport holder. It cannot be used for travel visa stamps. This page used to be located after the visa pages. This often led travelers to think they had more available pages than they actually did.

    The endorsement page is now the third page of the Next Generation Passport. This keeps all of the most important identifying information together in the front of the passport book.

  • Passport Numbers - The new passport numbers begin with a letter followed by eight numbers. The passport number is printed at the top right corner of the data page and laser-perforated at the bottom of each page of the New Generation Passport.
  • QR Code - There is a QR (Quick Response) code sticker on the back of every Next Generation Passport. When scanned, this links to the U.S. State Department's After I Get My Passport webpage. It does not link to any personal information about the passport holder.

    The sticker can be removed. It will not prevent a passport from being used.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Next Generation Passport

How do I get a Next Generation Passport?

All passport agencies and processing centers have been issuing e-passports since August 2007. The Next Generation Passport has only been issued since 2021.

However, converting every passport office and agency to the latest standard takes time. Passport printers are still gradually getting updates across the U.S.

According to the U.S. State Department, the goal was to have all the passport agencies and centers updated with the latest NGP technology by August 2022. By now, most, if not all, of the passport office upgrades should be complete.

There is still a chance that a new passport or a passport renewal could still have the older, e-passport features. Ultimately, there is nothing you can do to guarantee your next passport is the NGP version.

Do I need the Next Generation Passport in order to travel?

No. If you have a valid, U.S. passport, you can travel abroad.

The current e-passport continues to meet and exceed international security standards. You may continue to use your existing e-passport for overseas travel as long as it meets the entry requirements of your destination.

Does the Next Generation Passport cost more?

No. Just like with the e-passport, there is no additional cost for the Next Generation Passport.

The Next Generation Passport and the previous generation e-passport are the standard passport books offered in the United States. By applying for a new passport or renewing an existing one, you are automatically applying for the Next Generation Passport.

As long as the federal facility processing your application is equipped with the updated NGP printers, you will receive an NGP passport. Otherwise, you will receive the older, e-passport. Both are acceptable forms of travel documentation.

How long is the Next Generation Passport valid for?

The Next Generation Passport is valid for 10 years. This is the same as previous versions of the U.S. passport.

Is the passport card also a Next Generation Passport?

Currently, the Department of State only issues Next Generation Passport books. There are plans to upgrade the passport card to include the NGP's features in the future.

Can I renew my current passport just to get a Next Generation Passport?

Having an older version of the U.S. passport is not a reason to renew it. Unless your passport is lost or damaged, you can continue to use your current passport as long as it has enough validity remaining.

We have spent over 2 decades helping travelers navigate tasks like how to renew a passport and how to get a new passport. Our advice is to renew your passport no later than 9 months before it expires.

A growing number of countries that require at least 6 months of validity remaining on your passport to pass through customs. Since passport renewals can take 3 months (or more) to process, it makes sense to get your renewal application submitted 9-12 months before the expiration date.

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About the Author: For over 20 years, the U.S. Passport Service Guide team has helped hundreds of thousands of travelers with their travel document questions and shared advice about how to make traveling abroad simpler, safer, and more enjoyable.

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