HOW TO RENEW A U.S. PASSPORT
You can renew your passport by mail, using form DS-82 and submitting a new 2×2 inch photograph, if your most recent passport meets these five requirements:
• Is submitted with your application
• Is undamaged (other than normal “wear and tear”)
• Was issued when you were age 16 or older
• Was issued within the last 15 years
• Was issued in your current name (or you can document your name change with an original or certified copy of your marriage certificate, divorce decree, or court order)
If your passport doesn’t meet those criteria, you’ll have to renew by applying in person using form DS-11, and follow the same steps that are required for obtaining a brand new passport (see above).
Traveling internationally within the next two weeks? You’ll have to renew your passport at a Passport Acceptance Facility. (You can find the nearest office near you at travel.state.gov.) To avoid waiting in line all day, make an appointment online in advance.
Your passport doesn’t have to be expired for you to renew it. In fact, some countries require that your passport be valid at least six months beyond the dates of your trip, says Tammy Levent, CEO at Elite Travel Management Group (elitetravelgroup.net). As a result, Levent says the biggest mistake U.S. international travelers can make is waiting until the last minute to renew their passport.
GET A PASSPORT BOOK—NOT A CARD
Another common mistake people make, Levent says, is obtaining a passport card instead of a passport book. Passport cards are a lot cheaper—the application and execution fees combined is only $65 for adults 16 and older—but they’re not valid for international air travel; they’re only acceptable for land and sea border crossings between the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, and the Caribbean.
The last update is safety. We have said it almost every time we talk about international travel and we will say it again. Do not trust your personal safety to media coverages of media reports. I often refer to something I learned back when I first entered the world of travel. 99% of satisfied travelers never report satisfaction to anyone. 49% of dissatisfied travelers report dissatisfaction to more than 1 person. Simply put it means you can always find complaints about anyplace if you look for them. It is much harder to find compliments. The same holds true for unsafe experiences. One incident may get reported in all the media, but 1000 satisfied travelers are never heard from in any media. The US government is your best source for safety evaluations. They have set standards that are applied every time and in every situation, and are very quick to update safety news in every part of the world. Most important contact your professional Travel Advisor. He or she can find the latest safety information for you and there is NEVER a charge to do that, whether you book with us or not. Just ask, we are here to help.