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Many first-time and repeating visa applicants have queries about the observation page in passport. Fortunately, we are here to clear all the misconceptions and inform you about this page whether it is in the US or the UK.
Let’s get right into it!
US Observations Page Explained
A standard US passport comes with 28 pages. The pages, also known as endorsement pages in the US, are from pages 25-28 in a normal passport. An endorsement form is an official stamp or handwritten explanation of the terms and conditions under which a passport was granted or is valid.
Authorities may issue a separate information notice (IN) to the holder, providing additional details about the endorsement form. One example of such details is the certification of non-citizenship nationality.
Importance of Endorsement Pages
The passport’s endorsement pages are an integral part of the passport book. You can find out if you are a foreign person who is not a citizen. You do not need to record entry and departure stamp information on the endorsement pages while traveling to and from other countries.
Any disability that you fill in the online application form when registering for a passport is also mentioned here in the endorsement form.
Must-Know Observation Page Features
The passport offices provide a code of endorsements to its users. Authorities write accurate endorsements according to the codes because an incorrect standard endorsement, or a non-standard endorsement cause judges to misinterpret or mishandle a claim.
The US passport offices have provided the following list of features for observation pages:
- Proper placement: The endorsement codes are properly filled out on the passport application form.
- Length of endorsement: The total number of characters that can be used in an endorsement on passports is capped at 900.
- Importance for Travelers: Observations specify the duration of passport validity, the status of the passport bearer, and any other important information regarding the traveler’s destination.
- Term of validity and Validity Period: Standard new passport books must adhere to the minimum validity term stipulated in this subchapter if they have two or more endorsements that decrease their usability. If the passports have been endorsed for a validity period of one year and then later for two years, the validity period of one year will take precedence and be applicable.
Endorsement Codes for Passports
The codes listed are intended to help and provide understanding. They are taken directly from the US passport offices and denoted by a code and a text copied on a word-by-word basis.
UK Observations Page Explained
In the UK, the Passport offices are known as Her Majesty’s Passport Office or the HM Passport Office. A British passport is available in two different sizes: the normal size, which is free and contains 34 pages, and a larger book with 48 pages that can be purchased for an additional fee.
Printing Process Discussed
Officials only print observations in capital letters on the observation pages of a British passport. Observations should follow certain guidelines, including
- Having no more than 18 lines of text and no more than 44 characters.
The passport issuance software creates a distinct identifier, such as OBTB, for each observation made during the issuance process, although these codes are not visible on the physical passport. If required, officials can remove line breaks to accommodate multiple observations on the passport.
What is the Purpose of these Pages?
There are notations present on the passports called “observations.” Officials print these as a stamp or write them by hand to highlight certain details of the passport owner. A British passport is marked with the following information for the benefit of inspectors and other officials:
- Customer’s citizenship.
- Who the customer is.
- Justification of passport early expiration.
- The customer working in the government sector
Some observations contain a note called: [enter free text]. This allows you, the owner of the passport, to write whatever they choose in the free text space.
For example, if the observation requires them to write their full name then they shall write their name in the free text space themselves.
Order of the Observations
If more than one observation is added to a passport, then it is in the following order:
- Nationality and immigration status observations.
- King’s Messenger Service observations along with diplomatic officials.
- Observations related to identity.
- Observations related to validity.
Immigration and nationality observations
If the HM Passport Office needs to reveal details related to the holder’s immigration or nationality status, a few official observations will be included. It is about the Britsh:
- Overseas territories citizen
- Overseas national citizens
- Protected and secured persons
The remarks indicate the holder’s status under the Immigration Act of 1971, including their right to remain in the UK and eligibility for readmission.
British overseas territories citizen
These official observations indicate the holder is a British Overseas Territory Citizen with a British passport.
Diplomatic, Official, and King’s Messenger observations in passport office
Officials in the HM Passport Office add these officious observations to a standard British passport if the client is eligible for a diplomatic observation. There are three observations that may be listed, denoted by a code followed by the observation statement:
- OBTZ: The person is a member of the Diplomatic Service of His Britannic Majesty.
- OBTM: The person is in the British Government Service and has a British passport.
- OBAB: The person is a dependent or family member of a person in the British Government Service and has a valid British passport.
Identity Official observations
HM Passport Office staff add these official observations when they need to include observations related to customer name, title, and passport information. These official observations can be denoted by a code followed by a statement, and two examples of these are:
- OBTO: This observation shows that the holder is also known as [Name of holder up to 56 characters].
- OBTW: This observation clarifies that the reference to [Name] is to the holder’s name and not their title.
Officials add these observations last, and they are used to show details about the validity of a passport. An example of this is:
- OBTU: Valid for [#number] months, may not be substituted without reference to the passport offices.
Passport Pages in Other Countries
Although the vast majority of countries include pages for additional information in their passport books, it is not a mandatory part and, therefore, not universal. The placement and content of these pages will differ significantly from country to country because there is no international standard.
To illustrate these differences, we will examine the additional information pages in Australian and New Zealand passports.
Pages in Australian Passports
The Australian passport offices do not place a visa or stamps on the observation page because it is not a universal practice. Instead, they place them on the designated visa pages.
As the pages are not used for visas or stamps, Australian passports have three additional “information pages” between the observation and the visa pages.
Pages in New Zealand Passports
These pages show the additional information. This idea covers situations such as:
- Photo issues: For example, religious head coverings or medical issues
- Signature issues: For example, If a non-holder signed due to a mistake or the holder is unable to sign due to a medical condition
- Validity restrictions: Limited validity for replacements
- Additional passports: If the holder requests an additional passport
- Military Reason: Holder has served in the military
- Long names: If the passport holder has a longer name than what is allowed on the passport, their full name will be listed in the observations.
Reported Issues Regarding These Pages
There are some common issues with the additional information pages since a majority of people do not fully understand them. Two such issues are highlighted below.
The passport offices place an observation stamp on page 3 of a customer’s machine-readable passport, which originally had an expiry date of September 6, 2010. The stamp corrected the expiration date to September 10, 2019.
Customers might be unsure if their passport would be deemed valid for international travel due to the passport’s expiration date. In this case, the passport will be valid for international travel since the observation extends validity.
Another person’s wife faced a similar issue, in which her visa had expired, but an observation was added that extended the validity. She was unsure if her passport would be accepted at the airport since it was past its original expiry date but an observation had extended its validity.
Interesting Facts You Should Know
Let’s examine the characteristics of observation pages in a Chinese passport, as we previously discussed how passport observations are not universal and thus differ for most countries. This idea includes their placement in the passport and their content.
Features of a Chinese Passport Observation Page
A Chinese passport consists of 48 pages and has a passport number that is 9 characters long. The first two pages include notes about the passport in both Chinese and English. Let’s explore some unique characteristics of the Chinese passport’s pages that provide additional information:
- Location: The third and fourth pages of the passport contain sections for additional information.
- Correct name: When issuing the passport, the passport issuing authority will print the name of the passport holder in the Chinese Commercial Code and their identity card number on the additional information pages.
- Place of issue: If a Chinese official issues a passport outside of China, such as by Chinese diplomats in foreign countries, the pages for additional information will contain a message indicating this.
What does observation mean on a passport?
Observation on a passport refers to additional information that is added to a passport to indicate special circumstances or conditions related to the passport holder.
What official observations go on a passport?
Official observations that go on a passport include information related to the holder’s immigration or nationality status, eligibility for readmission, diplomatic status, and changes to name or personal information
We learned what an observations page is, what it consists of, and how the observations page differs in different countries like the US, UK, and Australia.
We have also discussed common issues faced by travelers, such as whether an observation note stating the extension of the expiry date would keep the passport valid beyond its original expiration date.
Have you faced any issues related to your passport? How did you fix those issues? Let us know in the comments below.