Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Passport Processing Times Make Planning Necessary

Your passport is your lifeline to travel beyond US borders. While you can use an Enhanced Driver's License (depending the state you originate from) to travel to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda by land or sea; you'll need to get a valid U.S. passport for trips outside the USA.

Think ahead before traveling abroad, especially when you expect to snap up a deal or two. According to the U.S. Department of State website, it takes four to six weeks to get your passport, so grabbing those last-minute flights to Paris on your way to a luxury hotel won't be a possibility if you don't think ahead. Even an expedited application still takes three weeks to process, so your best bet is to get a passport now--they are valid for ten years for anyone over 16.

To apply for your passport, you can visit most U.S. Post Offices, the U.S. Department of State, or some local courthouses or libraries. You will need to provide a certified copy of your birth certificate with your application, which has been cited as the most common issue with longer processing times. You can't use a photocopied certificate or other hospital paperwork: the certificate needs to be original and state-issued. You will also need to include two identical, passport-sized photos, a completed DS-11 form (available at the U.S. Department of State's website, the application fee, and the above-mentioned identity document. If you were not born in the United States, you can include a U.S. Naturalization Certificate or a Certification of Citizenship.

As of June 1, 2009, U.S. citizens will be required to have a valid passport for land, sea, and air travel to and from the United States. The passport card may only be used for land crossings or at ports of entry in Canada, Mexico, the Bahamas, and the Caribbean--not for international air travel. 

Besides that passport, don't forget that travel to many international locations also requires a tourist visa, which can be obtained through the consulate of the country you are visiting.

No comments:

Post a Comment