Are Passports Required for Cruises?

Do you need a passport for a cruise?

A cruise ship

Well… It depends. Nothing is worse than booking plans or getting surprised with a vacation only to find out you’ll need a passport to travel. What’s worse? When you need a passport but don’t have one, or find out it’s expired at the last minute! Well for cases like that, you can always contact The Passport Office– But what if you don’t need a passport?

While in most cases all international flights require a valid US Passport to be presented at the time of boarding, there is one method of transportation where this isn’t always the case.Cruises! Cruises are a bit different from a flight, considering you spend the majority of the time on a cruise ship in international waters after all. Depending on where your destination is, and where you board from, you might not need a passport to get past the port and onto your cruise!

Cruises which do not require passports.

For one, we can assume that if you are boarding a cruise that isn’t making any stops abroad that you won’t be needing a passport. A valid ID or birth certificate should work in this case. However, there are cruises that basically spend their time in US territory but will technically require you to have a passport because of where they begin. For example, many Alaskan cruises depart from Vancouver, Canada, and because Canada is very much not the USA you would be required to present a passport to make it to the gangway.

Closed loop cruises (Cruises that begin and end in the USA, but may make stops abroad along the way) oftentimes don’t require a valid US passport depending on the destinations. For example, while most Disney cruises go to international locations, these locations tend to be owned and operated by the Disney cruise line. That means that they are tightly secured and oftentimes on islands separate from the greater country you are actually visiting. Because of this, you won’t need to present a passport for most Disney cruises.

This is also true for most cruise lines that go to the Caribbean, though we always encourage everyone to check with your cruise lines to confirm! Policies can change at a moment’s notice, and this can be because of international law, US Department of State regulations, or even just cruise line policy! Even if a country or the US doesn’t legally require you to present a passport, a cruise line can always enforce stricter rules on their private property.

In the cases where a passport might be needed, oftentimes they are simply needed to disembark and re-embark. Meaning that as long as you don’t intend to leave the cruise ship until you return to your initial destination, you should be able to board and enjoy the cruise (just not the stops along the way).

Cruises that Require Passports

Cruises that begin in the USA but end in a port outside of the USA will require a passport in almost all cases. Alternatively, a passport card could be used if you are traveling to a country that accepts them. Other than that, as mentioned above, cruises can require a passport to be presented as an ID regardless if the country you are traveling to requires a passport. This could be for a variety of reasons, consider if there are rough seas, a ship might try to make an impromptu stop at a port not listed on your itinerary that might require a passport be held for every passenger!

What to do if you Need a Passport

If you’ve got plans booked for a cruise that does require you top have a passport and need that process sped up– Look no further! The Passport Office processing speeds as fast as 3-5 business days! Our Orlando Passport Office offers walk-in service for all those in need of an urgent passport.

Passport Cards: How and Where to Get One

Many of us who have ever had a passport are familiar with them, palm sized bluebooks that contain an unflattering mugshot and some empty pages to fill with travel stamps, fewer have heard of a passport card. Beginning in 2008, the US Department of State began issuing another form of passport. These new passports were smaller, easier to carry, and initially meant to be a cheaper and easier alternative to the typical passport book. Passport cards were intended to be used as an official form of identification for all travelers following a requirement for those traveling by plane, think of them as the initial ‘real ID’ driver’s licenses which states only recently began to issue. 

Things haven’t shaped up the way the USDA intended. For most, a passport card isn’t even something they consider when applying for a passport. In fact, many Americans aren’t even aware of what a passport card is or where they can use it to travel! This leads to many situations where passport applicants apply for a passport card when they really need a passport book! So let’s navigate the reasoning behind getting a passport card, and when you should consider getting one!

Passport Card Travel Usage

First and foremost, a passport card has limits placed on it compared to a traditional passport book. A passport card can ONLY be used for land and sea travel to Canada, Mexico, and countries located within the Caribbean. This is important because you cannot board a plane using a passport card if you intend to travel to one of the countries listed above. Passport books are required for all transit via air! This one fact might make obtaining a passport card seem obsolete for most, and in many cases you don’t really need to acquire a passport card if you don’t need one. 

There are some niche cases where owning a passport card can prove to be an advantage. For one, those who live near the US/Mexico or US/Canada border who transit over regularly by land may want a passport card for its ease of use. Passport cards are not stamped, and therefore have unlimited usage. This goes for those using a passport card to travel by sea as well! Boat captains, or those who work on cruises may find it more useful to carry and use their passport card for the entire duration of its 10 year validity, rather than using their passport book until they’ve exhausted all of its pages! One more benefit of a passport card, even for those who are not traveling by land or sea, is the fact that it’s an ID. If you are abroad and don’t want to carry your passport book with you to prove your age, you can whip out your passport card which will be accepted all the same.

Acquiring a Passport Card

Obtaining a passport card isn’t much different than obtaining a normal passport. The same application requirements apply. A passport card can be purchased in addition to your passport book for an additional $30 (for an adult) or $15 (for a child). 

Issues with Passport Cards

The main issue with passport cards is when you forget that you had one! A lot of adventurous travelers originally applied for their passport cards when they were initially issued in 2008. Since passport cards don’t have many use cases, many of these original applicants and those who followed ended up misplacing or losing their passport cards. The issue arises when it comes time to renew their passports. If someone has been issued a passport card they must submit the passport card every time they attempt to process a passport renewal. This applies even if the applicant is not trying to renew their passport card. 

As one can imagine, this leads to issues when applicants are unaware of this quirk. Oftentimes, people forget they even had a passport card because they never used it! Alternatively, if an applicant cannot find their passport card, they can report it as lost/stolen on their passport application. Doing this will waive the requirement to present the passport card for renewal, however this may lead to you being issued a temporary issue passport if the applicant has lost other passport documents in the past. All this to say: DO NOT apply for a passport card if you don’t need one or if you don’t think you can keep it safe for 10 years!

Expedited Passport Card Requirements

To be eligible to apply for our expedited passport service, you’ll need to be traveling within 14 days of the day you apply. That means you’ll either need to have a flight ticket, cruise itinerary, or business letter that clearly states your name and date of departure. Proof of travel is required to ensure that those who are applying for rush service meet the federal requirements of what constitutes an ‘emergency’. If you have any questions about your specific situation, or if you need to apply for a visa to a foreign country, we ask that you inquire by contacting us by phone during normal business hours. 

Beyond those requirements, you’ll also need to have the normal passport requirements for whatever your process is. For renewals, you’ll just need your previous passport as well as passport photos and the DS-82 passport renewal application. New passport applicants will have to provide proof of citizenship, ID, passport photos, and the DS-11 passport application. Child applicants have the same requirements as new passport applicants, but both of their parents must be present and be able to provide a valid ID.

Get started today by placing an order with The Passport Office!

Passport Service Coming to Broward County

Getting a passport has not been so easy since “unprecedented” times began in earlier 2020. For a few months following the initial lockdown, all passport processing services were halted. Not only that but pending applications were placed on hold, meaning everyone who did apply for a passport before lockdown was forced to wait until after lockdown to finalize the process. The stoppage on passport processing also affected private couriers, meaning that for a good while there was no way to apply for passport service.

Fast forward to now, travel restrictions have been widely lifted, and Americans are eager to venture abroad once again. Naturally, stopping people from applying for passports did not decrease the amount of potential applicants, it just forced them to wait. Now with the doors open for passport applicants again everyone is applying, and being short staffed the federal government is unable to take this sudden rush of applications. The United States Department of State’s backlog goes so far back that applications are taking 8-11 weeks to process. But don’t worry, if you need a passport back a little faster you can always get it back in a brisk 5-7 weeks instead.

Current Passport Services Offered in Broward

As it stands, the current passport services being offered in Broward county encompass the typical fair. You can currently apply for a new passport at any participating post office, municipal, or court house. Not all of these location types offer passport services, you may find a full list of locations in Broward County here. Once you’ve located a place to apply and determined whether an appointment is required, you can visit them and apply for one of two services. You can either opt for the standard processing speed of 8-11 weeks or the slightly faster expedited service which takes about 5-7 weeks. Neither of these service times include shipping times or any time required to resolve errors with an application. Not a very good option for impromptu travelers, or those trying to plan a trip around when they will receive their passport. 

Alternatively, if you are traveling within 14 days, you have the option of contacting the US Department of State. They, however, do not have an office located in Broward. Their only Florida based location is in Miami, and even if you are within 14 days of travel there’s no guarantee that an appointment will be available in the Miami location. This might mean you’ll have to travel out of state to get your passport rushed! The brightside is that if you do get an appointment your passport will be completed on the day of your appointment. 

Getting an appointment is easier said than done. While the US Department of State used to allow customers to book an appointment online, that was changed during the height of the pandemic. Scalpers were using bots to book all of the State Department’s appointments and then turning around and selling them to desperate travelers. This wasn’t okay, so to combat this, the State Department now only books appointments to those who call them and provide confirmation of their travel plans. 

Broward Passport Service is Getting Better!

The worst part is, those government services are not guaranteed to be available, and a variety of factors play into whether your application gets processed in a timely manner. However, what is guaranteed are the services provided by us, The Passport Office. As a third party passport expeditor, we can guarantee the delivery of your passport in as little as 5 business days. What’s more is that we’ll offer you concierge services, guiding you through the process so your application goes through without a hitch. 

For the longest time our only office in South Florida was located in Miami. This meant that to use our services, you’d either need to come see us in-person (and make the long drive to Miami) or apply online, which might unnerve the more wary type. Luckily for those in the greater South Florida area, we’ll be opening up a brand new office in Hollywood within the next few weeks, right in time for the Summer travel season. That means our passport service expertise will be easily accessible to those in Broward county!

We make applying for a passport easy. Applications might leave you asking questions about what information you should or shouldn’t include, but when you work with us we take the uncertainty out of the equation. We’ll fill out your passport applications for you! Not only that but we provide passport photos as well.

Expedited Passport Requirements

To be eligible to apply for our expedited passport service, you’ll need to be traveling within 14 days of the day you apply. That means you’ll either need to have a flight ticket, cruise itinerary, or business letter that clearly states your name and date of departure. Proof of travel is required to ensure that those who are applying for rush service meet the federal requirements of what constitutes an ‘emergency’. If you have any questions about your specific situation, or if you need to apply for a visa to a foreign country, we ask that you inquire by contacting us by phone during normal business hours. 

Beyond those requirements, you’ll also need to have the normal passport requirements for whatever your process is. For renewals, you’ll just need your previous passport as well as passport photos and the DS-82 passport renewal application. New passport applicants will have to provide proof of citizenship, ID, passport photos, and the DS-11 passport application. Child applicants have the same requirements as new passport applicants, but both of their parents must be present and be able to provide a valid ID.

Your Vaccine Passport – Tampa

Vaccine Card Rendering

We all know what a normal passport is for, international travel requires that all citizens of all sovereign nations hold a passport when traveling between countries. However with the pandemic entering its third year, many jurisdictions within the United States have been requiring citizens to vaccinate to access certain amenities. Some countries have even begun issuing vaccine mandates for all tourists looking to travel to their territory. The colloquialism for this vaccine requirement is called a “vaccine passport”.

With the omicron variant escalating case numbers to those unseen since 2020, there are worries that the vaccine passport requirements might expand. There are even some worries that the current presidential administration might expand the requirement to all domestic travel. Let’s take a closer look at the why’s and where’s of vaccine passports, and how you can comply or avoid having to use them.

Vaccine Passports and Private Business

For those in some states, vaccine passports are becoming required for entry to some restaurants. These requirements are only present in more Covid cautious states, such as New York and California. In states like these, you might even be required to carry around your vaccination card to enter restaurants. However don’t be surprised if private businesses require the usage of a vaccination card to gain entry into their business regardless of mandates. 

Government powers aside, private businesses have the right to deny service to anyone for any reason that doesn’t discriminate against one’s race/religion/or sexual orientation. Not only that, but the supreme court has struck down religious exemptions to various vaccine mandates across the country. What that means is that even if you believe you are being discriminated against for not following a private business’s covid safety guidelines, if you’ve not been vaccinated for a religious reason, your case won’t hold any water in court or with the police. 

The bottomline when it comes to private enterprise is that the owner of said business can ask you to comply with whatever guidelines they wish for you to receive service. In most cases, nothing is compelling you to use their business’s services, and as such you aren’t going to be able to argue your way around a private business’s self-imposed mandate regardless of what the state law says.

Vaccine Passports and Travel

Thus far, airlines have begun to scale back their initial pandemic safety incentives. Delta for example initially kept the middle seat open in every row for about a year, and what a good year that was for Delta passengers. Things have unfortunately gone back to normal for Delta, and while you are still required to wear a mask at all times, you’ll be butting elbows with your fellow passengers one again. One thing they haven’t instituted as of yet is a vaccination requirement.

However many safety concerns, especially around the most recent holiday season, have begun to question this decision. In fact many are calling for vaccination requirements for all flights, both foreign and domestic. Airlines are no doubt delaying this for as long as possible, as alienating potential passengers would be a disservice to shareholders. Not only that, but the string of violent assaults against flight attendants and other staff has created an environment where instituting even stricter requirements might just escalate the number of violent cases further.

All this is to say that airlines probably won’t be trying to enforce vaccine card requirements unless the federal or state governments began demanding it. Airlines already have to follow these guidelines when flying to foreign countries that do have vaccination requirements. Should case numbers not die down, you could expect similar requirements to be instituted in the United States.

Avoiding Vaccine Passport Requirements

If you are dead set on avoiding the vaccine and furthermore the vaccine passport requirements we just outlined, you have some options. For one, several states have very lax covid policies, instead deciding to give civilians the freedom to decide their own level of risk exposure to the virus. States like Florida for example have next to no restrictions on travel and have been very lenient with mask mandates during the duration of the pandemic. 

When it comes to avoiding constant testing and international vaccination requirements, the simple solution is to fly domestically. There are several US territories that while exotic, still don’t require a vaccine passport. Not only that, but they won’t require a US passport either. If you were looking into traveling to the Bahamas or anywhere in the Caribbean, why not try Puerto Rico for example? It’s still part of the United States, so it has plenty of infrastructure for handling tourism, but you also benefit from not having to do all the pre-flight testing you might have to do when flying abroad. Not only that, but the money you spend in a US territory stays within the US economy, so it’s a win-win!

One thing we will definitely caution against is the purchasing of an illegal vaccination card. It’s fine if you decide not to get vaccinated, it means you won’t be able to access certain businesses or fly abroad in some cases, but it’s your decision at the end of the day. What isn’t okay is using a fraudulently acquired vaccination card to gain access to amenities you’ve been denied. Doing so is a federal offense carrying a penalty of up to 5 years in prison. The pandemic may have everyone feeling a little trapped at home, but being trapped in prison is a whole other level. 

When You do Have Your Vaccine Passport

If you already have both vaccines you basically have your covid passport. The vaccination card you received at the time of receiving your first dose will be what you show to various authorities who demand it. If you lose your vaccination card at any point, you can always request a new one from your vaccine provider. The CDC does not keep a record of who has or hasn’t received the vaccine, meaning that there is no online database the government has to track vaccinations, only smaller databases provided by medical practitioners. That means you’ll want to hang on to that card to avoid any delays when it comes to receiving a new one!

While it isn’t as sophisticated as the schengen-area vaccine passport which has an entire database and digital system for the recording and tracking of vaccination, that vaccination card is just as good. You can use it to prove your vaccination status to any relevant authorities.

When a Vaccine Passport Isn’t Enough

Passport Image

However, having a vaccine passport usually isn’t nearly enough for travel, you’ll also need a US Passport! If you’ve got plans to travel in 2022 and you haven’t applied for your passport yet, we recommend that you get started. Passport processing times are currently taking months, and appointments at local passport offices and State Department Agencies are long. 
If you can’t wait months or apply locally, try applying with The Passport Office. Our private service guarantees the delivery of your passport within the time frame you select. Not only that, but we are one of the few online and in-person rush passport providers that offers new passports and child passports in the Tampa area. While others can only assist with the processing of passport renewals, The Passport Office of Tampa provides concierge service to those applying for their first time. So whether you are a seasoned traveler, or boarding your first plan in two weeks, we can help expedite your passport application in record time.

Checking Your Passport Status

A US passport
Get more information on your current Passport Status

As a private courier, one of the questions we get asked the most over the phone is “can I check my passport status?” While in most cases, these callers aren’t clients of ours, we freely offer advice about how to get more information regarding their passports and pending passport applications. As mentioned though, we aren’t the avenue that most people process their applications through. So where can someone go check on their passport status without having to hassle through a phone call?

Today, we’ll be going through the steps you’ll need to take to determine the status of your passport. Additionally, we’ll be going over some lesser known facts about seeking more information on your application, and what avenues can and cannot yield you useful information.

Check the Passport Status of a Pending Application

If you’d like to get more information regarding a pending passport application, there’s one place to go. Travel.State.Gov offers an online passport status check system. All you have to do is enter the name listed on the application, along with your social security number, and date of birth. The downside is that this status check doesn’t give you much pertinent information. At most it’ll let you know if the passport has been received, is processing, or if the application has been suspended.

This can leave a lot of people frustrated. If you need more up to date information, you could consider calling the US Department of State directly. The US Department of State is the federal department that handles all passport applications. If you contact them directly at 877-487-2778, you might be able to talk to an agent who can give you more information. 

An Important Note Regarding Passport Processing Centers:

We often receive calls from disgruntled passport applicants who have applied through traditional means to get their passport processed. Whether they applied through a post office or courthouse, they are pining for more info regarding their pending application. Oftentimes this leads to them contacting the place they applied for their passport in, however more often than not, these acceptance facilities have no more information than they do regarding the application. 

Passport application centers are not the places where your application is processed. Unless you are applying directly through the US Department of State in one of their few locations, the place you applied for your passport in is just an office that has the authority to submit your application. They do not have any more insight into your pending application then you would have by going to travel.state.gov. If you need more assistance your only choice is to contact the US Department of State directly, and if at that point you still need more information, you’ve already exhausted all avenues.

Checking the Validity of Your Passport

For those simply interested in checking the status of an existing passport, the process is rather simple. If you’d like to know if a passport is still valid, simply check the information page on your passport booklet or card. There should be an issue date, sometimes abbreviated as ISS, and an expiration date, sometimes abbreviated as EXP. If the date exceeds your passport’s expiration date, your passport will expire. It should also be mentioned that in most cases, you cannot travel to another country if your passport is within 3 months of expiring, so if that’s the case, get your passport renewed right away!

If you’ve lost your passport, you’ll have to get a new one. But if you’re curious as to whether that lost or stolen passport is still valid, you can figure it out by remembering the year you applied for the passport in question. A passport obtained by someone 16 or older is valid for 10 years, while passports obtained by minors younger than 16 are valid for 5 years. So once you recall the year the passport was issued, figure out how old you were at the time of application, and just add 5 or 10 years accordingly. 

If you’ve already reported your passport lost or stolen via the US Department of State, your passport has been cancelled, and you cannot travel on it. Attempting to do so may even get you detained for questioning, especially if you reported the passport as stolen. This means that you should only report your passport as lost or stolen if you are sure that the passport isn’t somewhere you can find it!

If Your Passport Is No Longer Valid, Consider Applying!

If your passport has expired, you should consider applying for a passport renewal. Not having a passport might not seem like a big deal, but if you get sprung on by surprise trip it can take between 12-18 weeks to receive your passport. Don’t get stuck waiting months for your passport in the mail, apply if or when your passport expires to save yourself a potential headache. 

If you just realized that your passport is expired, and you do have a trip planned, don’t worry! There are options to get your passport back in less than 12 weeks. For example, if you can get an appointment with the US Department of State, you might be able to get your passport back the same day. Unfortunately, due to the influx of applications, the US Department of State is very backed up right now. The only way to get an appointment is to call their number, 877-487-2778, and the average wait time once on hold is about 2 hours. 


Don’t want to wait 2 hours to maybe get an appointment? No problem, The Passport Office has got you covered. Our services have been available since 1995, and since then we’ve been offering expedited passport services to worried travelers. Even with the pandemic raging on, we can provide passport turnaround within 3-5 business days. The best part? You don’t need an appointment, just walk-in to one of our several locations to get started. You can also place an order online and ship your documents directly to us. The Passport Office makes your passport process easy.

What is a Vaccine Passport?

mRNA vaccine vial
A mRNA vaccine vial

With the pandemic raging on for over a year now, new laws have been introduced to ensure the safety of travelers. One of the most prevalent requirements for travel being talked about right now are vaccine passports. But just what is a vaccine passport?

Even before the term became popular, proof of immunization was required to enter certain countries. For example, traveling to some African countries might require proof of vaccination for yellow fever. This is to ensure that the traveler is safe from deadly disease, but also so that those who might catch a disease but remain asymptomatic don’t transmit the disease upon return. This is the purpose of obtaining a vaccine passport.

A vaccine passport isn’t like a standard passport in the traditional sense. With a standard passport application, documentation must be submitted in order to establish identity and proof of citizenship. Unlike this, a vaccine passport is just proof of having been vaccinated. This does mean that for the covid-19 vaccine, you’ll need at least two weeks to become immunized due to the booster shot scheduling, so plan accordingly.

Those who have already been inoculated against Covid-19 are probably already familiar with the CDC immunization card issues at the time of your vaccination. This is essentially your vaccine passport. That small card works as proof to show that you’ve been immunized against the virus. This card is also available digitally through the CDC’s internal database. You can find more information on your immunization record here

There are still concerns surrounding the usage of so called vaccine passports however. Due to the fact that vaccines are ubiquitously available in every country, some are criticizing the implementation of such a requirement. While the United States is offering free vaccinations to all of its citizens, other nations with more limited supplies are offering vaccinations only to its more vulnerable populations. Since more vulnerable populations are less likely to travel, this can result in a complete stagnation of mobility by mass transit. The knock on effect of such could harm airlines and cruise providers.

The WHO has even mentioned that requiring proof of vaccination might cause less vulnerable individuals to seek vaccine priority over those more susceptible to the virus. This could have an adverse effect on the vulnerable population. This hasn’t stopped several countries from creating their own form of vaccination passport. Many European countries, as well as China, already have a form of recording keeping to ensure that those who are vaccinated may travel freely.

As time draws on, more and more airlines require proof of a vaccination via vaccine passports. Some airlines are even implementing their own systems to keep track of which fliers have already submitted their proof of inoculation. This can help speed up the process for frequent fliers and also ensure that the airlines don’t have to retread old ground. 

However, some individuals have begun to obtain fraudulent vaccination cards. These faux CDC vaccine cards are being sold on the street and online, and those who are avoiding a vaccine are attempting to use them to circumvent the vaccination requirements for some flights or cruises. This amounts to fraud, doing this can not only land you fines, or maybe even jail time, but it will certainly get you banned from whatever airline or cruise line you are attempting to use. If you cannot obtain a vaccine due to your medical history, you’ll need to get a notice from your healthcare provider. In any other cases, do not attempt to lie to the government or private companies about your vaccination status. Private companies have the legal right to require masks and proof of vaccination, and therefore have the right to refuse service to anyone who does not follow their internal guidelines.

In Need of an Actual Passport?

With passport wait times currently exceeding 18 weeks on the slow end, and barely hitting 12 weeks on the fast side of things, you might have more to worry about than just getting vaccinated. For first time applicants, the passport application process can be stressful. Navigating the complexities of the application process combined with the long wait times and need to get an appointment can be taxing. That’s where we come in.

The Passport Office is an authorized provider of expedited passports. Our offices can provide a 3-5 day turnaround on a new application. What’s better is that no appointment is required. Walk-in to one of our offices and we can get your entire application sorted. That means we’ll take care of any paperwork, photos, and shipping. All you need to do is show up. So don’t get lost in the malaise of shipping documents and waiting to hear back, apply through The Passport Office today. Start your order online, and 

4 Tips for Your Pandemic Passport Application

Passport
Apply for a passport with knowledge on hand

It’s never too early to apply for a passport. With pandemic restrictions being lifted, many Americans who would have applied for a passport last year are now finding it difficult to obtain a passport. The US Department of State has found themselves overloaded with applications, unable to process the overabundance of eager applicants with their limited staff. The last thing you want is for your passport to get delayed and to cause you to miss a trip! So what can you do to make sure your application returns without a hitch?

There’s a lot you can do to ensure your passport application is processed as rapidly and securely as possible. Oftentimes, not being diligent enough can lead to your application being suspended, and essentially double the amount of time you have to wait to get your passport! In this quick read, you’ll find out about some of the most pressing passport 

1.Make Sure You Have the Right Application

DS-11 Application
A DS-11 Passport Application

One of the most common mistakes when applying for a passport is using the wrong applications. Many applicants, new or old, aren’t sure what the process for a passport renewal is compared to a new passport. Because of this, those who should use the new passport application use the DS-82 (Passport renewal application) and those applying for a passport renewal often apply using a DS-11 (New passport application).

Essentially, anyone who has a 10 year passport that has been expired for less than 5 years may apply for a passport renewal and use a DS-82 form. That means that everyone else will be using a DS-11 form. This includes children applying for passports who already have passports, child passports cannot be renewed! The process for children, as well as those who have lost their passport and cannot present it, is done as if they don’t currently have a passport.

2. Get Good Passport Photos

A lot of those applying for a first time passport may not know what a passport photo looks like, or where to get one. Luckily, there are many places to get a passport photo these days. CVS, Walgreens, as well as many post offices or courthouses you can apply for a passport in, all offer passport photos. In most cases, the person taking your photo will be aware of the requirements to ensure your passport photo is accepted. However, you should also be aware of some of the more niche requirements.

For one, no uniforms at all are allowed in your passport photo. This includes camouflage patterns of any kind– even on toddlers and children! Religious headdress may only be worn if your application is submitted with a letter explaining its purpose, this is because covering your head at all is prohibited. Finally, shoulders should be covered by your shirt, so no tube tops or spaghetti straps. Remembering these tips could save you a trip back home to swap outfits, so keep them in mind! Also check out this short clip to recap some of these tips:

Passport Photo Tips

3. Know What Might Disqualify You

Most people should be able to apply for a passport without worrying about being disqualified before they apply. However in some cases, there might be circumstances that prevent applicants from receiving a passport! For example, those who have outstanding child support payments  may not qualify for a passport. This however is determined by their state of residence. Some states have a set amount of unpaid child support that must be met before an applicant is disqualified. Other states disqualify applicants that have any child support payments pending at all. If an application is submitted while the child support goes unpaid, the applicant’s application will be held until the issue is resolved.

Naturally, getting your application held like this can be devastating if you already have travel plans. Another potential disqualification might be a felony conviction. Being deemed as dangerous might prevent you from obtaining a passport to leave the country. This again depends on the specific felony. Drug trafficking, for example, will lead to immediate disqualification. Also, much like being late on child support, not paying your taxes can also get you denied a passport. The IRS has the authority to contact the US Department of State to halt your ability to obtain a passport if you have large sums of taxes unpaid. 

4 . Be Aware of Wait Times

During less tumultuous times, the process of applying for a process and receiving it back would take no more than a month. This is of course assuming that all procedures were followed. In today’s world however, things are taking a bit longer. If you are applying out of a post office and getting standard service expect to wait up to 18 weeks for your application to be processed and completed. This can go down to 12 weeks assuming you are getting expediting service, but given things can take longer if there’s a sudden rush of applicants. 

That being said, you should currently be planning a trip around getting your passport back on time if you are applying out of a post office. The passport will get back to you, just don’t expect to get it back on time. If you’ve been surprised by a trip, or suddenly need to travel due to extenuating circumstances, there are still options for you yet.

Getting a Rush Passport

For those leaving within two weeks, there are options to receive an expedited passport before your date of travel. If you can somehow get an appointment, the US Department of State offers rush service at its open locations. While speedy, there’s no guarantee you’ll get an appointment, and there are very few locations around the nation. For example, those who live in Orlando/Jacksonville will have to decide whether to drive to Atlanta or Miami to get an appointment. Not only that, but their phone lines are clogged, and they recently removed the ability to book an appointment online. You can contact them at 877-487-2778, try calling them in the morning east coast time for the best results.

Not looking to struggle  with getting an online appointment? The Passport Office is one of many private passport expediting agencies that can process your application without a long wait or fuss. We even have an office in Orlando, so you can get your new Orlando passport processed quickly without the long drive. We can provide 3-5 day turnaround time on your passport application when you apply today! So if you’ve got travel plans within 14 days, there’s no better place to apply than The Passport Office.

Great Vacation Spots for Pandemic Travel

Nothing hits better than a vacation in the peak of summer. But for those who have been paying attention to the news, the pandemic has been heavily restricting travel. So where can you actually travel during these trying times? Today, we’ll be starting our weekly series detailing some choice vacation locals for you to blow off steam. 

As things change fast due to the spread of the Covid-19 virus, the information provided below is subject to change at a moment’s notice. Be sure to check the country’s embassy before booking tickets or planning a trip. Links to resources are provided under each country’s entry.

The Bahamas

A classic summer destination, you probably know about the Bahamas because of its beautiful beaches and weather. Or perhaps you are a fan of swimming with pigs down in Exuma, one of the Bahamas many islands. No matter what brings you to the Bahamas, there will always be something exciting to do. The destination is also constantly circulating cruise ships, which are now touring again. This would be a great locale to visit on your first post-lockdown cruise!

Visitors 11 and older must have a negative Covid-19 PCR test result no more than five days old before arrival. Once you have the negative result, you can apply for a Bahamas travel health visa (link below). Fully vaccinated travelers must upload proof of vaccination and are exempt from testing starting May 1. All travelers must opt-in to Covid-19 health insurance; the cost is included in the health visa fee. 

More info: US Embassy | Bahamas’ travel website.

Belize

Belize is a beautiful, yet relatively unknown, country in central america. Despites not being as well known as other central american rivals such as Costa Rica or Panama, Belize has similar sights and amenities. 

Make sure to download the Belize Health App and input your travel information no more than 72 hours before arriving in Belize. You must also bring your official CDC vaccination card to prove inculcation no more than two weeks before arrival. Otherwise, have a negative Covid-19 PCR test result taken within 96 hours of arrival or a rapid test within 48 hours of arrival. Or you can be tested upon arrival at a cost of $50. All travelers must have proof they’ve booked a room in a gold standard hotel. 

More info: US Embassy | Belize Tourism Board.

Iceland

This small country in the Atlantic is typically swarming with tourists. Luckily, in large part due to the pandemic lockdowns, Iceland is more spacious than ever! While going north for the summer might sound weird, Iceland is jam packed with sights to see and activities for solo travelers as well as couples and families. Most notably, the hot springs that dot Iceland are a popular destination for travelers. Thanks to the island geothermal activity there are many to visit, so book a reservation now before they all fill up!

Starting April 6, US travelers who have proof of being fully vaccinated or those with proof of contracting Covid-19 but are now recovered may enter Iceland. This exempts US visitors from testing and quarantine requirements. 

More info: US Embassy.

South Korea

With its recent cultural export of k-pop blasting through the earbuds of every teen in America, it’s unlikely that you are unaware of South Korea. This technologically advanced country is a great place to visit if you haven’t dipped your toes in travel across the pacific. Boasting modernized public transportation, and beautiful natural landscapes, South Korea is really something to behold. Not only that, but their barbeque is nothing to scoff at either.

US visitors to South Korea must provide a negative Covid-19 PCR test result taken within 72 hours of departure. US travelers must also quarantine for 14 days upon arrival even with a negative test or full vaccination. You must also submit to health screenings and download a self-diagnosis app with daily reports. 

More info: US Embassy.

Greece

Greece is often thought of as the birthplace of democracy. This mediterranean nation has been culturally emulated even here in the USA. Greece has recently reopened its borders, meaning you can enjoy visiting its many historical and ancient sites. You can also partake in the high quality mediterranean cuisine! Greece is also known for its islands which have gorgeous beaches, definitely worth visiting this summer!

Greece is now open to US travelers who are either fully vaccinated or those with a negative result from a Covid-19 PCR test that’s no more than 72 hours old upon arrival. You must fill out an online passenger locator form. Would-be tourists should be aware Greece is still under a lockdown and curfew. 

More info: US Embassy.

Dominican Republic

An iconic vacation spot that isn’t too far off the shores of Florida. The spanish half of the island of Hispaniola boasts scenic beaches and great cuisine, as well as a great party scene. For those who want to go off the beaten path and perhaps try somewhere other than the US’s own Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic makes a great first choice for your adventures outside of the USA.

UPDATE: All arriving and departing passengers must fill out an electronic entry and exit form; it can only be in digital form. Covid-19 tests aren’t required, but Dominican Republic authorities will give breath tests to a small percentage of random passengers plus anyone showing symptoms.

The Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism now offers free viral antigen testing to all international visitors staying in hotels. The US Embassy says PCR test results have been reliably available within 72 hours but could be affected by increased demand. 

More info: US Embassy | GoDominicanRepublic.com

Expedited Passport Services

You’ll need a passport to visit any of these beautiful countries, but getting one right now can be a challenge. The current wait time for a passport processed through normal means is 12-18 weeks. That might mean postponing your late summer vacation until winter! So much for blowing off steam.

Luckily, there are other options for obtaining a passport in a shorter period of time. If you’ve got proof of travel within 14 days, you can apply through the US Department of State, if you can get an appointment you can expect your passport back the same day! Unfortunately, like with many things during the pandemic, the wait times are prohibitively long, and their hours might cut into your work week.

We provide expedited passport renewal services as well! When you work with us, you get The Passport Office guarantee. We can process a passport application in as little as one week, and we have availability throughout the week so you’ll be sure to get an appointment. If you can’t come in person, you can also apply online and send in your application. So what are you waiting for? Book your vacation today, and get started with your passport application process!

Potential Vacation Spots for Pandemic Travel

Nothing hits better than a vacation in the peak of summer. But for those who have been paying attention to the news, the pandemic has been heavily restricting travel. So where can you actually travel during these trying times? Today, we’ll be starting our weekly series detailing some choice vacation locals for you to blow off steam. 

As things change fast due to the spread of the Covid-19 virus, the information provided below is subject to change at a moment’s notice. Be sure to check the country’s embassy before booking tickets or planning a trip. Links to resources are provided under each country’s entry.

Turks and Caicos

Clear blue water and white sand beaches of Turks & Caicos
The beautiful white sand beaches of Turks & Caicos

A beautiful island located in the carribean, Turks and Caicos has relatively low levels of Covid-19 cases due to its isolation from the rest of the world. If you’re looking for a tropical paradise to kick your feet up and relax in, definitely consider the beaches of this twin island nation.

Those visiting must fill out a travel authorization form and provide a negative Covid-19 PCR test result taken within five days of arrival. Children 9 and younger are exempt. Travelers must complete an online health questionnaire and carry travel medical insurance to cover any Covid-19-related costs. 

More info: US Embassy | Visit Turks and Caicos

Thailand

Home of everyone’s favorite peanut based noodle dish, Thailand is one of the few remaining true Monarchies in the world, and it’s doors have opened once again for visitors. Known for its beaches, as well as its vibrant nightlife and cuisine, Thailand was a hot tourist destination before shutting down due to pandemic concerns.

US passport holders can again visit this popular Asian destination. You must have a negative result from a Covid-19 PCR test no more than 72 hours old upon arrival. There’s a mandatory quarantine of 10 days, plus additional testing requirements during your stay. The mandatory quarantine period has been shortened to seven days for travelers who have been fully vaccinated. 

More info: US Embassy | Royal Thai Embassy.

Panama

The southern neighbor to peaceful Costa Rica, and location of one of the busiest and most well known canals in the world, Panama is a gorgeous equatorial country that boasts a plethora of tourist attractions. Like Costa Rica to the north, Panama is known for its beaches and lush rainforests. Those who enjoy basking in the sun can enjoy its sunny beaches, and the more adventurous can venture out on rainforest expeditions. Being centrally located, it’s also a nexus for a variety of latin cuisine!

A Covid-19 PCR or antigen test with a negative result, taken 48 hours or less before arrival time, is required to visit Panama. If the test results are older than 48 hours, you must take a rapid Covid-19 test at the airport. You must also fill out an online health affidavit. Cruise ship passengers can’t disembark here. 

More info: US Embassy | Visit Panama.

Nepal

The mountainous region between the Indian and Chinese border is home to the Himalayan mountain range. This mountainous region is also home to Nepal, which sports the most used base camp to begin a climb on Mount Everest. While you might not want to pull a muscle on your vacation, you can still take in the sights that Nepal has to offer. Known for its natural beauty, as well as its rich cultural history, Nepal has a lot to offer to first time visitors, and it’s quite inexpensive once you land as well!

US travelers can visit the landlocked Himalayan nation. A negative result from a Covid-19 PCR test taken no more than 72 hours before departure or proof of full Covid-19 vaccination to enter. You’ll be tested again upon arrival and must quarantine until you get the results. Also, you’ll need proof you’ve booked accommodations and proof of travel insurance that covers rescues and treatment. Hikers and mountain climbers have special requirements, including insurance. 

More info: US Embassy.

Mexico

Possibly our most well known neighbor (sorry Canada), Mexican culture already pervades American culture, what with its exports of music and food. However, you really can’t compete with the real thing. Our version of Mexican food is heavily Americanized, so going in person is really the only way to get the genuine article. Mexico is a massive country, boasting activities on both coasts, as well as in the mountainous Mexico City. 

The land border between the US and Mexico remains closed through at least May 21, but US travelers can still fly there. No testing requirements are in place to enter, but the State Department lists numerous states to avoid because of crime. You can expect temperature checks and other screenings upon arrival. 

More info: US Embassy.

Malta

Popeye Village in Malta
The set of the Robin William’s film Popeye! It still exists as a tourist attraction in Malta, pay it a visit during your trip

A beautiful island paradise located in the warm waters of the mediterranean sea, Malta is a popular tourist destination that has opened its doors to US citizens. Known for its historic buildings, cuisine, crystal clear water, and beaches. You’re sure to find something to keep yourself preoccupied while visiting this small island.

US travelers with a long vacation and who wish to sidestep the EU travel ban can visit. Passengers who transit via a “safe corridor country” that allows US visitors may enter Malta after they’ve been in that country for 14 days. For example, US travelers can stay 14 days in Turkey or Ireland and then be eligible to enter Malta. All passengers must fill out Public Health Travel Declaration and the Passenger Locator forms before departure. 

More info: US Embassy.

Expedited Passport Services

You’ll need a passport to visit any of these beautiful countries, but getting one right now can be a challenge. The current wait time for a passport processed through normal means is 12-18 weeks. That might mean postponing your late summer vacation until winter! So much for blowing off steam.

Luckily, there are other options for obtaining a passport in a shorter period of time. If you’ve got proof of travel within 14 days, you can apply through the US Department of State, if you can get an appointment you can expect your passport back the same day! Unfortunately, like with many things during the pandemic, the wait times are prohibitively long, and their hours might cut into your work week.

We provide expedited passport renewal services as well! When you work with us, you get The Passport Office guarantee. We can process a passport application in as little as one week, and we have availability throughout the week so you’ll be sure to get an appointment. If you can’t come in person, you can also apply online and send in your application. So what are you waiting for? Book your vacation today, and get started with your passport application process!

Getting a Passport Renewed During the Pandemic

The pandemic has been raging on for over a year now, and since lockdowns have been instituted, there have been a lot of questions regarding the processing of passports. In March of 2020, passport processing was slowed down to a snail’s pace. In fact, applications weren’t being processed at all as postal workers, US Department of State employees, and government offices shut down in accordance with the quarantine.

However, now that we’re more than a year deep into the pandemic and that vaccination has become available to all US citizens, you might be wondering how to go about applying for and obtaining a passport. Currently, the process is still much slower than it ever was in pre-pandemic times, but obtaining a passport is still possible. We’ll be going over what it takes to obtain a passport, what your options are, and how long current passport turnover times are.

Renewal VS New Passport

Before we go further, let’s outline the distinction between a passport renewal and a new passport. Passport renewals can be performed on any 10 year passport that has been expired for less than 5 years. Please keep in mind that this means child passports, as well as lost passports, cannot be renewed. A common mistake that is often made by parents is assuming that child passports can be processed as renewals, this can lead to their application taking longer as the form required for new passports and passport renewals is different. 

In order to process a renewal, you must fill out a DS-82 form, provide a check for government fees, and provide a new photo. New passport applicants must provide a DS-11 application, as well as a photocopy of their ID, and a physical copy of their birth certificate or passport, in addition to a check for government fees. New passport applicants must appear in person at an acceptance facility, these locations verify the identity of first time applicants, or for previous applicants who do not qualify for a passport renewal. Those applying for a passport renewal can submit their application on their own, the DS-82 application continues a shipping address that applicants can mail their completed application to.

Applying for Out of Country Residents

If you are a resident of the United States but are currently living abroad, you may not have to worry too much about renewing your passport. The US Department of State has stated that they will be honoring all expired passports until at least the end of 2021. This is to reduce the amount of incoming applications, as well as to give Americans the opportunity to come back home without have to wait long periods of time due to passport processing times. 

That being said, if you don’t have a passport at all and are living abroad, you’ll definitely need to get a new one if you intend to re-enter the country. Your best bet would be to visit the nearest US embassy or consulate. These facilities often contain small passport issuing operations that should be able to issue you a temporary passport. This passport is valid for 2 years, and it’s recommend that you apply for a new passport as soon as you return home in order to get the passport’s life extended from 2 to 10 years.

Current Passport Turnover Times

With summer comes the urge to travel, and since passport services opened up for processing earlier this year, the Department of State offices that process applications have been overwhelmed. Eager travelers have been applying for passport renewals and new passports, which has caused a massive back up in the US Department of State’s system. As the agency is currently understaffed, this onslaught of applications has led to long processing times. 

Turnover times jumped from 6-10 weeks near the beginning of processing to 12-18 weeks now. This means that if you plan to travel soon, going the traditional route will leave little leeway in terms of receiving your passport back in a speedy fashion. This means that if you intend to apply through a post office (for new passports) or on your own (for passport renewals) you shouldn’t plan a trip within the next 4 months. Not only that, but processing times can increase depending on how many more applicants apply.

Applying for an Emergency Passport Renewal

Perhaps you already have plans booked and 12-18 weeks just won’t cut it. Thankfully, there are avenues to obtain a passport in a faster time frame. However, because of limited availability, the requirements on this process are much more strict. Primarily, you’ll need to be able to show proof of travel within 14 days to even get an appointment. That means if a surprise opportunity to book a vacation has sprung up, you’ll need to book plane tickets (hotel bookings don’t count as proof of travel). This restriction can be a turn off for those who haven’t already booked travel, since even if you do book a ticket, there’s no guarantee that you can even get an appointment.

But where would you even go to get a passport within 14 days? The US Department of State has several offices around the country that can provide this service. Again, due to high demand, obtaining an appointment is very difficult at the moment. You may even end up having to go in the day before your scheduled day of travel to get your passport. On the bright side, if you do get an appointment, you’ll most likely get your passport back the same day that you arrive. This is great for those in a pinch, but not the easiest thing to manage when trying to schedule around work and the Department of State office’s availability.

Other Emergency Renewal Options

If the idea of trying to wrangle an appointment at the Department of State doesn’t sound appealing, there are more options yet. The US Department of State recently reopened its passport courier partnership. This means that private courier companies, much like our location in Miami, are now processing expedited passport renewals. Unlike the Department of State, you won’t get your passport back the same day, but you will be able to walk-in for service and get your passport back in about 3-4 days. The requirements are exactly the same as if you were going directly to the State Department, however you will need to pay an additional expediting fee depending on how quickly you want your passport processed.

So, if you need a passport renewal within 14 days, visit our office in Miami. Our service can rush your passport application so you can be sure to have your passport back in your hands by the time of your departure. You can either schedule an appointment, or walk-in for service!