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I'm travelling soon but need to renew my passport.

Given that I have to provide my passport number to the airline to book a flight, I was wondering if my passport number would change if I renew it.

Or would the number stay the same and the expiry date just change?

I'm asking specifically as an Australian citizen, although I suspect a 'common' answer (if there is a general way this works) might be useful too.

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    Yes the number will change. It's a new identity number with it's own unique identifier i.e. the passport number. – JoErNanO May 31 '16 at 10:34
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    With regard to the airline, it doesn't matter that your passport number has changed. They'll get the new number when you check in. – phoog May 31 '16 at 14:22
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    @phoog It's standard practice these days to require passport or similar information up front, for immigration and security checks. If you turn up with a different passport than you provided details for, it's likely to be flagged by computer systems and lead to delays. – IMSoP May 31 '16 at 15:07
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    @IMSoP Your first sentence is quite true. Your second sentence is not. I routinely check in for flights using a different passport than the one I used to book, and there's never been the slightest confusion nor as much as one second of delay. – phoog May 31 '16 at 19:11
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    @happybuddha Security (theatre). There's lots of automated checks going on behind the scenes, and supplying a different passport is about the easiest possible issue to detect. I expect someone would end up manually clearing it, though. – Someone Somewhere Jun 1 '16 at 10:34
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All biometric passports have serial numbers that change when issued. Per this notice from the Singaporean government, this is an ICAO requirement: https://www.ica.gov.sg/news_details.aspx?nid=12246

And since virtually all passports are now biometric, even those countries (like Singapore) that did not previously change numbers do so now.

Update: Here's Document 9303-4 "Specifications for Machine Readable Passports (MRPs) and other TD3 Size MRTDs" direct from the ICAO Machine Readable Travel Documents Programme:

Field 05/I (Mandatory)

Passport Number

As given by the issuing State or organization to uniquely identify the document from all other MRTDs [machine readable travel documents] issued by the State or organization.

"Uniquely identify the document" means that the number cannot be reused for other documents. And of course it's only a "recommendation", because ICAO only sets standards and does not enforce them -- but if countries produce passports that don't follow the rules, they're not going to be accepted by other countries. In particular, ICAO member states are supposed to ensure that non-MRP passports are no longer accepted after November 24, 2015.

And a final nit: the standard above is technically for machine-readable passports, which is not quite the same thing as biometric passports, but the standard in question does document the rules of biometric passports, and all biometric passports are supposed to follow the rule above.

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    The relevant bit here is the ICAO standard, which is global. – lambshaanxy May 31 '16 at 10:55
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    Also, for those that might not be aware, "ICAO member states" means "nearly everywhere on Earth." The ICAO member states are the Cook Islands plus all of the U.N. member states except Dominica, Liechtenstein, and Tuvalu. – reirab Jun 1 '16 at 16:46
  • Historically nearly every bit of official documentation in singapore had the same number - so your birth cert, passport and ID card(s) had the same number. – Journeyman Geek Jun 2 '16 at 10:51
  • Aren't all biometric passports machine readable? – phoog Oct 7 '16 at 15:15
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I called the Australian Passport Office, as I couldn't find this information anywhere on their website.

They confirmed that passport numbers do indeed change both at a renewal and also at a passport reissue due to name change.

Obviously this only applies for Australian passports; I'm unaware of whether this is a general rule for other countries.

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    Confirmed with the recent renewal of my passport. – The Wandering Coder Jun 1 '16 at 0:36
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Yes the passport number changes upon renewal. The new passport will have it's own unique identifier i.e. its own passport number. This is a common practice. The old passport number will be invalidated and will appear as such when checked by border officers if you try to use it to travel.

As an authoritative reference, the British embassy in Bern confirms this:

Informative Note

Passport numbers change upon renewal

To whom it may concern:

This is to confirm that when a British passport is issued it carries a new number which is not related to the number of any previous passport. The British Embassy is not able to provide a letter or certificate confirming the passport numbers.

  • Australia has not been a British colony for a while, so advice from the British Embassy is not relevant to the OP. (Although, as it happens, Australia does have the same policy.) – lambshaanxy May 31 '16 at 10:42
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    @jpatokal It's ok, I did state in the question that I was happy for a general response, not specifically Australian related, as well. I actually answered the question myself - I posted it because I couldn't find the answer on here before calling APIS directly. I'm sure it will be useful to others to have non-Australian answers too! – Tim Malone May 31 '16 at 10:44
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Yes, your passport number will change.

I have looked at my old and new passports (2 UK ones and 3 Australian ones) and the numbers are different for every renewal/replacement.

Additionally for me, I have had different issuing offices for each one, so that may be the reason mine have changed.

8

YES

I'm an Australian citizen and have had five passports, perhaps six, beginning in 1989.

Each time I've renewed my passport over the years the new passport has had a number different to the old one.

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    Glad to read you again, you old-timer. – JoErNanO May 31 '16 at 14:48
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Yes, it will change.

A quick google search reveals it certainly does so for all major English-speaking nations.
I believe this to be true as a general matter of fact, however I can not find an authoritative reference at the moment.

However, Wikipedia says:

A standard passport booklet format includes the cover, [...]. Passports have numerical or alphanumerical designators ("serial number") assigned by the issuing authority.

So the passport number being a serial number, it's there to uniquely identify the passport, not the bearer, and thus should change with every re-issue of the passport.

  • "it's there to uniquely identify the passport, not the bearer"--This is really sad though. Now the person need to remember multiple passport numbers – firstpostcommenter Nov 5 at 13:34
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As others have said, your new passport will almost certainly have a new number, and it is this number which you should record on your booking, so that it matches when you get to the airport.

However, note that you generally don't have to provide a passport number at time of booking, only before check in, because the airlines / travel agents know that you might not have it with you, and don't want to lose the sale.

If you provide the old details, they may query or charge you when you go to change them, but you should be able to tick that you'll provide them later. Then you can wait until your new passport arrives and fill out the correct details on a "manage my booking" page.

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    A couple of years ago I tried changing the passport recorded on my booking because I was planning to check in with a passport other than the one I'd used to book. The "manage my booking" page of the airline in question did not allow it. When I showed up at the airport, I just handed my other passport to the agent at the counter, without mentioning that it was a different document, and everything went perfectly smoothly. – phoog May 31 '16 at 19:14
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    I'm not sure if it's just the airlines I fly on, but every time I've booked I've been asked for my passport number as a mandatory field. @phoog This is helpful to know though, that perhaps it doesn't even matter! – Tim Malone May 31 '16 at 19:36
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I am American. Things may be different in Australia but probably not.

When I renewed my passport, the new passport had a different number. However, I did not lose my old passport. Any visa in it are still valid. I can still use my old passport for many purposes. Book your flight with your old passport. Bring both passports to the airport. There will not be a problem with numbers because when they ask to see your passport you will give them the old passport.

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    I don't know about Australia, but this is definitiely not true in the UK. In order to renew your passport, you have to send in your old passport to be cancelled - they physically cut the corner off the cover before sending it back to you. You may still be able to use visas inside the old passport (depending on the terms of those visas), but the passport itself ceases to be a valid travel document. gov.uk/government/publications/cancellation-of-passports – IMSoP May 31 '16 at 16:37
  • @IMSoP The same is true in America. That is why I said bring both passports. – emory May 31 '16 at 16:45
  • Surely the details the airline wants to log are the details of the valid document you will be flying under, not a cancelled document that will be rejected at immigration? The only use of carrying the cancelled passport is if it contains visas which are still valid in the destination country, but that's not what this question is about. – IMSoP May 31 '16 at 16:53
  • I thought the only use of an expired/cancelled/invalid passport was the brag value of the stamps. As long as you're not changing your name (or I assume other details, but they're unlikely to change), in Australia you get to keep your old passport but with the scannable numbers on the details page cut off. – Tim Malone May 31 '16 at 19:38
  • @TimMalone as the others have noted, many countries recognized valid visas in expired or cancelled passports. At least the US and the Schengen states do, and I think the UK does as well. – phoog May 31 '16 at 20:05
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Yes, the passport number will change.

The reason that airlines ask for passport information when booking flights is so that the airline can satisfy any pre-clearance requirements by immigration authorities at the destination. Typically, the information needs to be transmitted to the destination country authorities a certain number of hours or days before the aircraft departure. If you have a new passport, you should contact the airline and simply register the new information. Problem solved.

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