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No Selfies Allowed, Plus 10 More Passport Fun Facts

SmarterTravel

There’s no need to go to a photo shop or your local 24-hour pharmacy to get your passport photos made. You are allowed to take them at home. But don’t take a selfie — or at least don’t make it obviously a selfie — because your U.S. passport application could be denied.

Here are 10 other interesting facts about U.S. passports:

1. U.S. passports are made with a whopping 60 different materials provided by 16 different vendors. The assembly process is considered top secret, according to this fascinating Gizmodo article.

2. Benjamin Franklin whipped up a makeshift passport on his own printing press for a former Continental Congressman to travel freely in Europe in 1780. The document was considered one of the first recorded U.S. passports, according to Smithsonian.com.

3. In 2016 the U.S. Department of State issued 18.7 million passports. That’s more than three times higher than the number issued just two decades earlier.

4. The United States was the first country to issue machine-readable passports, in 1981.

5. U.S. citizens are required to use U.S. passports when entering the country, even if they hold dual citizenship.

6. Last year there were 131.8 million valid passports in circulation, according to the State Department. However, 18 million of them are set to expire this year, which is about 4 million more than last year, according to the Sun Sentinel. That’s because in 2007, the U.S. government made it a requirement to have a passport to fly or drive to any international destination. Previously, you could go to such spots as the Caribbean or Mexico without one.

7. Does the president need to travel with a passport? Yes, according to Slate, but he travels with a black diplomatic passport — one of three types of passports the U.S. government issues (the others are the blue tourist passport and “official” maroon passports, typically used by the military).

8. If you’ve gotten extreme plastic surgery, tattooed your face, or lost or gained a significant amount of weight, you could be required to get a new passport.

9. The U.S. passport is tied for third (along with six European countries) as the most powerful passport in the world, according to PassportIndex.org. It allows access to 156 countries without a visa; Germany leads with 158 countries.

10. Among the things you shouldn’t wear when having your passport photo taken: Eyeglasses, headphones, hats, temporary tattoos and uniforms of any sort. Unacceptable photos are the No. 1 reason passport applications are denied, according to the State Department.

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