On Nov. 20, 2015, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) issued a final rule on the elimination of the visa page insert service within U.S. Passports. Earlier in the year, DOS published a notice of proposed rulemaking that eliminated the visa page insert service for regular fee passport book holders. This rule will become effective on Jan. 1, 2016, and will coincide with the DOS expected issuance of an updated version of the passport book. [80 FR 72591]. The primary reason given for eliminating visa page inserts is to enhance the security of the U.S. Passport, and to abide by international passport standards.
Previously, U.S. Passport holders had the option of paying for the visa page inserts to accommodate their travel needs for entry/exit visa stamps. The DOS explains that, historically, there has been very limited demand for the visa page insert service. Frequent travelers applying from within the U.S. can request a 28-page or 52-page U.S. Passport book. U.S. citizens applying from outside the U.S. will routinely receive 52-page U.S. Passport books.
Additionally, the DOS final rule in the Federal Register provides interesting data relating to U.S. travelers:
- The average U.S. passport holder uses six or fewer visa pages.
- 97 percent of all U.S. passport holders will have used 17 pages or less by the time they renew their U.S. passport.
- Less than one percent of U.S. passport holders will have used more than 32 pages when they renew their passport.
- On average, applicants for visa page inserts for a U.S. passport do so seven years after the passport was issued, and 17 percent of these travelers had the smaller U.S. passport book to start with.
[80 FR 72591, 11/20/2015]