If you currently have a passport, you may notice that it contains an electronic chip (which is why it’s called an ePassport). The chip carries the same information that’s printed on your passport’s data page, such as your name, birth date, and other biographic information. It also contains a biometric identifier. The present passports have security features that prevent unauthorized “skimming” of the information stored on the chip but, of course, technology is everchanging.
Although it sometimes feels like the U.S. State Department is moving at a snail’s pace, it is SSLLOOWWLLYY catching up with today’s technology (as opposed to that of a decade ago). With that, the next time you need to get a new passport, you may see that it’s pretty different from the one you have right now.
In March 2021, the United States government began introducing what you could call the next generation of passports. Actually, as creative as the State Department is, that’s exactly what they’re calling it: the Next Generation Passport (NGP) ;-). Not only does it look different from the passport you’re used to, but it will also have some new and unique features throughout that will help to keep you safe while traveling.
PC: U.S. State Department
According to the State Dep’t, the NGP is a whole new redesign of the old passport in terms of look, feel, and security. It’s designed to keep your personal information safer and will make you less susceptible to becoming a victim of counterfeiting and identity theft.
New security features of the NGP include:
- Polycarbonate data page
- Perforated alphanumeric passport number (a letter followed by 8 numbers)
- Updated artwork
- Laser engraved personalization
- Black and white photo image
- Multi-layered plastic data page
PC: U.S. State Department
One change that’s not so great for those who do a lot of international travel is that the number of pages in the passport has decreased slightly. The typical U.S. passport that’s been in use for the past several years has had 28 pages in the regular-sized book and 52 pages in the larger book. The NGP will have 26 and 50 pages, respectively.
The State Dep’t has been transitioning the NGP to becoming the main form of U.S. passports but, not surprisingly, it’s been a SSLLOOWW process. According to their website, the old passport printers at the passport agencies and passport centers are slowly being replaced with NGP printers. So slowly in fact, that if you apply for your next passport this year, there’s no guarantee you’ll get an NGP; it may be the same style of ePassport that you have now. However, they say they’re on track to offer the NGP nationwide by the end of 2022
Fortunately, whether you have an ePassport or an NGP, they’ll both be valid forms of I.D. for travel (so will your current passport card) until all the passport printers have been replaced and everyone who wants a passport has been issued an NPG.
For more info about the Next Generation Passport, check out this page of the U.S. State Dep’t.
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