Your passport number is often required for international flight itineraries and airline tickets. But what is the purpose of your passport number? Can someone steal your identity if they have your passport number? We will go over all the info you need to know about the passport number.
Your U.S. passport is proof of U.S. citizenship and therefore is considered a vital document. The passport number is specific to your passport and will change with each passport you receive, including renewals, replacement passports, and passport updates.
What is a passport number?
Passports issued in the United States of America are all computer generated. Your passport number is a nine digit number that identifies the issuing passport office as well as your unique series of numbers that connect to your passport application. You can find the passport number on the first page of your passport near your passport photo and other identifying information. We will explain what the passport numbers mean in the next section.
U.S. Passports Issued: 1981-Current
The Social Security Administration once published this guide to understanding the passport number. This guide will go over the passport numbers and passports formats.
|Issuing Office||Initial Two Digits||Remarks|
|Washington Passport Agency||01|
|Chicago Passport Agency||02|
|Los Angeles Passport Agency||03; 50||Exhausted the 03 series barcode number and began using the 50 series barcode number in 02/2006|
|Miami Passport Office||04|
|San Francisco Passport Agency||05|
|Northeast Passport Processing Center (located in New York City)||06||Closed in 02/1994|
|Seattle Passport Agency||07|
|New Orleans Passport Agency||08;40||Exhausted the 08 series barcode number and began using the 40 series barcode number in 04/ 2001|
|Philadelphia Passport Agency||09|
|Boston Passport Agency||10||Began operating 08/31/87|
|New York Passport Agency||11|
|Honolulu Passport Agency||12; 60(no-fee Military Dependent)||Began using the 60 series barcode numbers in 02/2002|
|Houston Passport Agency||13|
|Connecticut Passport Agency||14||The Stamford Passport Office issued passports using the 14 series barcode number. It moved to Norwalk, CT on 09/24/01 and was renamed the Connecticut Passport Agency|
|National Passport Center||15; 20; 21||Exhausted the 15 series barcode number and began using the 20 series barcode number in early 1999 |
Exhausted the 20 series barcode number and began using the 21 series barcode number in 2004
|Special Issuance Agency||16; 60 (no-fee military dependent); 80 (Official); 90 (Diplomatic)||Began using the 60 series barcode number for no-fee military dependent passports in 08/2001|
|Colorado Passport Agency||17||Began operating in 2005|
|Charleston Passport Center||30||Began operation in 04/2000|
Additional Passport Information
Every U.S. passport has a signature page and a data page. The data page is where you will find your passport number and the other passport related information including:
- Type [of document, which is “P” for “personal”]
- Code [of the issuing country, which is “USA” for “United States of America”]
- Passport No.
- Given Name(s)
- Date of Birth
- Place of Birth (lists the state/territory followed by “U.S.A.” for those born in the United States; lists the current name of the country of birth for those born abroad)
- Date of Issue
- Date of Expiration
At the bottom of this page is a section that is machine-readable. It contains the following information:
- P<USA[SURNAME]<<[GIVEN NAME(S)]<<<<<<<<<< in the first line and
- [PASSPORT NO. + 1 DIGIT]USA[DATE OF BIRTH + 1 DIGIT + SEX + DATE OF EXPIRATION + 10 DIGITS]<[6 DIGITS] in the second line.
- Both lines contain 44 characters in a fixed-width all-caps font, with the top line ending with enough left angle brackets to fill the 44 character limit.
Remember that a passport is not valid until it is signed by the passport holder. If a holder is a child or is unable to sign their passport, the person who has legal authority to sign on the holder’s behalf should sign and print their own name.
Biometric Passport Information
Biometric passport data is now common throughout most of the world. The electronic chip in the back cover of a U.S. passport stores an image of the photograph of the passport holder, passport data, and personal data of the passport holder; and has capacity to store additional data. The data in a passport chip is able to be scanned by electronic readers,. For security purposes, the passport cover contains a radio-frequency shield in the form of a wire mesh within the cover, so the cover must be opened for the data to be read.
Additional Passport Number Info
If your passport doesn’t have 9 numbers or your passport was issued under non-typical circumstances, you may find more info about your passport number within the following sections.
U.S. Passports Issued In After 1959
Notice that you only have 6, 7, or 8 passport numbers? Your passport was likely issued between 1960 and 1981. During those years, passport numbers were six to eight digits and were preceded by a letter. Generally, the letter would correspond to the year of issuance. You can see from the chart below:
- “A”—1960, 1970, 1980
- “B”—1961, 1971, 1981
- “C”—1962, 1972, 1982
- “D”—1963, 1973, 1983
- “E”—1964, 1974, 1984
- “F”—1965, 1975, 1985
- “G”—1966, 1976, 1986
- “H”—1967, 1977, 1987
- (“I” was not used.)
- “J”—1968, 1978, 1988
- “K”—1969, 1979, 1989
By 1980, most of the passports issued in the U.S. were computer generated. Passports numbers preceded by “X” were issued to people with diplomatic status. Numbers preceded by “Y” were issued to people on official business.
U.S. Passports Issued After March 2002 By Domestic Passport Facilities for Overseas Posts
In April 2002, the National Passport Center began printing passports for most routine passport applications that were approved overseas. In September 2003, overseas posts began electronically transmitting routine approved passport applications to the Charleston Passport Center and the National Passport Center for the printing of their passports.
The “71” series is used for all of these passports.
U.S. Passports Issued After 1959 Outside the Country
Passports issued by U.S. diplomatic offices to U.S. citizens show a six to eight digit number preceded by a letter as follows:
- “Y” Passports
- 1960 to 09/15/74 – Issued to citizens on official business.
- 09/15/74 through 06/1984 – Issued in Panama only to citizens on official business.
- “Z” Passports
- 1960 to 04/07/02 – Issued to citizens not on official business as full validity passports.
- 04/08/02 to present – Issued to citizens not on official business as emergency passports with a maximum validity of one year
- “70” series Passports
- 1989 to 04/07/02 – Issued to citizens not on official business as full validity passports.NOTE: London began issuing these passports in 1988.
- 04/08/02 to present – Issued to citizens not on official business as emergency passports with a maximum validity of one year.
U.S. Passports Issued Prior to 1960
These showed a six or seven digit number; no letters were used.
RS 02640.050 – Passports as Evidence – 08/09/2006
Batch run: 01/27/2009