10 Necessary Points to Know About Passports Now and Post-Pandemic
Updated: 17 hours ago
It could be crucial that you take the time now to check your passport. If you don’t have a passport, or yours will expire too soon, it may present problems that can be costly.
For this article, I’m referring to the traditional U.S. passport “book,” not the passport card which have limited use.
When do you need a valid passport?
1. You must have a passport to board a plane departing the United States.
2. Except for closed-loop cruises from the U.S. to other Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) participating countries, you have to have a passport to board a ship from the U.S.
3. While there is an exception in #2 above regarding proof of citizenship for cruising in some instances, we still strongly recommend passports. We have a few clients and there have been countless other travelers who regretted not traveling with a passport as it resulted in delays of days, a lot of extra unplanned expenses, or altogether missing their vacation when “stuff happened.” But this is a bigger conversation for a separate article.
4. Beginning October 1, 2021, you will need to travel with a passport, REAL I.D. or other approved identification to board an airplane to fly within the U.S.
Do you need to renew your passport now?
5. You want to check how long you have left until your passport expires. You don’t want the world to open up for travel and find yourself left behind because your passport expired while many of us felt like we were locked up.
6. Depending on your next trip’s destination, you may need for your passport to be valid for a while past your trip dates. Some countries require as long as six months of a passport being valid beyond your intended arrival or departure date from that area. If yours doesn’t fill your visiting country’s requirements, you will be denied boarding your plane. This can be a costly mistake in addition to missing out on your trip.
How long does it take to get your passport?
7. While you may get your initial or renewal passport in 6-8 weeks, it’s best to assume it will take 12 weeks as too-often happens. To not worry about the turn-around time or, worse, an application that’s been lost, I suggest sending your application at least five months prior to an expected trip. Never trust a court clerk or post office employee who tells you it will be processed quickly.
8. There is an “expedited” option that enables you to receive your passport in four to six weeks for an added cost of $60 over the normal passport costs. ($110 for adults, $80 for children under 16. Plus $35 execution fee for a first-time passport.)
9. There is also an “emergency” option if you are traveling internationally within 72 hours. It’s dependent on your being able to get a coveted in-person appointment which may be quite a distance from your home--- if they even have an appointment time available. Some locations will only process an emergency passport for actual emergency-required travel which excludes booking a last-minute trip or not properly planning for an upcoming trip.
Keeping your passport safe
10. I’ve heard all kinds of stories from panicked people who are hours or days from packing for their trip. “Lost” and misplaced passports are the most common. Dropped in water (including the toilet) and dogs getting to them and chewing them (it’s a thing that’s less unusual than you’d think) are among the problems. If you don’t have a SAFE place to store yours, make that a priority right now. I have a fireproof box for important documents. My passport has a spot in the front of the box. I get it out when I’m doing my “travel documents” checklist while packing and, after the trip, it goes back in that box.
My passport is something I’m proud of. Having this document is, in my opinion, both a privilege and a responsibility. Knowing and following the above points will keep you appreciating yours rather than having it turn into a pre-trip stressor.
Oh--- and do NOT post the photo page of your passport publicly. I’ve seen this done too often. It offers an opportunity for your identity to be stolen. That’s an unofficial 11th point to ponder. 😉