Ready to dust off that passport?
I surely hope you are as ready as I am :) We haven't been using them in over a year, most of us, so I want to share some important passport tidbits, you should know.
What is a passport (book)? How does it differ from a passport card?
A passport (book) is an internationally recognized travel document that verifies your identity and your citizenship. Only the US Department of State, US Embassies, and Consulates have the authority to issue or verify US passports. Most foreign countries require a valid passport to enter and leave.
All US citizens traveling internationally by air must present a valid passport to reenter the US. To cross by land only into Canada or Mexico, you may use a less-expensive passport card, but if you are going to go to the trouble to get a passport card, why not go ahead and get the full thing? For more information on how to apply, read http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/passports/apply.html
INSIGHT! Some countries also require a visa in addition to your passport. China is one of the countries that comes to mind off the top of my head. If you are ever in doubt, do not hesitate to reach out.
Do I need a passport if I’m just taking a Caribbean cruise from a US port?
It’s a really, really good idea, but not a requirement in most situations, although I feel that it should be. When you depart and return to the same US port you must have proof of citizenship, (a passport or your official birth certificate), government-issued ID (driver’s license), plus a copy of your marriage license for anyone whose last name has changed since birth. A passport is a good idea, however, because if an issue should arise while you are abroad, you’ll be covered!
Remember the Gulf of Mexico fiasco? One of the reasons the ship had to be towed all the way to Mobile, AL, extending the misery by an extra day or two, was that the majority of the passengers didn’t have the necessary documentation to be flown home from Mexico…bet you didn’t know that! Also, 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!
BONUS TIP! Make sure your passport does not expire until 6 months after your return date. For example, if you return on January 1, 2020, you'll want to make sure your passport is valid through July 1, 2020.
Can you help me, my passport was stolen?
This is a call no travel advisor likes to get. 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 advisor 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. Let them know when you are scheduled to travel home, and they will do their best to help you. It is also a good idea to take an extra set of passport photos with you to simplify the transaction. 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 has helped brush you up on why having a passport really is the gateway to the world. If you need any assistance with the application process, or have any questions…please feel free to contact me.
Happy Future Traveling,