Everything You Need to Know About Passports

Traveling can be one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll do with your kids, and when it comes to traveling internationally, there is nothing more important than one tiny little booklet. Your passport is your key to the kingdom, so to speak. Without this, you won’t be able to board a plane, much less get to your desired country. Here, I’ll let you know some of the most frequently asked questions I get and hurdles that you might have to face when dealing with a passport.

everything you need to know about passports

Everything You Need to Know About Passports

passports faq

My passport is my favorite possession! I'm grateful that I have one because I feel like it is one less obstacle standing in my way. With a current passport, you'll be ready for anything!

When do I need to apply for a passport?

Apply early to avoid the stress! Start the process of getting your passport at least two to three months in advance of your trip. It can take several weeks or months just to get an appointment. Heck, start before you even have a trip planned! Getting your passport by mail could take as long as six weeks. If you need it sooner, they do offer expedited options for an additional $60, and you can get it within two weeks. They even have overnight delivery options too. 

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passports everything you need to know

Passport Validity and Remaining Months of Validity

You can find the date of your passport on the data page of your passport book and the front of your passport card. Some countries require your passport to have at least six months beyond the dates of your trip, and some airlines won’t let you board if you don’t have this requirement met. You can find Country Information for all the entry and exit requirements of where you’re traveling here.

Some countries also require that you have at least 2-4 blank pages in your passport. There is an option to apply for a 28 page passport or a 52-page one for the same cost. If you think you might be traveling often, select the larger book. Otherwise, your passport will expire prematurely. 

Fun fact: Canada and Mexico only require that you have a valid passport at the time of entry. Travel to Europe requires six months of validity. 

Do I need Proof of International Travel to Apply?

If you plan to fly internationally, you will need a flight receipt or itinerary to apply. If you travel by land or sea to Canada, the Caribbean, Mexico, or Bermuda, you will need a hotel reservation, cruise ticket, or international car insurance. You will need to provide proof of travel at most agencies IF you want to expedite your passport. Otherwise, you are not required to provide travel plans. You only need to show proof if you are wishing to expedite the process.

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Renewing a Child's Passport 

If you have gotten your kids passports before they were 16, they are good for 5 years. Once a child hits the age of 16, they can apply for an adult passport that will last for 10 years. If your minor child had a child's passport, and they are coming of age and need a new updated passport, this is considered a new passport NOT a renewal. Make sure you read the website thoroughly and fill out the proper forms for a NEW adult passport NOT a renewal. You can use their old passport as part of the identification process, so make sure you bring that with you to the in-person appointment. 

Pro tip: If you get extra passport photos {or have the option to request extra for a nominal fee}, paperclip them to the back of your passport and keep them with your documents. If you travel to a country that requires a visa, these photos are often needed and will make the process easier. 

My passport is damaged, now what?

If your passport has significant damage, such as the book cover or the page displaying your photo and personal information, you must apply for a new passport. Some examples of significant damage include water damage, hole punch, missing pages, unofficial markings on the page, etc. Normal wear and tear, such as the bend of the passport, don’t need to be replaced.

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What is an electronic passport?

An electronic passport is a small circuit or chip embedded in your passport booklet back cover. This chip has the same visually displayed information, a biometric identifier, chip identification number, and digital signature. If at any time the chip fails, it will still work as a valid travel document and like a regular passport without the chip. 

Don't Let it Expire!

Staying on top of your expiration dates and renewing your passport before it expires will make the process that much easier! 

To Expedite or Not to Expedite?

Well my friends, you are going to be renewing your passport early, so this won't be an issue BUT if it is, and you are faced with a looming trip this is a question that will get asked. It does cost extra to expedite your passport and from researching experiences, I wish I could tell you that there was a clear answer. Unfortunately, even those people who pay the extra to expedite their passport get them at the same time or after those who didn't. It really doesn't seem to make a lick of difference.

Looking for Help!

If you have done all the things, and you see that your passport is in process, but doesn't seem to be making any forward momentum and you are desperate, you can reach out to your state representative or congressman for help. Most people see this as a last resort {usually if you are two weeks out from travel}, and it should be, but from what I have gathered, they are generally very helpful and able to help sort out the issues you are running into. It's government at work for you!

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passport questions answered

Pro tip: Have a photo of your passport number and information saved in your phone when you travel. In case any emergency arises you can use that information to help. 

There are so many questions about using a passport that it can be tricky to figure out what you need. The best piece of advice I can give is to look into both the countries you’re traveling to and your passport needs before you go. You might need a Visa or other documents beyond a passport. If you’re looking for more detailed information on passports, don’t forget to check out the Travel State Passport website. This has more information about the cost of your passport, forms, and more!

disclaimer: this post may have affiliate links. By clicking on them and purchasing through them, I may receive a small commission. These small purchases help me to continue to keep writing content and creating at Rachel Teodoro. Thank you!

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