How Can You Identify an Official Government Passport?


Quick Answer

Identify an official government passport issued by the United States by the cover of the passport booklet and by the period of validity. Other features that distinguish genuine passports from forgeries include the presence of security features and machine-readable text. Members of Congress who travel abroad on official government business and military personnel stationed overseas are eligible for official passports.

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Full Answer

Citizens who are employees of the federal government and who are assigned overseas on either a temporary or permanent basis, as well as their dependents, are also eligible for official passports. Official passports are easily identifiable by the reddish-brown color of the cover of the passport booklet. Standard passports have navy blue covers and the covers of diplomatic passports are black. The word “Official” appears in capital letters on the line above “Passport” and is in a smaller typeface. Official passports are normally valid for a period of five years from the date of issue. Standard passports normally have a validity period of 10 years.

Security features such as paper stock containing watermarks, security threads, holograms and ink that is visible only under ultraviolet light may help distinguish a genuine official passport from a forgery. Authentic passports also have lines of machine-readable text containing information such as the holder’s name and date of birth, along with check digits and special typographic characters. A passport may also have an electronic radio frequency identification chip containing biometric data of the individual holding the passport.

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