Where and What Is The Passport Book Number?

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Visiting the United States of America is a dream trip for many travelers.

If you don’t qualify for the visa waiver program you need to apply for a U.S. nonimmigrant visa using a DS 160 form.

That form asks for a “passport book number” and it’s a question that creates a lot of confusion.

Most people’s first response is “what is a passport book number? Is that the same as a passport number?”.

And the second most popular question is “where is the passport book number?”

If you are one of those people then this is the post for you!

Passport Number vs Passport Book Number

Every passport has a passport number no matter which country issued it.

That number is on the same page as your photo and full name, and is usually located in the top right corner of your passport.

It will be under the text “Passport No” or occasionally “Document No”.

Some countries passports also have something called a Passport Book Number.

A passport book number is a different thing from a passport number. They are two different numbers, anyone that tells you they are the same thing is mistaken. And a lot of people are mistaken.

According to the DS 160 form notes:

“You may or may not have a Passport Book Number on your passport”

U.S. Department of State

“The location of the Passport Book Number on your passport may vary depending on the country that issued your passport.” 

U.S. Department of State

“Please contact your passport issuing authority if you are unable to determine whether or not your passport contains a Passport Book Number.”

U.S. Department of State

Here’s the thing…

Most Countries Don’t Have A Passport Book Number

While a passport ID number is a number that identifies the person who holds the passport. A passport book number identifies the booklet itself. It’s a subtle difference.

I believe the mysterious passport book number might even stump Sherlock Holmes.

Because the passport book number has a few different names.

  • It might or might not be on your passport…
  • If it is on your passport it could be hiding anywhere…
  • It can hide using different names or sometimes does not even have a name!

Damn this book number is foxy!

It’s sometimes called the “numero de libreta” or the “booklet number” or the “no de carnet”.

And it is sometimes called the “inventory control number” or a “stock control number”.

If you are unsure whether your passport has a book number check your passport carefully for any number that is not your passport number.

All numbers should be considered. But keep in mind that a passport book number is NOT a registration number, a personal ID number, or a tax number.

If your passport is a modern biometric ePassport it’s less likely that it will have a passport book number.

There are some countries where an old passport has book number and a new passport does not have a book number.

The increased security of biometric passports makes the booklet number less common.

The table below contains information about which countries possibly still use a passport book number.

This information has been gleaned from Google searches. It is still best practice to check your own passport thoroughly, maybe with a magnifying glass, especially if you have an older passport.

Passport Issuing CountryPassport Book Number?
AlbaniaDoes Not Apply
SwitzerlandDoes Not Apply
SwedenDoes Not Apply
ArgentinaDoes Not Apply
AustraliaDoes Not Apply
AustriaDoes Not Apply
BangladeshDoes Not Apply
BelgiumDoes Not Apply
NigeriaDoes Not Apply
BrazilDoes Not Apply
Canada“Number next to the barcode”. See below.
ChinaYes, see image below.
DenmarkDoes Not Apply
Czechia Does Not Apply
EgyptDoes Not Apply
FranceDoes Not Apply
GermanyDoes Not Apply
IndiaDoes Not Apply
IndonesiaDoes Not Apply
IranDoes Not Apply
ItalyDoes Not Apply
JapanDoes Not Apply
IrelandPossible. See below.
MalaysiaMay Apply. See below.
MexicoOnly older passports have a PBN. See image below.
MoroccoDoes Not Apply
PakistanSee below.
PhilippinesDoes Not Apply
PolandDoes Not Apply
ThailandDoes Not Apply
UkraineDoes Not Apply
UKDoes Not Apply

Where possible I’ve found examples of the passport book number in all it’s disguises.

Maybe studying the images below will help you search for your number.

If you have one…

People’s Republic Of China

This Chinese passport has a passport book number:

Does yours?

Mexico

This older mexican passport has both a passport number AND a passport book number:

Sometimes the passport book number is hiding at the bottom of the 1st page. The reverse of the page that has your photo.

Malaysia

Older Malaysian passports might have a “control no”. This is a passport book number. 

El Salvador

And this passport from El Salvador has a “numero de libreta” or booklet number.

Council of the European Union - PRADO - SLV-AO-02002 - <Biodata page>

Pakistan

This Pakistan issued passport has a booklet number of C2512902. The passport number is AB1156213.

Canada

Check this older Canadian passport example. The number under the barcode is different than the passport no.

The number etched in the page is the same as the number at the barcode. This is the passport book number.

In this example travel document the passport number is AB504966 and the book number is ZXZ00336.

Republic Of Ireland

According to the Irish Passport service the passport book number is a stock control number inside the front cover.

The Verdict

Because Form DS-160 is submitted online electronically to the Department of State it’s not easy to ask anyone questions to get help.

We need to do our own detective work.

The terminology is very confusing. Hopefully this page has helped somebody.

If you are in any doubt ask the issuer of your travel document if your passport has this number. Don’t just trust some guy on the internet.

It’s better to get the information on your application correct.

But if you search high and low and you can’t find this book number anywhere on your passport the chances are that it “does not apply” to your passport.

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