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I'm preparing to fly out of the United States for the first time, and I'm working on getting my passport application filled out. There's an option for a 52-page non-standard passport, and I was wondering when it makes sense to get the 52-page passport vs whatever is in the normal passport.

Is there some sort of good ballpark figure for how much international travel you should expect to be doing before selecting the 52-page option?

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    A lot. Are you flying for the job? Embarking on a year-long round-the-world trip? – Relaxed Jun 2 '16 at 19:54
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    I would guess "one page per trip" is about right, assuming most of your trips are simple there-and-back round trips. So estimate how many of those you will make in the next 10 years. – Nate Eldredge Jun 2 '16 at 19:59
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    It depends where you're going. Going to be visiting Canada all the time? You get few or no stamps in your passport at all. – Jim MacKenzie Jan 3 '18 at 14:13
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    @JimMacKenzie Same in Hong Kong and Israel at Ben Gurion airport – Crazydre Jan 4 '18 at 10:43
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It's easy to get a ballpark worse-case estimate. If you count one page per trip (one entry stamp and one exit stamp on the same page), 10 years of validity and 24 pages, that's at least between 2 and 3 trips per year. In reality, you will manage more than that (because stamps are small and border guards can put them on pages that have already been used) but you might also need several pages for a single country (e.g. if you need a visa – but US citizens are lucky in this respect as they can visit many countries without one).

My understanding is that the choice between 24 and 52 pages is at the discretion of the passport office. If that's your very first passport and unless you just started a career that requires frequent travel abroad, you're very unlikely to either get or need the 52-page variant.

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    One page per trip? I have one page in my passport with 18 stamps on it... – Doc Jun 2 '16 at 20:09
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    @Doc Yes, that was meant as a worse case estimate, as the rest of the answer was supposed to clarify. Will try to edit to stress it even more. Personally, I never reached 18 stamps on a single page but this only strengthens the conclusion: The OP is unlikely to need more than 24 pages. – Relaxed Jun 2 '16 at 20:10
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    The only recommendation they had on the state department site was "if you've ever had to get extra visa pages". Well, if I'm getting a passport for the first time I certainly never needed extra visa pages now, did I? Anyway, this was exactly the information I needed, and gives me confidence that I'm unlikely to have a problem, unless someone decides they're going to start flying me around the world a lot :) – Wayne Werner Jun 2 '16 at 20:17
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    @WayneWerner furthermore, the US no longer adds extra visa pages to its passports, so as things stand now nobody will ever fall into that category inthe future. – phoog Jan 3 '18 at 17:06
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    While issuing the 52-page variant may be at the discretion of the office, they seem to give it to basically anyone. I got a new 52-page passport when I was 17 with no stamps on my previous passport by simply checking "large book" in my renewal form without paying anything extra (or anything at all for that matter, it was with a DS-5504). – Gyðja Björnsdóttir Mar 13 at 19:08
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Get the bigger one. 10 years is a long time. It’s a free upgrade.

  • A US passport (first time or renewal) is not free. – Newton Jan 3 '18 at 14:49
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    @Newton but the difference in cost between different sizes of passport is zero, so choosing the larger size instead of the smaller size is indeed free. – phoog Jan 3 '18 at 17:08
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    @phoog yes that's correct. Just didn't want the answer to mislead someone into thinking the passport is free – Newton Jan 3 '18 at 17:14

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