The Surprising Story Behind the US Passport Font

If you’ve ever looked at a US passport, you might have noticed something curious about the font used for the text. Unlike the standard fonts you see every day on your computer, there’s something unique about this one. In this article, we’ll explore the history of the US passport font, from its origins to how it is used today. You might be surprised by what you learn.

Key Takeaways

  • The US passport font is officially known as “U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE” and was designed in the 1990s.
  • The font is unique because it was created using a fragmented system of letters and symbols to enhance security and prevent counterfeiting.
  • The font has evolved over time to include a new digitized version that is machine-readable and can quickly identify travelers at airports.
  • The use of the font has expanded beyond passports into other official government documents.

The Origin Story of the US Passport Font

The US passport font came about through a collaboration between the US Department of State and graphic designer Irvin Paul Gitlis in the early 1990s. The goal was to create a font that was exclusively used for passports to enhance security and make them more difficult to counterfeit.

Gitlis approached the project with a unique perspective, utilizing fragmented letters and symbols from various sources to create a font that was difficult to reproduce. The result was the official US passport font, officially known as “U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE” and often called “Passport font.”

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The Font’s Role in Enhancing Security

The fragmented system used to create the US passport font was the key to enhancing security measures. Traditional fonts, like Times New Roman or Arial, have recognizable patterns and consistency that can be easily copied. The US passport font’s use of randomly placed symbols and letters makes it difficult to reproduce, ensuring each passport is unique.

Moreover, the font itself contains security features. The US passport font is a typeface traditionally used for the United States passport. This “Passport font” is a slab-serif typeface that was designed by the U.S. Department of State specifically for use in its official communications, including passports.

Evolution of the US Passport Font

The US passport font has gone through several advancements over the years. In 2004, the font was digitalized to include new machine-readable qualities. These qualities were meant to quickly identify travelers at airports, enhancing security measures further.

Today, the font has expanded into other official government documents beyond passports, including visas, social security cards, and other forms of identification.


The US passport font is a testament to design’s power when it comes to security against counterfeiting. While we may take it for granted, the unique design of the font has helped to prevent forgery and enhance security measures, and its influence has expanded past just the passport. It is a prime example of how design can play an essential role in enhancing security in everyday life.

Useful FAQ

What is the official US passport font called?

The official US passport font is called “U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE” and is a slab-serif typeface designed to be difficult to reproduce.

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What makes the US passport font unique?

The font used in US passports is unique because it uses a fragmented system of letters and symbols, making it challenging to counterfeit.

Why was the US passport font created?

The font was created to enhance security and make it harder to counterfeit US passports. Its design is exclusive to passports and other official government documents.

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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