If your passport is filling up but its expiration date is still years away, it’s time to load up on extra pages, stat.
That’s because the United States Department of State plans to stop offering extra page inserts starting on January 1, 2016. The State Department announced its plan to discontinue the 24-page inserts for passport books this past March. The decision comes as the result of increased security measures and the need to comply with international passport standards.
Here’s what to expect once the new rule goes into effect: In lieu of ordering extra pages, travelers who fill up their passport before its expiration will be required to purchase a new passport for $110, reports Travel Pulse.
The silver lining is that anyone ordering a new passport will be able to choose between a book with 28 pages or a book with 52 pages—while the latter option may be bulkier, it’ll save frequent fliers from needing to purchase a new passport quite as often. (Prior to this change, all passports were issued with a standard 28 pages.)
Want to avoid purchasing a new passport? Then request additional pages before December 31 of this year. The 24-page insert will cost you $82. Order before November 30, and the State Department will guarantee you faster processing times than anyone who orders a new passport or pages after that date. (The department’s busiest months are January through August.) For more information on ordering, check out the State Department’s website.
No Other Changes on the Horizon
So far, the cancellation of additional page inserts is the only significant change to passports and passport processing announced by the State Department. Otherwise, the general rules about passports will remain the same:
Passports issued to people over the age of 16 are valid for 10 years, while passports issued to children aged 15 or younger are valid for five years.
If your passport expires before a visa does, you won’t need to purchase a new visa—simply bring your old, stamped passport along with your new one to present at customs.
Some countries require that a passport be valid for at least six months beyond the time of a trip, and some airlines will not let you board if your passport expires within six months. Other countries may require that your passport have at least two blank pages in order for you to enter the country. Review the entry/exit requirements for your destination to learn more.
If your passport has suffered significant damage, you’ll need to apply for a new passport (Note: Normal wear and tear doesn’t qualify as “damage”).
If you have any questions about passports or passport renewal, contact the State Department.
The main takeaway here? If you want to save $28, skip a bunch of paperwork, and avoid another cringe-worthy photo, order some extra passport pages before the end of the year. Otherwise, make your travel plans as usual (and be prepared to buy a new passport once your current one fills up).
NOTE: This article was posted on Hipmunk’s Tailwind blog by The Hipmunk on December 4th.