The Passport: Get to know its structure and number

by Catherine Carey | July 13, 2023
passport and aeroplane

When you travel abroad you need a passport in most cases. A passport is an official document issued by a citizen’s country as a form of identification and proof of citizenship. 

Without a passport, you might not be able to board your plane or boat or cross the land border to enter a foreign country. It’s also necessary to apply for visas, find work abroad, purchase a SIM card, rent accommodation, and carry out many other activities.

If you need to know where you can find crucial information like place of issue or the Travel Document Number in your passport, how to check your passport’s validity and more, continue reading this complete guide on how a passport looks like and its parts and uses.

What are the parts of a passport?

There are very distinct parts in a passport. This small booklet has information on the cover and inside. On the cover there is the name of the issuing country, information on the type of document (usually the word Passport, but can also read official passport, diplomatic passport, etc.), the national symbol of the country and a biometric symbol. 

The layout of these items and the colour of the passport are different depending on the issuing country. 

cover of passport

On the inside of a passport, there is this information:

  • Data page of a passport. These 2 or 3 pages hold the most important information of the traveller with a picture and the information about the passport itself. The information included is the name, the nationality, the date and place of birth, the passport number, the date of issue and expiry and the place of issue or issuing authority of the passport. In this page there can also be the holder’s signature. Biometric passports (also known as electronic passports) have a machine-readable zone at the bottom with the traveller’s identity information.
  • Signature page. The signature page is where the holder signs their name and provides additional identifying information. 
  • Blank passport pages. You can find these pages after the data page. They are blank pages used to affix visas and place stamps.
  • Endorsement Page. At the back of the passport, there can be a page used to indicate any special conditions or endorsements on the passport. There can also be a page to write emergency contacts.
  • Observation Page. There can be passports with a so-called observation page where customs and immigration officials can record additional information or comments.

inside of a passport parts

What is a travel document number on a passport?

A Travel Document Number (TDN) is a unique identification number assigned to your passport or any other travel document like a visa, a Green Card, a passport card, etc. A travel document is any document you need to cross borders and travel internationally. 

The Travel Document Number, in the case of passports, is used to track and verify the passport's authenticity and, as such, the travel document number is often required when applying for visas or traveling to certain countries. The Travel Document Number ensures authorities that the document is valid and not fake and shows if you are eligible for travel.

Where can I find the travel document number?

You can find the Travel Document Number (TDN) on the most important page of any passport: the personal information or data page, the one with your photo. The TDN is usually located on the right.

Why is the travel document number important?

The Travel Document Number is so important because it is the way of being identified by authorities when you travel and, since it is so standardized, it is the main way all security agents across borders and foreign lands validate your travel document (passport, visa, passport card, etc.). With the TDN they are able to know every person coming in and out of each location.

Without a Travel Document Number, the passport or any other travel document is not a valid travel document, and won't allow you to travel internationally (you won’t be able to prove your eligibility) or prove citizenship. 

What is my passport number?

The Passport Document Number (PDN) is a Travel Document Number that picks up crucial information about travellers. For the most part, the passport number are digits that tie directly to an individual. This means that it is a unique code, so two passports cannot have the same number. This code is kept in the government’s database.

The passport number is an extremely important Travel Document Number because it identifies the person and its citizenship, it makes you eligible for travel and allows you to get your visa. It is the way of knowing what visa or citizenship status someone is under.

How do I locate my passport number?

The passport number is usually located in the top right-hand corner of the identification page, the one that has your photo. 

passport number

Is a Passport Number the same as a Travel Document Number? 

Yes, your passport number is a travel document number. You must keep in mind that each travel document has specific number or digits so if you have, for example, a passport card and a passport booklet,  the two numbers will be different. Each number is unique to the document.

What is a passport place of issue?

The passport place of issue is the specific location where the passport was produced. The Place of Issue is essential for verifying the passport's authenticity and can also indicate the issuing authority.

Where do I locate the place of issue on my passport? 

You can find the place of issue passport on the personal information page of the passport, along with the date of issue and expiration. It is usually at the bottom half of the page, but the exact location depends on the country’s passport type.

Are the place of issue and country of issue the same? 

No, they are not the same. There are multiple cases where both coincide, but there could be cases that no. The place of issue refers to the specific location where the passport was issued, such as a passport office or a consulate, while the country of issue refers to the country that issued the passport.

The place of issue and country of issue will be different when a passport is issued by a diplomatic mission or consulate of one country located in another country. For instance, if a citizen of India applies for a passport at the Indian Embassy in the United Kingdom, the place of issue would be the Indian Embassy in the UK, while the country of issue would be India.

Why is the place of issue of my passport important?

The place of issue passport is important because it helps identify the specific location where your passport was issued, and thus providing a reference point for authorities to verify the authenticity and validity of the passport.

It also gives you information on which embassy or consulate to contact if you need assistance in a foreign land, it allows authorities to keep track on the distribution and issuance of passports and it impacts certain legal procedures, visa applications and other matters related to your passport.

What is the passport issuing authority?

The Passport Issuing Authority (PIA) is the specific entity like the government, state agency, or organization that has issued the passport. The Passport Issuing Authority can be different depending on the country or region.  

The Passport Issuing Authority processes passport applications, verifies the identity and eligibility of the applicants, prints and issues passports, maintains records of issued passports and incorporates security features to prevent fraud of passports.

Where do I locate the passport issuing authority on my passport?

You can find the passport issuing authority on the data or personal information page of the passport.

How do I know if my passport is valid?

To know if your passport is valid, you should check the expiration date on your passport’s data page. The specific validity period depends on your country’s policies and your age. It usually ranges from 5 to 10 years. If it has expired or will expire soon, you must renew it. 

You can also check if your passport is valid by verifying the entry requirements for specific countries. If you are about to travel internationally, you must check the requirements because some countries require your passport to be valid for at least 6 months beyond your departure date, while others can go up to 8.

Your passport will be valid if it hasn’t got much damage. You must inspect your passport for significant damage like torn pages, water damage or damaged chip. If it hampers identification, you may need to replace it.

If you need to ask any questions about your passport’s validity, you can contact the Passport Issuing Authority in your country. They will assist you and guide you on the validity of your passport depending on your specific case.