September is here, bringing slightly cooler weather, football, the beginning of fall fun and passport awareness. Yes, believe it or not, there is a Passport Awareness month, and it is now.
In 2007, U.S. law went into effect, requiring U.S. citizens to have a passport when traveling to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda, areas that previously did not require one. In response to this legislation, many new passports were issued, all of which will be due for renewal in 2017. In fact, nearly 49 million passports are set to expire within the next three years.
Around 15 million passports were issued in 2015, which indicates a continued strong demand for new passports, according to the U.S. Passport Office.
Last year, the State Department began urging travelers to renew early in order to avoid the rush. If you took this advice, great job! You’re on your way to seamless international travel. If you still need to renew, now is definitely the time. Here are the steps to take:
*Determine whether you need a passport book or a passport card. If you will be traveling internationally by air, you must have a passport book. For land border crossings and sea ports-of-entry from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean or Bermuda, you can use a passport card instead. This is a more convenient and less expensive option.
*If you need a new passport, you must apply in person at a passport acceptance facility. You will need a passport application (According to gov, you should NOT sign it!), an original document proving citizenship, an acceptable photo ID document, and a photocopy of the front and back of your photo ID document. You will also need an acceptable passport photo and payment.
*If you have had a passport before, you may be able to renew. Unfortunately, if your previous passport was issued before you turned 16; is more than 15 years old; was damaged, lost or stolen; or was issued in a previous name without a legal document proving the change, you will have to apply for a new one.
*If you need your passport in less than the normal 4-6 weeks processing time, you can expedite the process. If your time frame is less than 2 weeks, you must make an appointment. Slightly longer time frames can be accomplished by mail or at an acceptance facility. Additional fees do apply in each of these options.
Happy September, and happy international travels with your passport in hand!