A passport is an official travel document issued by a nation to its citizens. Passports are generally required for travel outside one's home country, though in certain cases, countries with close geographical or political ties may not require passport cards of certain travelers. A U.S. passport is issued by the U.S. Department of State and contains basic identifying information about an individual and additional travel information such as immigration stamps and visas. Apart from a birth certificate or social security card, a U.S. passport card is the best proof of being a U.S. citizen and showcase of U.S. citizenship.

Basic Information

Passports contain basic identifying information from the gov., including surname and given names, date of birth, type of document, document code or passport number, nationality, place of birth, sex, date of passport issuance and the passport expiration date. There is a passport fee that can be paid with a money order or credit card as well. If you want a name change for your passport, you have to have that approved too.

Often a passport's expiration date must be several weeks or even months after the extended return date from a foreign country; countries want to ensure that they do not have people staying in them with invalid passports and may limit international travel if your passport book is about to expire, so be sure to get a new passport before traveling to avoid this if yours is expiring soon.


As with a driver's license, a passport is an official form of photo identification. State departments require that a picture must be included with a passport application that is copied next to the basic information cited in section one. A good, clean photograph is important for a valid passport, since immigration officers and other officials are likely to check the passport picture to visually match it up with the passport holder as a proof of identity. Sometimes additional passport photos are required by certain countries; these are stapled to immigration and customs pages in the passport.

Security Measures

U.S. passports contain a variety of security measures to prevent copies and forgeries. The security measures used are similar to those used in other forms of identification of paper bills, such as intricate background patterns, watermarks and holographic images and seals. The material of the passport itself is also not standard paper, but more like cloth, and the information pages are laminated. Some countries also have e-passports or electronic passports that contain an biometric electronic chip that is machine readable as an extra layer of protection for passport services.


When traveling to certain foreign countries, an additional permission or supporting documentation from those countries' consulates or embassies may be required to gain permission to travel. These official stamps or stickers are called visas, and are usually placed on one of the appropriate pages of the passport as an extra data page. Visas usually have a set duration that allows the traveler to stay in the foreign nation for a certain period of time before having to leave or renew the visa. Keep in mind that there are different processing times to receive a certified copy of these visas and the U.S. government acceptance facilities have to approve them, along with the department of homeland security for the other country where you are trying to travel. Sometimes there’s an application fee

Immigration and Customs Stamps

Another important set of information contained in a U.S. passport is a log of all the places a person has passed through immigration and customs. Passports contain several pages dedicated to official arrivals and departures from foreign nations and ports-of-entry. The stamps cite the date and place the person arrived in or departed from the nation, which helps immigration officers keep track of travelers and look into suspicious travel history.