I’ve been asked lots of questions about US passports. Here is what you need to know.
What is a passport? How does it differ from a passport card?
A passport is an internationally recognized travel document that verifies your identity and your citizenship. Most foreign countries require a valid passport to enter and leave. In most cases, countries require that your passport be valid for 6 months from your last date of travel. All US citizens traveling internationally by air must present a valid passport to reenter the US. You may use the passport card at land border-crossings and sea ports-of-entry from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda. The passport card cannot be used for international travel by air. If you are going to go to the trouble to get a passport card, why not go ahead and get the real thing?
How do I obtain a passport?
To obtain a passport, you will have to submit appropriate forms, supporting documentation, a photo and applicable fees to the US Department of State Travel Site. Renewal application can be mailed. First time applicant must apply in person. Processing times can vary depending on the time of year, but average 6 weeks. I advise to plan ahead and give yourself 2+ months to avoid stress. Expedited processing is available for an added fee.
Do I need a passport for a Caribbean cruise from a US port?
No, you do not need one, but I highly recommend you always travel with one. In case an issue should arise while you are abroad and you need to fly home, a passport will be required. For example, if you become injured or ill and need to fly home, having a passport will greatly minimize the hassle...and you don’t need hassle when you are sick or hurt!
Do my children need passports?
Yes! Every person, even an infant, must have his/her own passport to fly to a foreign destination. Make sure you check the expiration date on your children’s passports because they expire in five years.
This trip is our honeymoon. Can we travel as Mr. and Mrs. “Newlywed”?
I can understand how romantic it sounds to use your brand new last name on your honeymoon. However, your experience at airport check-in will not be romantic. You must travel under the name on your passport. Your name on your airline ticket must match the name on your passport exactly. When you return and have the time, you can renew your passport to reflect your name change.
Can you help me, my passport was stolen?
This is a call no travel consultant likes to get. Ever! But it does happen, rarely. Make three photocopies of your passport before leaving home. Give one to a friend or relative to keep handy, give one to your trusted travel professional to keep in your file and carry the other copy with you, stored separately from the original. This makes it much easier to have a replacement issued, if necessary. If your passport is stolen, contact the local US Embassy or Consulate for assistance. Keep your original passport in a safe place (like a room safe) when possible, to minimize the risk of theft. You don’t need to carry it around with you at all times while overseas.
I hope this information is helpful. I believe that it is worth the time, energy and financial investment to obtain your passport, and in most every international scenario, a must. Don’t miss out on a great travel opportunity because you aren’t prepared! If you need any assistance in choosing your next destination, I would love to help. Schedule your complimentary consult today. Happy (and safe) Travels!