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Preparing for a vacation is always a little stressful: so much to consider, so much to plan for! And without a doubt, one of (if not THE) most common questions we are asked is “Do I REALLY need a passport to travel?”
So, let’s break down who needs a passport – and when – and then talk about the process of obtaining one.
DO YOU NEED A PASSPORT?
Well, that all depends on WHERE and HOW you are traveling!
TRAVELING BY AIR?
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) REAL ID Act of 2018, made changes as to what type of ID you need when traveling by air (both within and outside the United States). One thing you can expect is that residents of some states will need a passport when flying within the United States.
It’s always a good idea to bring your passport to every foreign country you visit, including Canada, Mexico and U. S. Territories (even though they are not foreign countries). You wouldn’t always need to have your passport to enter Puerto Rico, the U. S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, or the North Mariana Islands. But these news regulations mean that, depending on which state issued your driver’s license or state ID, you may be required to show a passport to fly domestically. This is because the REAL ID Act instituted requirements for what information must be displayed on ID’s used for air travel. If your state ID doesn’t comply with the required information, you’ll have to present a U.S. Passport at airport security. Before booking air travel, then, you will want to check whether your state ID is complying.
TAKING A CRUISE?
A passport is not required (as of April 2019) for U. S. citizens taking what is called a “closed loop” cruise. This is a term that refers to a cruise itinerary which begins and ends at the same U. S. location (for example: you depart and return to the Port of Miami). U. S. citizens taking a “closed loop” cruise, traveling without a passport, will need proof of citizenship such as:
Guests are also required to present a valid, government-issued photo ID (such as a driver’s license) in addition to the proof of citizenship. Children are also required to bring proof of citizenship and, if 16 or over, a valid photo ID is also required.
NOTE: Only U. S. citizens can sail using a valid Proof of Citizenship along with a government issued photo ID. Canadian and Bermudian citizens must have a passport for air, land and sea travel. Birth certificates from Puerto Rico issued prior to July 1, 2010 are not valid forms of proof of citizenship that is accepted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Guests from Puerto Rico either need to present a WHTI-compliant document or a government-issued photo identification with a validated birth certificate issued after July 1, 2010.
The following are NOT accepted forms of ID:
WHO SHOULD HAVE A PASSPORT?
The following U. S. citizens should maintain valid U. S. passports:
Now, let’s face it: getting a passport can be a bit of a pain and there is, of course, an expense.
Here are the basic steps required for first-time passports:
Step 1: Start Early - Gather Documents
Apply for your passport several months before your trip. First-time applicants, minors, and applicants who may not renew by mail may submit their passport application at the Post Office. The U.S. State Department website explains what you'll need to bring with you.
Step 2: Prepare Your Application Package
Visit the U.S. Department of State website to learn how to apply for a passport and what documents you need.
Step 3: Find a Post Office
Post Offices have set hours for passport services. Many require an appointment. Use the Find USPS Locations tool to find the nearest Post Office offering passport services.
TO RENEW YOUR PASSPORT, visit PASSPORT RENEWAL https://www.usa.gov/passport#item-34907
Need a Passport in a Hurry?
Leaving Within 2-3 Weeks: To get a new passport application processed within 2–3 weeks, submit your application at a passport acceptance Post Office and pay for expedited processing and 1–2-day delivery service for faster return shipping.
First-time passport applications have two types of basic fees, the application acceptance fee and the application processing fee. Passport photos and fees for faster processing are extra.
Application Acceptance Fees – Postal Service
Pay acceptance fees in person at the Post Office. You may pay by check or money order, payable to "Postmaster," debit card, or credit card.
State Department payment is sent with your application package. State Department fees are paid separately from USPS fees.
Don’t get left behind: make sure you have the proper identification to travel! Those who fail to have the required documents will be denied boarding for travel.
Before you travel:
Please visit: https://www.usa.gov/passport for more information!
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Terie & Dan
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