Oct. 1, 2015
If your U.S. passport is low on blank pages, you may want to order extra pages before the end of the year, or risk jeopardizing many of the visas in your current passport.
After Dec. 18, the U.S. Department of State will no longer accept applications to add passport pages. Beginning in 2016, you can only be issued a new passport when your pages are full of visa and entry/exit stamps – and some countries will not honor their visa if it is in an old, cancelled passport.
The use of still-current visas with old passports varies by country.
“If you just got a one-year or three-year Russia visa, and you get a new passport, you’re out of luck. You have to get a new Russia visa,” explained Janet Vrasic, director of corporate relations for G3 Global Services, which provides customized visa and passport support.
In Australia, that country’s visa-equivalent electronic travel authority (ETA) is not transferable: “You must get a new ETA for the new passport,” Vrasic said.
For India, you could carry the old passport with the valid India visa, together with the new passport. However, Indian officials prefer that you transfer the visa (for a fee and requiring at least a couple of weeks for processing) or apply for a new visa for the new passport.
In Brazil, China and Suriname, longer-duration visas remain valid, but both the old and new passport must be carried together.
For Argentina, if the $160 reciprocity fee was paid after 2013 (valid for 10 years), travelers may carry both passports, along with the reciprocity-fee receipt.
Many countries will not accept passports that expire in less than six months. And some countries, such as South Africa, require at least two or more blank, facing pages in the book.
Vrasic also recommends that business aircraft pilots secure second valid passports, which are good for two years. “A second valid passport is straightforward to obtain, and it gives the crew member additional flexibility,” she said.
The U.S. State Department is expecting a surge of passport renewals in the next couple of years. Ten years ago, passport applications peaked at more than 18 million when the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative began requiring all travelers to show a valid passport when arriving from Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. Those 2007-issued passports will be expiring in 2017.
As of the end of 2014, more than 121 million U.S. passports were in circulation, representing about 37 percent of the American population. Passport agencies expect that new passports issued in 2016 will be available with the standard 28 pages (with 17 blank pages) or, by request, 52 pages, 41 of which would be blank for visas and entry/exit stamps.