Where and What Is a Passport Book Number? (2024 Guide)

So you are filling a DS-160 form for a US nonimmigrant visa or you are simply curious what is a passport book number and where to find it.

I get it, it is easy to mix the PBN with a passport number.

A passport book number is a combination of numbers and letters printed in some passports ( not all of them ), and its placement on a passport can vary from one country to another. However, in many cases, you can find the PBN on the same data page as the passport number.

In this post, I will explain everything I know about the differences between a passport number and a passport book number and how to locate them on different passports.

Let’s kick things off!

A passport cover

Passport Number vs. Passport Book Number:

Regardless of the country each passport has a unique number that identifies the holder’s ID and the place where the passport is issued.

The passport number or ID number is located in the top right corner on the same page as your photo, and it is usually identified as ” passport number”.

Sometimes it can be written in several languages “numéro de document,” “Número del Documento,” or “Dokumentnummer,” etc.

But what is the mystery of the passport book number? What is the difference then?

A passport book number is a set of unique numbers or letters, and often both, that are assigned to one passport booklet ( the book itself ) to differentiate it from others.

The number is usually eight to nine digits long. It is also called a ‘booklet number,’ ‘inventory control number,’ or ‘stock control number.’ Additionally, it may be written in different languages such as French (‘numéro de libreta’) or Spanish (‘número de carnet’).

But the important thing to know is “not all countries have a PBN on their passports.”

I would say almost 70% of passports do not have a PBN, ( if a passport is an ePassport or a biometric passport it is less likely to have it )


The placement of the PBN can vary, so there is no specific location I can indicate to help you find the number.

In some passports, you can find it on the same page as the passport number, while in others, it may be in a different location.

For example, in the old Canadian passports (see image below), the passport book number is located over the barcode of the passport.

In some other passports, the passport book numbers can be located under some name or words.

If you don’t find any other numbers apart from the passport number, then the passport does not have a book number.

So you are BLESSED.

In some passports It’s like finding a needle in a haystack (but without the haystack).

What Is the Purpose of a Passport Book Number?

The purpose behind the passport book number is mainly to distinguish one passport booklet from another while verifying the validity and identity of the passport holder.

It ensures that the passport holder is the real owner of the passport.

The digits in the book number contain information about the person and the passport booklet itself. For example, the first two numbers indicate which office issued the document.

Additionally, the PBN can be used to track the travel history of a passenger or traveler when crossing borders into other countries and if the passenger respects the immigration laws and regulations.

However, this number will never replace the official passport number.

Which Passports Have Book Numbers and Where to Find Them:

Before we give you some examples of how a PBN looks like in foreign passports, here is a list of countries and if their passports have a book number:

CountryPBN (Passport Book Number)
United KingdomNo
IrelandYes, in some versions
GermanyYes, in some versions
FinlandYes, in some versions
FranceYes, in some versions
SpainYes, in some versions
MexicoNew passport versions do not have a PBN.
This table provides information on whether passports issued by different countries include a Passport Book Number (PBN).

I get some of the countries from Davies Legal

Here are some passports examples:


If you still have the old Mexico number, then you can find the PBN in the same page as the book number.

In this passport the number is itched in the second page.


This old Canadian passport has two PBN sections.

The first one is on the data page under the passport number, and the second place is just under the barcode, which indicates that it is a booklet number.

Canadian Passport

The new Canadian passport do not have a PBN.


Chinese  Passport

The Chinese passport has both a passport number and a PBN.

On the data page, you can find the passport number in the top corner (although it is blurred in the screenshot), and the PBN is on the right side.


Pakistani  Passport

The PBN is easy to find on a Pakistan passport as it is labeled as the booklet number.

Unless you are applying for a visa or crossing borders you won’t always need to use your PBN.


Final Thoughts:

If you are filling out a DS-160 form, you will need to have everything ready before starting the application.

First, verify if your passport has a book number and gather all other necessary information.

If your country is not mentioned in the table above, check for any additional numbers apart from the passport number.

You can contact the authorities that issued your passport to ensure you have the correct information about your passport.

If your passport does not have a passport book number, you can simply select “does not apply” in the form.

We hope this helps!

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