The U.S. State Department last month began issuing new passports with digital images and other technical changes aimed at thwarting duplication. But don't expect to be the first on your block to get one.
The design is being phased in gradually through the end of 1999, and "we cannot fulfill someone's request for a digitized passport" in the interim, a department spokeswoman said. Your best chance of getting one now is to order a passport through the mail, which is allowed only for renewals, not first-time passport seekers. Many but not all mail-in renewals are processed in the National Passport Center in Portsmouth, N.H., which has the new equipment, the spokeswoman said.