People are beginning to venture out again and you are feeling more secure and confident about traveling too. In fact, you are definitely ready to travel, but is your passport ready? This article refers to renewing a U.S. passport.
Ready to go
You’ve begun flipping through articles and glossy brochures and visiting websites about exciting places you’ve been wanting to visit, You are thinking that now is the time. Maybe you’ve have gone so far as to block off time to travel and starting to check out flights, fares and amazing tour opportunities all over the world, some at incredible bargain prices. Perhaps you want to indulge in a luxurious vacation getaway or embark on an African safari.
You are so ready to go. But there’s one thing you might have overlooked. Your passport. Is it travel ready?
This exact question popped into my mind one night when I was lying in bed, right at the point of drifting off, and it chased all thoughts of sleep away. I bolted up, now wide awake, got out of bed and checked my passport.
I was aghast. My passport is set to expire soon and at the same time, I am getting ready to travel again soon.
Can’t leave the country without a passport
So most of us know that in order to travel internationally, you need a valid passport. But, do you know that most countries require that you have enough blank pages in your passport for visas and immigration entry and departure stamps? A visa alone takes up one entire page. So if you are going to be traveling a lot, it is advisable to have at least six blank pages in your passport booklet.
Do you also know that you can be denied entry into a country if your passport expires in less than six months after your departure date from the country you want to visit?
When I checked my passport, I realized two important things. One, my passport has less than six blank pages. Two, my passport is expiring close to the time that I want to travel.
Does any of this sound familiar to you, or is the case with you and your passport? Here is what you should do to avoid any nasty little surprises when you are ready to travel.
Apply for a new passport as soon as possible. Why? Because processing time, as of the date of this article, is taking a long time.
I knew that I could pick up a passport application at my local library. Approved public libraries are among some of the facilities authorized to accept or assist applicants with passport application. Other acceptance facilities include the United States Post Office and approved public universities.
I wasn’t ready to do the paperwork when I visited the library, so I just asked for the form. I spoke with one of the women working at the desk and told her that I travel a lot and hope to travel soon. Her advice was that I apply as soon as possible because of the length of time it is taking to process applications. Well, how long is it taking? I asked. Up to eighteen weeks, she informed me. What?
Steps to take now
Here is what to know about processing time. Routine renewal processing time is about eighteen weeks and will cost you $110. If you complete your application yourself and mail it in, that is how much it will cost you, not including the cost of your passport photo and mailing cost. You will need a passport photo. Passport photos vary in cost, depending on where you get the photos taken.
If you decide to complete your application at a passport acceptance facility, in addition to the $110 that you will pay for routine processing, you will need to pay the facility a separate fee of $35.
If eighteen weeks is too long for you to wait for a new passport, you can choose to expedite your application process. In this case, processing time is more like twelve weeks and will cost an additional $60.
Passport booklets usually contain 24 pages, but if you do a lot of traveling, you may want to request a 52 page booklet. It does not cost extra.
When it comes to payment, you can only pay by check or money order. Cash, credit and debit card payments are not accepted. Checks are to be made out to: U.S. Department of State.
For the most complete, accurate and up-to-date official information about renewing your U.S. passport, please visit: travel.state.gov.
So, if you are ready to travel soon, now is the time examine your passport to make sure that when you are ready to travel, your passport will be ready to travel too.