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   Friday, August 23, 2019 

United States of America FlagVital Passport Information For Travelers

By Alexis Martin

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 Travel Tips     

Not too long ago, a passport was not necessarily required for travel between many countries. Things have changed a great deal in the last decade or so, and now a passport is needed for almost every international destination. United States territories, of course, do not require a passport, but almost every other country does. The passport information below should help ease the process for you.

One new advance is the passport card. It fits in your wallet and is not as expensive as a passport book, which is the traditional passport form. It is only valid for travel to and from Canada, Mexico, and most of the Caribbean nations. It is also not valid for international travel by air, and is useful only for sea or land entry across borders. It may also not be adequate for every nation, as some may ask for additional documents. It is best to check your specific destination before choosing this for your upcoming trip.

In most cases, international travelers need a traditional passport book. This has long been the standard requirement for travel across borders. If you already have a passport and meet all of the requirements, you might be able to get a renewal passport through the mail. It will, however, be necessary to apply in person if this is your first passport or if your old one was issued more than 15 years previously. Personal applications can be made at most post offices and many county offices. These locations are usually more convenient than the regional agencies that the government operates.

Regardless of whether this is a new passport or a renewal, you will need to provide proof of your identity and citizenship. You will have to provide two identical color photographs of sufficient quality. Background and size restrictions also apply. The pictures taken in booths such as you find at the mall are inadequate. Many post offices are equipped to take the photos, and many businesses or stores can also provide them for you.

Summer is the busiest time for passport issuance, and during that time it may take up to 3 months to get your passport. You should plan to make your application in plenty of time to receive it well ahead of your scheduled departure. Even during off-peak times, it can still take a month to a month and a half for processing. If you need to trim about half of the wait time from your passport application, you can pay an expedited services fee.

When you are in a foreign country, be sure and guard your passport. Should it be stolen or lost, report it immediately to the U.S. Consulate or embassy. They can help you obtain another passport or provide the documentation you will need to exit the country and return to the U.S. Since this is not normally an easy chore, you should make every effort to avoid it.

A parent behind on payments for child support may find his or her application for a passport denied. A child may not be allowed to exit the country during a custody dispute. In addition, unless the mother or father has proof of a court decree granting sole custody, both parents must sign a child's passport application. Every child, even an infant, must have his or her own passport. Getting a passport for a child is not much different in terms of the documentation required. But the parent must also establish proof of the child's relationship.

If an emergency arises that requires you to travel immediately, you can apply in person at a regional passport agency. You will need to furnish the usual documentation for a passport, but you will also have to document the emergency. In the event of the death of a relative, for example, you might have to produce a death certificate. You may also have to prove your relationship to the deceased.

 Resource Box     

With the many changes in United States passport information that are continuously occurring, it is always best to verify the most current information, particularly the requirements of your destination. Be sure to make your passport application in time to meet your departure schedule.

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    Views expressed in the article are those of the author and are not necessarily the opinions of CaribbeanChoice, its staff or members.

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    Scott says:

    The passport laws sure have changed in the United States.  Before U.S. Citizens could travel almost anywhere in North America without a passport, including the Caribbean, Mexico and Canada.  Those days are over.

    I already got my new passport book and passport card.  Plus I read that many states, like Texas are working with the Federal Government to make a version of their state Drivers License a valid travel document with the same weight as the Passport Card issued by the U.S. Dept. of State.  That should cut down on the number of documents you need to travel, at least in North America.

    Posted on 03 Jan 2010 at 8:40am | View Post in Forum

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