For frequent travelers, there’s nothing more impressive than a well-stamped passport, with every page filled with multicolored inks, dates and destinations. But if you’re down to your last blank page, you probably want to add “request new visa insert” to your December to-do list. As of January 1, 2016, the U.S. State Department will no longer issue additional passport pages due to its own security concerns.
After that date, passport holders who have run out of blank visa pages will have to apply for a completely new passport at a cost of $110, and they may request either the standard 28-page passport or a new supersized 52-page version. Though, yes, you still have until December 31 to apply for your last 24-page visa insert.
In a statement, the State Department said:
“The decision to discontinue this service was made to enhance the security of the passport and to abide by international passport standards.”
The statement was an update to the State Department’s original announcement back in March that it was considering the new rule to eliminate the option of adding visa pages. Well, it only took eight months for the department to officially make up its mind, but now we know for sure. And thankfully we were given a little notice before we reach the deadline — so thumb through your own passport to see how many pages you have left, because you don’t have long to add extras.
Some countries will not allow travelers to enter unless they have two (or even four) blank visa pages (you can review your destination’s entry and exit requirements on the State Department’s Country Information page).
According to the most recent update on the State Department’s passport processing page, it will take between 4-6 weeks for you to receive your new passport. If you need to have that little blue book sooner, you may pay an additional $60 for expedited processing (in addition to paying for two-way Express Delivery, if you don’t apply in person) and you should receive your new passport within three weeks. And if you’re really in a bind, remember, you might just be eligible to get a second passport.