Passport Proliferation: Nearly Half of Americans Now World-Ready, Are You? [Roundup]

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Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. The number of valid passports in 1990 is fishy on the State Department website. They reported that they issued 3,688,689 new passports in 1990 and there 11,116,489 valid passports. Looking back 10 years, the typical length of a USA passport for an adult, they had been issuing more than 3 million but less than 5 million every year. Were people turning in their passports and having them destroyed? There should have been around 40 million in 1990. If you take 2023 and add the previous nine years, you get approximately the number of valid passports for 2023.

  2. good detective work JNS!

    Yes…I’m on the State Dept website seeing what you see. It does look strange / suspicious. I think somebody at State Dept is bad at math and historical analysis. But that’s not a surprise given hiring directives / standards now. And the quality of “modern education.” Progress! /s

    I did write a blog entry decade+ ago about this subject. I can probably find it.


    US population 1990 – 250 million (248) or so. So the 40 million estimate you state in 1990 would be around 16%. Just did quick count in my head 1980-1990 = 44 million or so? So maybe slightly more then 16%.

  3. No need to worry, passports will be obsolete with AI.
    At birth, the hospital will slip a chip in the back of your neck like pet owners do with their cats and dogs. While passing thru scanners, only important government info will appear (traffic tickets, delinquent taxes, political party, etc). Better yet, an eye scan (currently available) will be compared to the chip for double confirmation, just like now when a text message is sent to your cell phone when you want to view your bank account on-line.
    Unfortunately, all these surplus passport employees will be moved to TSA. You can never get rid of government.

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