Traveling around the world is not an endeavor one can embark on without proper planning. You don’t just need to source the resources you need to enable you to secure your tickets and accommodation, but also you need to have the proper documents that will see you not get into trouble with the law enforcement officers. It goes without saying that you will need this small but vital document for your travels to most countries and it is imperative upon you to check that it is in good condition and always ready for use.
In this piece, we highlight to you certain tips worth considering when you are thinking about renewing your US passport. These tips will save you a lot of time, money and energy during the process of passport renewal. But allow us to observe that American passport is very powerful and will give you access to very many countries without the need for a visa. If you are headed to countries like Canada, you will only require the Canada ETA to access.
Renew Your Passport Ahead of Time
One secret for having a hassle-free passport renewal is to start the process ahead of time. Waiting till its late or for the actual date which you must renew the passport may come with certain inconveniences that might upset your traveling plans. In the United States, passport validity issued to adults after their 16th birthdays usually is ten years.
It is advisable that you renew the passport at least six months before the expiration date. Otherwise, you may find the need to rush the renewal process or even consider using expedited passport renewal services.
Dealing With The Paperwork
About the paperwork, there isn’t a lot as far as renewing your US passport is concerned. But you must still take the paperwork seriously and do it to the best of your knowledge. One of the best ways to jumpstart the renewal process is to fill the passport renewal forms from the US Department of States websites then print them and send them by mail.
But if you have the time and you can afford to spend waiting in line down at the office, then you can make the application at the nearest passport agency office. But why would you consider this hectic route when you can simply send your forms via mail and have everything processed?
If you desire to have expedited passport renewal services, but you don’t want to use the services of an approved expeditor, simply write “Expedite” on the outside of the envelope before sending the application by mail. When you do it this way, the US Department of State will know that you need it urgently and the processing will be expedited provided that you pay the necessary fees.
Don’t Fall For the Photo Trap
With the passport renewal, you will be required to take a new passport photo. There are clear guidelines about how this photo should be taken. Though the guidelines may not be stringent, it is imperative to observe all of them or your application will risk being withheld until you send the right photos.
Basically, the picture should be 2 inches by 2 inches, and it should be taken in front of a white background. It should also be clear enough, and you must not have glasses, headgear (unless for religious purposes). Additionally, you should not make any facial expressions such as laughing or smiling. Violating any of these guidelines may see your photo rejected and this may cause your passport renewal process to delay.
About Passport Renewal Services
There are agencies offering passport services, both for fresh applications and renewals. Most people prefer to use these services when they need expedited passport renewal or applications, and this is one of the avenues worth considering if you don’t want to start the renewal process early. With such services, you present your application with all the supporting documents to them then they will hand-carry and deliver your application to the US Department of States and get a confirmation after a short while.
They hasten the process because they hand-deliver your application. This is unlike when you apply through the post office, where it may take a few days before the application is processed. If you have to use these services, be sure to research the agency and ensure that you deal only with the reputable ones.
Know If You Need Extra Pages On Your Passport
The standard passport in the United States comes with 28 blank pages for visas and stamps. If you anticipate that you will travel more, then you should not go for this one, but instead, opt for the one with 52 pages. This comes at no additional costs, and if you see yourself utilizing all those pages before the next renewal is due, you can pay an $82 for extra 48 pages, so that you have a 100-page passport.
About Same-Day Renewals and True Emergencies
You may make use of expedited passport renewal without the help of the third-party agencies if you have a true emergency and need to get the passport as soon as possible or within a day of application. It is possible to have your passport renewed in a last-minute situation, and this will cost you $170. The best way to go about this is to make an appointment with the passports office.
You may not need a prior appointment in case of an emergency and most of them will allow walk-ins, though you will be expected to wait. In a death or life travel emergency situation, you can call the US Department of State National Passport Information Center and tell of your need for an expedited renewal, and you will get help. The number to call is 1-877-487-2778 during business hours.
What To Do If You Lose Your Passport Or It Is Stolen
If you lose your passport or it gets stolen, you must report to the US Department of State through the official website that it was lost or stolen. You will then have an appointment with the passport agency where you will then apply for a replacement of a lost or a stolen passport in person. Remember, this will be a new application, and the necessary fees will apply. Also, know that you cannot renew your passport unless you have the old one.
If you are planning a trip to North America for the holidays or just to visit during summer vacation, we welcome you to our continent – just make sure your passport is in order! 🙂