Monday, December 26, 2016

Time to Get Your New U.S. Passport

2017 will be an extremely busy year with over 20 million passport renewals, 
and more first time passport applications. 

If your passport is within 6 months of expiration 
you need to get the application process underway now! 

U.S. passports for valid for 10 years, and parents need to reminded passports for children 15 years of age or younger are valid for only 5 years. 

New Next Generation Passports 
(Biometric Security)
The new cover contains a small circle between two lines  
which is the symbol for electronic data 

The information page of the new passport will have an embedded data chip with a coating to protect the document from moisture and bending. 

The new chip is supposed to cut down on fraud and forgery, along with new security features such as a watermark. Your passport number will be laser cut as tapered, perforated holes through pages. The new artwork designs on passbook pages will be raised, and page ink will show up as different colors - depending on the viewing angle. 

The State Department opted to give travelers fewer passport pages as of January 2016, and frequent travelers will be required to purchase a new passport when you run out of pages. However if you renew your passport outside of the United States, you will automatically be issued a larger 52-page book - Go figure!    
The new pages have numerous patriotic images such as a portion of the Gettyburg Address, four lines of the "Star Spangled Banner, figures on Mount Rushmoore, the Liberty Bell, Statue of Liberty and even a Totem Pole. And there's also over a dozen inspirational quotes from Presidents John F. Kennedy, LBJ, Dwight Eisenhower, Teddy Roosevelt, and even Martin Luther King.

What your need to know . . . 

U.S. passports should be valid for more than 3 or 6 months BEFORE YOU ENTER some foreign countries

Many travelers are NOT aware that some countries have a 3 or 6 month validity passport rule, and you could be denied entry upon arrival. Each country makes its own entry requirement rules, and these rules can change. Also airline policies vary about how close to expiration your passport can be. 

Some of the Caribbean islands with the six month passport validity rule for U.S. travelers are Antigua/Barbuda, Belize, Bonaire, Cayman Islands, Haiti, St Kitts/Nevis, and St Lucia.  

The (6) month validity rule was put into place for visitors needing to stay for a period up to (6) months, and their passport would be still be valid to leave the country. While the majority of countries require (3) months from the actual travel date before your passport expires, there are countries that have the (6) month policy. 

While checking on passport validity rules before foreign travel, you also need to be aware that some foreign destinations have policies about how many blank pages are left in your passport book before and after stamping.  

Passport Photo Changes:  

As of November 1st, 2016, passport applicants will be required to remove glasses for their passport photo - Find out more about photo requirements here

Passports for Cruise Passengers 

Cruises that begin and end in the U.S. (closed loop cruises) do not require valid passports. 

Passengers cruising to Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean, the Bahamas, and Bermuda are able to re-enter the U. S. with proof of citizenship including an original or certified copy of a government issued birth certificate (raised seal and signature) and a laminated government issued picture ID (driver's license or State ID)

However all major cruise lines strongly recommend you cruise with a valid passport at least 6 months beyond the end of the cruise for the following reasons:

  • If you miss the designated U.S. cruise port departure time and need to meet the ship at the next available port, you will have to present a valid passport to enter a foreign port 
  • Cruisers need to fly home before the cruise ends due to medical, family, personal or business emergencies. The airlines will require a valid passport for you to re-enter the United States by air, and in addition you will illegally be in a foreign country without proper documentation
  • Cruise passengers involuntary removed by the captain from the ship at a foreign port due to misconduct or other reasons
  • If during the cruise you fail to get back to the ship by sailing time at a foreign port of call, you will need a valid passport to enter the cruise port your ship is visiting. 

Start the passport process online - fill out and print the application, and follow instructions from there. 

Need to get your passport renewed right away?
Here's an expedited service I used a few years go when I failed to notice the 6 month validity rule date right before traveling. They were very responsive, allow you to view the process in work, and delivered on time. 

Happy Travels,

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