U.S. Government To Stop Adding Visa Pages To Passports In 2016

running-out-timeThe US Department of State has recently announced that it will stop adding visa pages to current US passports starting on January 1, 2016. This bold measure is being done in the name of security. Under previous rules and regulations, passport holders in the US could buy up to 24 additional visa pages.  That is if they ran out of space for the necessary stamps for traveling.

This move has a number of interesting implications, particularly for heavy travelers like certain members of the business community. Luckily, certain other changes seem to have preemptively lessened the impact. The impact that some will feel as a result of this decision. As recently as October 2014, for example, the government had begun to offer new 52-page passports. This will be an alternative to the standard 28-page passport books. Frequent travelers will still be able to apply for these 52-page books. This will help to buy some much-needed time before a brand new passport is necessary.

When purchasing a 52-page passport book, 43 full pages are reserved for necessary entry and exit stamps. This is contrary to the 28-page books, which only reserves space on 17 pages for these stamps. A standard requirement in many countries is that a passport book contains at least two blank pages at all times. This may still pose a challenge for people who travel frequently for both business and pleasure, moving forward.

The Department of State has indicated that it will continue to accept and process applications for up to 24 additional visa pages. It will do so through the end of the calendar year 2015. As soon as the January 1 date rolls around, however, travelers must purchase new passports by mail. They could do so as soon as they run out of enough space for their required stamps.

If a person finds that their passport book does not currently have enough space to meet requirements, there are a few steps they can take. Passport expediting services exist in many areas of the country. This service can get a brand new passport book in a person’s hand in as little as 24 to 48 hours, in many circumstances. These services collect all information from a traveler for a new passport and submit it to the appropriate agency on their behalf, cutting down on the normal processing time of six to eight weeks or more dramatically in the process.