Passports – Let’s Answer Your Questions
While we all know that you have to have a passport to see the world, many of us have a lot of questions concerning rules and regulations regarding this important document. A clear understanding of this process as well as what a passport is, who needs one, and how to go about obtaining a passport will take the stress and worry out of the process.
Who needs one?
This is an easy one, everyone needs a passport not matter their age. International travel requires that every member of your family, from the youngest to the oldest, must have their own, personal passport. A passport for a child under the age of sixteen is valid for five years and, over sixteen, the valid period extends to ten years. A name change is required if you are recently married or divorced and changing your name. If you passport is damaged, a replacement is required and if all the pages in your passport have been used with validations, additional pages must be inserted by a passport agency.
What is a passport?
A passport is a legal document that validates your identity when entering a foreign country and provides re-entry into your home country when you return. Your picture and specific information about you provide identification to legal authorities both at home and abroad. A passport and a visa are not the same thing. A visa is evidence of your ability to enter a foreign country. If traveling to boarder countries, passport cards can be purchased and are less expensive than a passport. They allow you to travel to boarder countries but only by land or sea. All air travel requires a passport.
Where are they needed and where do you get them?
Every country on the globe requires a passport for entry and re-entry unless as discussed above where passport cards would suffice. Likewise, each country has their own system of government passport agencies and most countries provide online passport services as well.
When is the time frame for getting one?
It can take as long as three months to get a passport. Realizing it is important to get your passport well in advance of your departure date, your planning needs to be done well in advance of your trip. If you have let too much time go by, there are passport expediting services available that can complete the process for you in a shorter period of time. This can be done in person or online. US passport online expediting services provide several different prices depending on the time frame you’re dealing with. For an additional cost, a passport can be received the same day you apply when using one of these services.
Why do you need a passport?
A passport is used to verify your identity and citizenship when traveling or in any other situation where this information is required. When you travel internationally, you need a passport to re-enter the United States. The importance of a passport can not be underestimated as it is the only universally accepted form of identification used around the world. If you lose your passport or think it may have been stolen, you must report it immediately.