U.S. Passport Books


There are several different passport book types used in the U.S. for different reasons and situations. Travelers considering getting a passport should be aware of the different passport book types so that they can get the correct book for their needs. The following is a guide to the different passport book colors as well as some information about each of them:

Personal Passport with a Blue Cover

The blue-covered passport is the most common and recognizable passport type. It is sometimes called a tourist passport, ordinary passport or regular passport. The vast majority of people in the U.S. seeking a passport will require this passport type.

The blue personal passport can be used for every kind of travel except official governmental travel. However, travel for vacation or tourism, business, employment, education, or as part of a flight crew are all covered by this passport type. Personal passports can be acquired at any United States Passport Agency location.

Diplomatic Passport with a Black Cover

Black-covered passports are used for diplomatic travel. Diplomatic passports are for U.S. State Department employees required to travel overseas for their jobs as well as State Department business. This passport type is issued only in Washington DC at the Washington Passport Agency’s Special Issuance Agency.

Official Passport with a Brown Cover

The brown official passport is issued to United States government employees and contractors for travel related to U.S. government business. Brown official passports are also used by active duty military personnel traveling overseas for active military duty. This type of passport is only issued in Washington DC at the Washington Passport Agency’s Special Issuance Agency.

Note: American citizens are allowed to possess both a brown official passport as well as a personal blue-covered passport simultaneously. Since the brown-covered official passport is only for use for travel related to government business, a blue personal passport is required for any leisure or vacation travel.

Non-Citizen Travel Documents

  • Advance Parole Travel Document
  • Refugee Travel Document
  • Re-Entry Permit

The Non-Citizen Travel Documents listed above are issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. While these documents look like passport books and can function as travel and identification documents, they are not related to citizenship and are for non-U.S. citizens who legally reside in the U.S.

Non-Citizen Travel Documents like the Advance Parole Travel Document, Refugee Travel Document and Re-Entry Permit are usually issued to persons unable to procure a passport from their origin country. However, these Non-Citizen Travel Documents may be used to acquire visas as well as function like a traditional passport for travel and entry into other countries. These Non-Citizen Travel Documents also allow the holder to retain their rights for re-entry into the U.S. following travel abroad.