How Can I Verify a Passport?

Donna Johnson
Donna Johnson
A European passport.
A European passport.

A passport is a government-issued document used for identification, primarily during international travel. Due to border security and identity theft concerns, governments have added security features to these documents so that a valid passport can be distinguished from a fraudulent one. These features may vary by country, but some of the most common ways to verify a passport are to look for biometric chips, holograms, special inks and bar codes.

A passport photo.
A passport photo.

Since August 2007, the US has used electronic passports. To verify a passport of this type, first examine the cover. The background should be dark blue with the Great Seal of the United States in the center and the words "official passport" at the top and "The United States of America" below the seal. At the very bottom is the international biometric chip logo, a solid rectangle broken by a horizontal line and circle around a solid circle in the middle.

United States passports issued since 2007 contain a biometric chip, which can be read and verified by a computer.
United States passports issued since 2007 contain a biometric chip, which can be read and verified by a computer.

Inside a US passport are data, signature and travel pages. The bottom of the data page is machine-readable, and border officials may verify a person's passport by ensuring that the scanned information matches that stored on the biometric chip and printed on the signature and data pages. US passports generally come with 32 travel pages, but citizens may add more for a fee.

Like the US, the UK now issues biometric passports. A real passport issued in the UK features a burgundy cover with the words "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland" at the top, the UK seal in the middle, and the word "passport" and the international biometric chip logo at the bottom. Some UK passports feature the words "European Union" at the very top. The pages contained within are very similar to the US passport pages, except that UK passports contain both English and French.

Canada does not plan to introduce electronic passports until the year 2012. To verify a passport issued in Canada before that time, look for holograms on the information page, color-shifting ink, and photos and information that are printed digitally and cannot be erased. The final feature used to verify a passport from Canada is the so-called "ghost" photo, which is a duplicate of the regular passport picture that can only be seen in ultraviolet light. The cover should be navy blue with "Canada" at the top, the Royal Arms of Canada in the center, and the words "passport/passeport" at the bottom. The interior pages also feature information fields in English and French, just as the cover does.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discussion Comments


How do I check for a valid passport? I have a lady in Ghana who is a doctor with a American passport, and she wants to come and marry me.


I think it's interesting that passports are starting to become more and more advanced. I wonder if they will ever go the way that credit cards seem to be going, and disappear altogether.

Instead of a passport, you would use your cellphone along with a thumbprint or eye scan to prove who you are. They already take eye scans in the United States I believe.

I mean to some extent I think almost anything they do is going to be overcome by anyone who is determined to do so.

You might know how to verify a passport, but passports can always be faked or stolen. To some extent I think, while they should try to protect against these things, they should also not go too far and ruin the convenience for the owner of the passport.


@KoiwiGal - You might not want to wait too long though. Most countries will only let you enter the country if the passport status you are holding expires over six months from the time that your exit ticket says.

It seems quite stupid to me, to be honest and yet another way for them to make more money off you. Maybe one month wouldn't be a problem, but six? It means you might as well reissue each passport six months before it expires, because you sure can't use it to travel anywhere.


I know the New Zealand passport recently changed over to being an electronic one as well. I still have yet to change my passport though. I really should, because it offers advantages. For one thing, they seem to wear a bit better than the old one I have.

For another, I don't know about other countries, but New Zealand has set it up so people with the electronic passport can pass through checkpoints much more quickly.

This is true in Australia and some of the Pacific Islands as well as reentering New Zealand I believe. And the wait to enter New Zealand is terribly long usually, because of the strict bio-security controls they put on people.

I guess I'm just putting it off because it's so expensive to get a new passport and my old one will expire in another year or so anyway.

I might as well wait and get my new one at the last minute.

Post your comments
Forgot password?
    • A European passport.
      By: Hugh O'Neill
      A European passport.
    • A passport photo.
      By: mangostock
      A passport photo.
    • United States passports issued since 2007 contain a biometric chip, which can be read and verified by a computer.
      By: charles taylor
      United States passports issued since 2007 contain a biometric chip, which can be read and verified by a computer.