With all of the rules and regulations surrounding U.S. passports, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed and confused. Take a look at the passport tips we’ve compiled below to help save you time and money!
The basics . . .
First off, do you have a passport? If not, head over to this post and learn all about how to apply for one. If you do have one, make sure it’s valid and acceptable. It’s possible to be denied travel because of your passport if it’s damaged, full, or expired. Be sure to carefully research your destination to see if they require at least six months of passport validity in order to grant entry (a lot of countries do!).
Double (and triple) check your information
In order for a passport to be issued, all documentation and passport photos must meet the regulations. One small mistake will cost you time and money, and will certainly delay the process. Be sure to carefully fill out all documentation, making sure you answer every question, and meticulously check each document before you send it off.
Get a second passport
Those who travel often and find themselves having to continuously send their passport away for visas should consider applying for a second one. This will help you save on the cost of expedited services.
Do you store all of your family’s passports in the same drawer? Have you ever grabbed a passport only to get to the airport and find it was the wrong one? Not a fun surprise! We suggest personalizing each passport in a subtle way, like with small (removable) colored stickers on the back.
Ask for extra pages when you renew
If you run out of pages, your passport could be denied. A trick to make your passport last longer is to simply ask for additional pages each time you renew. Many people don’t know this, but you can choose a 52 page book (versus a 28 page book) for no additional charge. That’s much cheaper than having to request additional pages when you run out!
Be mindful of your blank pages
As mentioned above, the empty pages in your passport are valuable. If you are low on pages, don’t be afraid to politely ask agents not to stamp on certain pages, or to stamp closer to the edge so as not to take up a full page when it isn’t necessary.
Renew your passport in the fall
Early autumn is a time of the year when passport applications are low, before the rush of the holidays. Applying or renewing during this time may result in you getting your passport quicker! Of course, always make sure you renew far in advance of any planned trips in case there are any delays.
When you’re crossing a border, you need your original passport. However, in most other cases, a copy will do. Make a copy of your passport (the photo and signature page) and carry that with you when you’re out and about at your destination. Leave the original safely in your hotel room. The less you have to use your passport in public, the less likely it is to get lost or stolen. For an extra backup, scan your passport and save a copy to your computer or a USB.
Finally, make sure you know what to do in the unfortunate event that you lose your passport. Being prepared and knowledgeable will go a long way toward making a nerve-wracking situation less stressful.