Your US passport is literally your key to exploring the world beyond our border.
When traveling out of the United States, a valid passport is needed. If you don’t have a passport and want to travel internationally, here’s a few things to know:
- Getting a passport takes approximately 4 weeks from the time of submission, however there is time involved prior to submission.
- To submit the passport requires completing the application which can be found at: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports.html
- Read the instructions carefully to assure you have the correct information.
- Plan ahead: To allow adequate time for all the above steps, you need to start working on the process about 8 weeks prior to when it is needed.
- Two copies of a current passport photo are required; you can get those at Walgreens or Kinkos
- Proof of citizenship is required; review the requirements on the US Government site to assure you have the correct documents.
- For a first-time passport, you must appear in person at a designated location. An appointment is typically required so allow adequate time to schedule it. The site will provide options in your area.
Need it fast?
If you have not allowed adequate time, and have a trip planned that will require the passport, it is possible to get in less time. There are expediting services in locations where they can walk-through applications in person. This incurs charges that vary according to the speed at which you need it.
Now you have it:
The good news is that once your passport is received, it is valid for 10 years for adults ages 16+. Children under age 16 will need to renew after 5 years.
When you receive your passport, sign the indicated location at your photo page. This will be required in foreign countries and can delay entry if not completed before arrival.
Then make a couple of copies of the passport and keep in a file at home. When you travel, leave a copy with a family member in case of loss while traveling. For our clients, we retain a scanned copy in our system for that purpose.
Ready to use:
Be aware that the name on your passport must match the airline and other reservations made. Any variance could result in being denied leaving the US.
Most countries require a passport to be valid for 6 months past the last date you will be in their country, so verify that information before planning to leave the US.
You also need at least 2 blank pages in the passport book for a trip; if your passport is full, it’s time to renew.
Protect your passport:
The passport book has a chip in it which needs protection from identity theft. An RFID blocking passport cover is recommended; it will protect against identity theft and keep the passport book in better shape.
Keep your passport safe when traveling! Either leave it in your hotel or ship room, locked in the safe OR hide in a travel safe. Most importantly, be careful about carrying with you as theft or loss will create major headaches for you.
For the brides:
For brides, if you are taking an international trip for your honeymoon and are getting a passport, it will be issued in your maiden name. You will travel under your maiden name so be sure to make reservations correctly. Once married, you can obtain a name change during the first 12 months of acquisition with a minimal fee.
Oops. . . I lost it!
If your passport is lost while out of the US? Contact the nearest US embassy immediately. This is when the copy you left at home, or with your travel agent, will expedite the process. Your home contact can fax or email the copy for you to present to the embassy. This expedites replacement.
Card vs book:
The passport card was added as an option several years ago, and since it is less expensive, some clients considered that option. Here are some important factors of which to be aware:
- The passport card is only applicable for a limited number of countries; primarily Mexico and Canada as well as a couple of Caribbean islands.
- The passport card can only be used when traveling by land or ship; air travel is not possible with the passport card.
- Even if you are traveling by cruise on the first trip, be aware that if an unforeseen event requires you to return home by air, you will not be able to travel on that card. There have been known situations in which clients were unable to return to the US from a cruise due to the card limitation.
Some countries require an entry visa. These vary from being obtainable at time of entry, to extensive applications that require submission and approval by the country embassy. This can vary from two weeks to several months, depending upon the destination. Consult your travel agent for guidance on the requirements for your destination and to assure you are allowing adequate time to acquire it.
Your passport will need at least 2 blank pages for visa entry. In some cases, you will be sending it to the embassy in advance for travel approval. In others, you receive the visa approval at time of entry.
Knowing which circumstances apply to your trip, and how to coordinate those most effectively is one of the services a qualified travel agent will provide. If we can assist you in your planning, drop us an email.