When deciding to travel either domestically or internationally it would serve you well to have a US passport. It is a must for international travel and will circumvent headaches for domestic flights as homeland security moves toward their real ID program. But there are a few issues one needs to concern themselves with when checking their passport to ensure it is valid. Here are a few pointers which can ensure you are able to move through the ticketing lines and get on your plane.
Condition of the Physical Passport
It is important the quality/condition of your passport is in immaculate shape. It cannot be worn, washed, torn, ripped, or otherwise unreadable. This will deemed as a mutilated or damaged passport and the Department of State will require you to renew your passports. Other common issues with the passport which can be indentified at the airport are missing covers, loose binding, water streaks, chipped corners, or the photo is beginning to peel. If you have any of the above issues it is highly recommended you renew your passport as you will be turned away at the airport, the border, or will have issues when you try to re-enter back into the US.
The process for fixing a damaged/mutilated passport book is to apply for a new passport. This is completely different than a renewal and requires the applicant to appear before a Passport acceptance agent and have their documents verified, then sealed. Passport acceptance agents are found at most US post offices. However, it is highly advised to call the respective post office before arriving.
View all the Pages in the Passport
If you are going to a country where you will need a visa stamps you MUST have a full blank page and it MUST say visa page on top of the page. Now, some countries will stamp the visa over other countries stamps and some will stamp on the amendment page, BUT this is risky and I would not count your luck on this happening. It is also important to note, that some countries require two side by side blank pages. Russia, Saudi Arabia, and South Africa are some countries who come to mind. So it is important to check through your passport to make sure you have blank pages and if you need to have two side by side, you have this.
If you do not have pages, you will need to add pages to your passport. Most passport books can have pages added at least twice and sometimes it can be three times. However, if your passport cannot have pages added, the Department of State will ask you to renew your passport.
What is this 6 months or I can’t Enter?
Countries and US Department of State regulations are very strict on the validity of a passport. It must have 6 months left on the passport prior to departure. This is known to many as the 6 month rule and has/will cause many of trips to be averted if not followed. I cannot tell you how many calls we receive a day from clients at the airport, tremendously upset that they will miss their trip. I am telling you from experience, if you are getting close, you will need to renew your passport. Passports can be renewed well in advance of its expiration date so as long as you are on top of the dates.
The renewing of a minor passport is a little more complicated and will require additional steps. These steps can be found on our webpage.
In closing, it is very important to check through your passport so you do not miss your trip or event. If you have any questions regarding your passport validity, please do not hesitate to contact us. We can view your passport and give you our assessment.