Everything You Need to Know About Passport Numbers

Passport numbers are a critical component of international travel, serving as a unique identifier for each passport holder. In this article, we will explore the history, purpose, types, and security measures of passport numbers.

History of Passport Numbers

Passport numbers have existed since the early 20th century, with the first standardized passport issued by the League of Nations in 1920. Initially, passport numbers were simply handwritten on the passport cover, but with the advent of computer technology, they evolved into a string of alphanumeric characters.

Purpose of Passport Numbers

Passport numbers serve several purposes, including identification, verification, and tracking. They help immigration authorities to confirm the authenticity of the passport, track entry and exit records, and identify the passport holder in case of loss or theft.

Types of Passport Numbers

There are several types of passport numbers used around the world, with variations in length and format. The most common format is a combination of letters and numbers, with some countries also using special characters.

The United States passport number, for instance, consists of nine digits, while the United Kingdom uses a combination of digits and letters. Meanwhile, the Australian passport number comprises of one letter followed by six numbers and a final letter.

Assignment of Passport Numbers

Passport numbers are typically assigned by governmental agencies responsible for issuing passports. The assignment process varies by country, but it generally involves generating a unique number that identifies the passport holder.

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Security Measures

Passports contain several security features to protect against counterfeiting and identity theft. The passport number is printed digitally and includes a machine-readable zone (MRZ) that can be read by scanners to verify its authenticity.

In addition to MRZ, some passports also include biometric information, such as the holder’s fingerprints, iris scan, and facial recognition data.

Key Takeaways

  • Passport numbers are a unique identifier for passports issued to passport holders
  • They serve for a variety of purposes including identification, verification, and tracking.
  • There are several types of passport numbers used globally.
  • The assignment process of passport numbers varies by country.
  • Passports contain several security features such as MRZs, and biometric identification.


Passport numbers are an essential component of international travel, serving as proof of identity and facilitating the tracking of travel records. Understanding the different types of passport numbers and the security features that guard against criminal activities is crucial to taking action in case of any issue.


1. How are passport numbers assigned?Passport numbers are assigned by the governmental agency responsible for issuing passports, in a unique serial number fashion.

2. Can passport numbers be changed?Yes, in some rare cases, passport numbers can be changed. This usually occurs in situations where a passport has been lost or stolen.

3. Can someone steal my identity using my passport number?It is unlikely but possible. Passport numbers in combination with other personal information can be used to steal a person’s identity or commit fraud.

About the Author

Clifford Thompson

Clifford is a 33-year-old Asian-American travel blogger based in Seattle, Washington. He has a degree in computer science and has traveled to over 30 countries across six continents. Clifford is experienced in navigating the visa and passport application process and shares his knowledge and insights on the blog. His articles are informative and engaging, providing readers with practical advice and recommendations for international travel.

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