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It’s time to take a peek at your passport to see how many open pages you’ve got left. If it seems like you’re running low on pages but your passport doesn’t expire for awhile, now is the time to act. Starting December 31, 2015, you won’t be able to add pages to your US passport. After this date, if you have no more open passport pages, you must renew your passport. All passports issued after December 31, 2015, will be issued with 52 pages – the jumbo book.
It’s important to note that some countries have certain restrictions and may not allow you to enter if you have less than six months validity remaining on your passport — in this case, renewing your passport is a much better idea. However, if you have several years left, adding pages could be a cheaper and easier option.
The process for adding more pages to your passport is fairly straightforward. You must submit Form DS-4085, your passport and a fee of approximately $82 by mail or at an authorized passport application facility or agency. You can request one or two packets of 24 blank pages to be added for the same price. The form is available to print and fill out by hand (look for the forms section in yellow on the right of the page), or you can fill it out online and then print it.
You can then submit Form DS-4085 by mail to the address on the form. However, if you have upcoming travel plans (within two weeks) or need to obtain a foreign visa (within four weeks), schedule an appointment at an official passport agency and submit your form in person. Typically, the process can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few days, depending if you send your form by snail-mail or expedited mail, or visit an agency in person. (I recently added pages at the US Embassy in Spain and my passport was ready within the hour.)
Another option is to contact our friends at Allied Passport & Visa, who will be accepting orders for more pages until December 18th, 2015. If you do use them, be sure to mention The Points Guy on your Allied order form to receive a $5 discount on your order.
It’s also important to note that you can pay with a credit card (Amex, Visa, MasterCard and Discover) at passport agencies. However, if you’re applying by mail or at an authorized passport application acceptance facility, they typically do not accept cards. If you plan on applying outside of the US at an embassy location, make sure to confirm with that particular embassy if they’ll accept cards or not.
While this may seem like a great opportunity to take advantage of credit cards that offer bonus points on travel, like the Citi ThankYou Premier Card (3x per dollar spent on travel) or the Chase Sapphire Preferred card (2x per dollar spent on travel), passport agencies are often coded as “Services MISC GOVERNMENT SERVICES,” meaning that you most likely won’t get double points if you go through the official agency. However, it’s always worth checking the Merchant Category Code (MCC) ahead of time before any important purchase to confirm — and you can do so with Visa’s Supplier Locator tool. Since MCC codes are standardized across the Visa, MasterCard and American Express platforms, you can use this handy tool no matter what type of card you plan to use.
Whereas the official Passport Agency won’t give you those extra bonus points, Allied Passport & Visa is coded under “Travel Agencies, Tour Operators” — which both the Citi ThankYou Premier and Chase Sapphire treat as travel expenses, meaning you will earn those bonus points by going through them.
Update: A State Department official reached out to provide the following statement:
The U.S. Department of State will no longer add visa pages into U.S. passports beginning January 1, 2016. The decision to discontinue this service was made to enhance the security of the passport and to abide by international passport standards. Requests for additional 24-page visa inserts will only be accepted until December 31, 2015. Beginning January 1, 2016, applicants in need of additional pages in their valid passports must obtain a new passport.
Will you be adding more passport pages? Feel free to comment below. Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.
Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.