Americans needing to renew their passports or those getting one for the first time will get a document with a brand new look.
The U.S. State Department has been rolling out what they call Next Generation Passports. A few were issued in 2021, but they shortly will be the only ones available for international travelers.
The passports look similar to the current style, which has been around since the early 2000s. The most noticeable change is on the data page, where the current color photo is being replaced with a laser-engraved black-and-white image.
Visa pages have also been updated with detailed linework and ink colors that showcase imagery of U.S. architecture, history, culture, landscapes, and traditions.
They will also include a new number. As opposed to the current nine-digit passport number, new IDs will be alphanumeric, each starting with a letter followed by eight digits.
The number will also be included at the bottom of every page in the book.
“The new passport is a modernized U.S. passport book which we started issuing in 2021,” the State Department said in explaining the change. “While our previous electronic passports (ePassports) are secure, the Next Generation Passport book (NGP) uses new technologies to produce a more robust passport with enhanced security features, such as a polycarbonate data page, laser-engraved personalization, and updated artwork.”
Despite the change — particularly in the vitally important passport number — current passport holders do not need to request a new passport. Current passports, which in general are good for 10 years, will remain in effect until the holder’s expiration date arrives. At the time of renewal, they will get a New Generation Passport with the new number.
Although many of the new passports have been rolled out already, some travelers requesting or needing new passports are continuing to get the old style. It won’t be until late 2022 or early 2023 when the New Generation Passports will be the only ones available.
For that reason, holders cannot request a New Generation Passport yet.
Currently, the New Generation Passport is available in book from only. The State Department expects to offer the new look for passport cards in the near future.