How to find a lost passport number

Passport ›passport number

The passport number - also alphanumeric serial number or passport number - of the current passport consists of 9 numbers and letters. The structure of the passport number was last updated with the introduction of the new electronic passport on November 1st, 2007. Before that it consisted exclusively of a series of numbers, without letters.

The same alphanumeric system was introduced on November 1, 2010 for the serial numbers of German ID cards.


  • Number or letter? There are no O’s and no B’s in the passport number. Error-prone letters are not used. More on that below.

Structure of the alphanumeric serial number

The nine-digit serial number always begins with a letter. The following characters are used for the remaining 8 random digits:
C, F, G, H, J, K, L, M, N, P, R, T, V, W, X, Y, Z as well as 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9.

As you can see, the full alphabet is not used. This has been purposely set to avoid confusing letters and numbers, and to prevent words from being formed randomly. The letters A, B, D, E, I, O, Q, S and U therefore do not appear in the passport number.

If you know this rule, you can be sure that no 8 could be a B and no zero could be an O (oh). This is particularly important if, for example, you are applying for a visa for the USA and the number for the automated test itself must enter.

The susceptibility of automated text recognition (OCR) to errors has also been significantly reduced. After all, the most important goal of the new electronic passport was machine readability.

In exceptional cases, the serial number can only consist of letters.

Where can I find the passport number?

The passport number can be found several times in the passport. You can find the passport number, for example.on the laminated card - both top right and bottom left, in the so-called machine readable zone. At the top right the passport number is titled “Pass-Nr./Passport No./Passeport N °.”.

You can see the machine-readable zone in the following picture.

On the back of this card, which, unlike the front face in landscape format, is upright, you can find the passport number at the very bottom.

In addition, the serial number is lasered in all paper pages and perforated in the back cover. The diameter of the holes continues to decrease towards the rear! 😮🤯