Things You Might Not Know About The US Passport

US Passport

We all know a passport is a form of identification that also allows you to travel around the world. For traveling the world without any trouble apply for your passport at But did you know just how much your US passport can do? Do you know how strong the US passport is? What even is passport strength?

Here are seven facts about the US passport you might not know before, so read on and make sure you’re well-equipped with the knowledge of the rights you hold with a US passport.

There are two forms of the passport

When you think about passports, you probably think about those booklets. Well, the US passport comes in two forms: the booklet and the card.

The card allows international travel, but only to countries that share a land or sea border with the US. And that is already plenty, actually: Canada, Mexico, and some Caribbean countries can be entered by US passport cardholders.

There are several types of the US passport

You might be most familiar with the regular passport with the dark blue cover. This is the passport that most US passport holders have, as it is issuable to all citizens and non-citizen nationals (we will get back to this term later).

There are also other types, among which are ones issued to people whose work relates to the US government. There’s the gray service passport, issued to “certain non-personal services contractors who travel abroad in support of and according to a contract with the U.S. government”, but their relationship with the government does not justify an official or diplomatic passport. 

Then there’s the maroon official passport, issued to citizen-employees of the US governments to work overseas, whether permanently or temporarily. There’s also the black diplomatic passport, which, of course, is issued to American diplomats.

The US also issues passports (or travel documents) to refugees settled in the US, which have a blue-green cover. Permanent residents, including stateless ones, can also have a re-entry permit issued to them as a travel document. Then, for citizens overseas without a passport (for example, due to loss or damage), the US government issues emergency passports under urgent instances.

Given not just to citizens, but also to nationals

There are several differences between a US citizen and a US national, but to put it simply: every citizen is a national, but not every national is a citizen. An example is American nationals born in American Samoa, who are not granted US citizenship by birth.

The US passport also can serve to certify the status of a non-citizen national, as stated in the passport book: “The bearer is a United States national and not a United States citizen”.

Different forms needed to apply

Depending on your status and what you need to do, there are different forms you need to fill out to apply for a US passport. If you’re applying for the first time, apply with the DS-11 form. To renew, use the DS-82. If you lost yours and need to replace it, use the DS-64.

Required documents

Besides the application form, the documents needed to apply are a valid state photo ID, your birth certificate or naturalization certificate, and a 2×2 inch photo for your passport. There are parameters your passport photo has to fulfill, such as size, the proportion of head in respect to the whole picture, as well as contrast and lighting.

US passport strength

Passport strength indicates how many countries you can enter with a passport without needing a visa, or simply needing a visa on arrival or an electronic travel authority.

According to the Henley Passport Index, the US passport ranks as the sixth strongest passport in the world in 2022. With a US passport, you can enter 186 countries visa-free. That includes the Schengen area in Europe, which includes all members of the European Union, plus Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein.

With just the passport, you can also enter most of the Caribbean, should you fancy a holiday gazing over clear Caribbean seas. And of course, the passport opens you up to countries in Asia, the Americas, Africa, and Oceania.

Dual citizenship

The United States allows dual citizenship and therefore for its citizens to hold a foreign passport besides the US passport. However, US citizens must use their US passports when leaving or entering the country.


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