How Passports Work

A visa page on the new e-passport

Photo courtesy of the U.S. State Department

Inside a Passport

There are 24 pages and two page types in a U.S. passport:

  • Fifteen pages that can be stamped with entry and departure dates and information. In addition, these pages are also used for visas.
  • Three pages for amendments and endorsements (This is where, for example, a name-change amendment, filed on Form DSP-19, might be documented.)

The other pages in your passport include the photo page (sorry, these don't usually look much better than driver's license photos) that bears your nine-digit passport number, effective dates and an official government stamp. There are also pages listing passport laws, what to do if your passport is lost or stolen, an emergency contact page and a statement from the U.S. Secretary of State requesting that the bearer be allowed to "pass without delay or hindrance and in case of need, to give all lawful aid and protection." This protective statement outlines an important function of the passport -- it lets you and anyone else who reads it know that you, as a U.S. citizen, have rights and are under the protection of the U.S. government. (This doesn't mean you don't have to obey foreign laws! But if you have problems on a trip, you can call the U.S. Embassy office in that country for assistance.)