With increased security measures when flying, foreign travelers are required more often now to carry a passport. If you don’t have a passport, it is a good idea to get one even if you don’t have any international travel plans for the near future. Even if you were issued one, it needs to be updated every 10 years or if it was first issued when you were under 16. It’ll save you time in case you decide to book an international flight. Don’t forget, even Canada requires a passport to cross the border in your car!
Where to Get a Passport
Local motor vehicle and driver’s license offices usually provide passport services as well as the U.S. Passport Agency at the Federal Building in Minneapolis. Some local private services also provide application services that can help you expedite the process in a pinch. You may even qualify to renew your passport by mail.
Keeping it Safe
As you travel internationally, your U.S passport will be an important document to keep with you. You might be surprised that many hotels may keep or copy your passport for their records to document your legitimacy as an approved traveler. If possible, offer your driver’s license as a substitution, it is easier to replace. Don’t leave your it as collateral.
Of course you’ll want to protect yourself against theft. Many hotels provide a safe either in your room or behind the front desk to secure your important documents. There is also a thin pouch with a strap that you can wear under your clothing to keep your passport on you while you travel, but impossible to lose.
Savvy travelers also make a color copy of their passport to keep with them. It may make it easier to prove your identity for official or non-official purposes, especially if your passport is lost or stolen and you are visiting the U.S. Embassy to have a new one issued. Some travelers have even start taking a photo of their travel documents and credit cards with their phones!
Pay attention to your expiration date when planning travel not only to see if you are cleared to travel internationally for the date you leave, but also how long your passport is valid for once you reach the destination country. Did you know that most countries require three months of validity PAST your travel date just in case you need to stay for an unexpected emergency. Some countries actually require six months, like France. Check out the requirements for your destination here.
Your U.S. Passport opens a world of possibilities to you and lets your explore new countries. Maybe getting a passport will motivate you to book that international trip you’ve always wanted to take!