As of 2018, roughly 42% of Americans have passports, a huge increase from the number of Americans with passports just two decades ago, which was closer to 15%. Part of the reason for that historically low percentage is that up until 2008, Americans could travel to Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean without a passport, 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 U.S. with only a driver's license until 2008 as well.
More U.S. passport facts:
- In response to the rule change, over 18 million passports were issued in 2007, compared to the roughly 12 million issued in 2006. Those numbers have continued to rise, with 21.4 million passports being issued in 2017.
- 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.