Roughly one in five Americans — about 20 percent — have passports. The low number likely is due to the fact that until 2008, Americans could travel to Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean without one, needing only a driver's license. Most other countries have long required passports to travel over borders — though Canadians were able to travel to the US with only a driver's license until 2008 as well.
More Passport Facts:
- More US passports were issued in 2007 than any other year due to the new rule beginning in 2008. Over 18 million passports were issued, compared to over 12 million issued in 2006.
- US passports were redesigned in 2006 to include a new security chip. The chip carries all the owner's information as well as facial recognition information. There is some controversy over the chips because they are made outside of the country — in Thailand.
- The fees for US passports go to the Bureau of Consular Affairs, which makes and issues the passports, assists relatives in bringing home dead loved ones from overseas and helps with US evacuations during natural disasters.
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