US ePassport – 146 million Americans hold a biometric passport in 2019

US Government Passport

As of August 2007, all passports issued by the Government Publishing Office for the United States Department of State are biometric passports.


  • Over 146 million valid U.S. biometric passports were in circulation in 2019.
  • 45% of the U.S. population holds a passport in 2019 compared to 4% in 1990 and 15% in 1997.
  • In 2018, the State Department issued 21 million ePassports.


US ePassport  Is my US passport an electronic one? Yes, the e-passport symbol printed at the bottom of the front page indicates that the US passport contains an electronic chip.  They were first issued in 2006​. 

US electronic passport: 2019 facts and figures

  • You can travel to 116 nations without a visa (2019). It's a highly secure travel document, a key government-issued photo identification document (ID) and your best proof of U.S. citizenship. 
  • As of January 2020, the U.S. Department website​ is reporting passport processing times of approximately six to eight weeks. Expedited passports take about three weeks but cost an extra $60 to process. 
  • ​The passport fee for a new adult document​ is $145 starting April 2, 2018, for standard processing and standard delivery, and renewal costs $110. 
  • The U.S. passport is valid for 10 years for citizens of 16 or older when the passport was issued. For citizens of 15 or younger when your passport was issued, validity is 5 years only.

Increasing number of U.S. passports

The authorities have issued:

  • 18,676,547​ new passports for 2016, 
  • 21,378,994 for 2017
  • 21,103,475 (including 2,812,691 passport cards) for 2018.

Why is that?

A lot of passports issued in 2007 were up for renewal. 

At that time, the US Government requested its citizens to have a valid passport to visit Mexico, Canada, and the Caribbean. With a 10-year validity, this brought us to a new wave of renewals for 2017.

The US passport does not use nor display your social security number. The number on the passport is a totally different number that, of course, cannot be used as an SSN.

US passport picture requirements

The photo is critical to the usability and security of the US passport. 

The photograph will be accepted if it complies with photo guidelines.
Check out, in this video of March 2019, the current U.S. passport picture requirements that need to be met to obtain a passport.

Discover now 10 cool ​facts about the US passport


​What happens at border control with a US passport? ​

The micro-controller included in the U.S. passport represents a highly secure feature in itself. 

In the case that a counterfeiter successfully manages to change the portrait and citizen information on the data page, the data in the chip cannot be accessed and altered.


Any tampering attempt can be detected since the altered data will not compute correctly, as it has not been signed and authorized by the Issuing Authority.​​ 

The following steps describe the typical semi-automatic verification by a Border Control Officer, to explain the exchange of information and the security mechanisms at work. 

The processes for electronic gates or mobile terminals are similar.

Infographic: What happens at passport control?

(Click to enlarge the infographic)

  1. The traveller arrives at the control point and presents the passport.
  2. ​The officer swipes the data page through a special reader to read the two lines of printed characters (known as Machine Readable Zone or MRZ) on the bottom of the data page.
    This allows the generation of a session key to access the microcontroller and read the data stored in it, using the Basic Access Control (BAC) mechanism defined by the ICAO. This guarantees security as it requires access to the passport to be able to read the chip and thus prevents eavesdropping.
  3. The officer holds the passport over another reader, that uses a contactless protocol, to read the micro-controller. The information is then displayed on the monitor, along with the picture. The officer can check that the information stored in the micro-controller and printed on the data page is the same. 
  4. The chip has been signed by the Issuing Authority's ​certificate. The system can automatically check the validity of the certificate by accessing the Public Key Directory managed by ICAO which handles the certificate exchange between participating countries.
  5. Several automated checks can take place:  Search in Interpol's Lost & Stolen Travel document watch list, to check if the document is listed there, as part of an identity theft attempt to illegally enter the country;  Search in the databases of the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Foreign Affairs databases according to Customs and Border Protection procedures put in place , to track fugitives or people deported in the past.​​

Where do we fit in?


Gemalto is the proud partner of the US government for ePassports, Department of Defense for military CAC cards, and state DMVs for secure IDs. 

More specifically, Gemalto is one of only two vendors to be selected after a rigorous selection process for the supply of theUS ePassport program.​​

In August 2012, the GPO, responsible for supplying the US Department of State with ePassports​, has awarded Gemalto with a second consecutive five-year contract.

Gemalto first partnered with GPO in 2006 following stringent evaluations to meet agency requirements. Gemalto is to supply its latest ICAO-compliant electronic covers as well as support for the lifetime of the agreement. 

Where to contact us in the United States

Gemalto Inc (Austin)
Arboretum Plaza II
9442 Capital of Texas Highway North, Suite 100
78759 Austin, TX - USA
​​Phone: +1 512 257 3900 or 888 343 5773
Open Google maps

Enterprise Security & Software Monetization Sales - AMERICAS
4690 Millennium Drive
 Belcamp, MD
Phone: +1 410 931 7500
Open Google maps

MIDS (Headquarter)
2914 Independence Drive
 Fort Wayne, IN
Open Google maps

Gemalto SA (Shoreline Business Solutions)
275 Circuit Drive
 North Kingstown, RI
Open Google maps

Gemalto Atlanta (formerly Source One)
1800 Northeast Expy NE
 Atlanta, GA
Phone: 1 (888) 874-7488
Open Google maps

Gemalto M2M
310 120th Avenue NE
Unit A/100
 Bellevue, WA
Open Google maps

Gemalto Inc (Montgomeryville)
101 Park Drive
 Montgomeryville, PA
Phone: +1 215 390 2000
Open Google maps

Castle & Cook Aviation Building
155 Kapalulu Place
 Honolulu, HI
Open Google maps

Gemalto (Jacksonville)
7357 Digital Circle
 Jacksonville, FL
Open Google maps

Safenet (Redwood)
2200 Bridge Parkway
Redwood City
 Redwood, CA
Open Google maps

Safenet (Tewksbury)
One highwood drive
Highwood Office Park
 Tewksbury, MA
Open Google maps

Safenet (Abington)
3465 Box Hill Corporate Center Drive
 Abingdon, MD
Open Google maps

Safenet (Arlington Heights)
601C Campus Drive
Arlington Ridge Service Center

Arlington Heights, IL
Open Google maps

Press Release

Read our Press Release