US Passport Rules and Regulations for Seattle Travelers

US Passport Rules and Regulations for Seattle Travelers

The passport process in and of itself can be complex on account of all the documentation and regulations you have to accomodate for (you can find our passport application guidelines here). Even after you’ve placed an application and received your passport, however, there are some rules and regulations to keep in mind as you make travel plans. The last thing you want is a delay just as you attempt to board your plane, so we have a list of travel tips and regulations to help keep your travel plans running smoothly.

Passport Expiration

Standard passports last for up to ten years, while minors under sixteen years of age have passports that last for up to five years. That may sound like plenty of time to allow for all your travel plans, but if your passport is less than a year from expiring, you may want to consider renewing it before travelling internationally. This is because many countries around the world have limitations on how close your passport can be to expiration, with most not allowing visitors who have less than six months left until their passport expires. Below is a list of popular destinations that don’t allow travellers with less than six months before expiration on their passport (please note that this is not a comprehensive list):

  • Egypt
  • Ecuador
  • Congo
  • Spain
  • Switzerland
  • France
  • Germany
  • China (Hong Kong allows for a one-month validity)
  • Tonga

As a general rule, European countries don’t allow visitors who have less than six months left on their passport. Other locations like Mexico and Canada have a softer policy that cuts travellers off at three months of validity left.

Other countries make use of one-month validity passport policies, while still others may allow a visit as long as the traveller’s passport is still valid upon entry. To avoid travel delays on account of your passport expiring soon, be sure to look up the international location to see if your passport will still be accepted. Passport expiration policies are enforced by their respective countries rather than the US, so the best way to avoid complications is to renew your passport before booking international travel.

If you obtain a visa for a longer visit abroad, you’ll still want to be sure your passport will be valid for the duration of your stay. In the case that it isn’t, you will still be able to apply for a passport from a US consulate or embassy while abroad. For passport applications abroad, however, you won’t be able to access expedited services, so keep this in mind when planning for a long trip.

Valid ID for Domestic Travel

Although domestic flights typically don’t require passports, changes made in 2018 altered the standard acceptable security requirements of driver’s licences and state-issued ID. At the time, this policy affected the residents of nine states and required that they use alternate, federally acceptable ID to board airplanes.

The REAL ID Act is set to make changes in the future of domestic flights, too. By October of 2020, passengers will be required to show REAL ID compliant identification. Since many states have only recently adopted these secure standards (and since civilians are largely unaware that more secure options exist for new driver’s licenses and state-issued ID), many delays are predicted to occur. You can avoid the issue completely by taking a passport as a form of REAL ID compliant identification on domestic flights.

Passport Renewal

If you need to get your passport renewed quickly to avoid travel delays, you can expedite the process for a fee (the price of the service depends on how quickly you want the processing to be done). Make the process of renewal as smooth as possible by following these simple steps:

  • Use the official online form filler to complete and print Form DS-82
  • Take new passport photos or have them done at our office
  • Ensure you have proof of international travel, such as plane ticket information
  • Bring your old passport to the agency with your documents and photo

This process is the fastest and simplest you can use to get an expedited passport renewal. Premium, same-day service is also available if you visit the office before the cut-off time of 10am. If you have a little more time before you need a renewal, you can also renew your expedited passport by mail (this typically takes between two to three weeks).

Lost and Damaged Passports

Passports can inevitably be stolen, damaged or lost regardless of whether you’re home or abroad. You’ll need to make sure you have the proper documentation on hand when applying for a replacement passport, as different circumstances may require different forms.

If your passport is damaged…

This can happen on account of natural disasters, accidents, and a variety of other unfortunate circumstances. If your passport has taken on water damage, has tears, has a damaged RFID chip, or is otherwise unreadable, you’ll need to get a new passport to travel. To do this, find your nearest acceptance facility or passport agency (we also accept applications for stolen, lost, and damaged passports) and bring the following materials:

  • Your damaged passport and a signed statement explaining the damage
  • Form DS-11, preferably filled out online with the official government form filler
  • Proof of citizenship, including a photocopy of the documentation
  • Proof of identity, including a photocopy of the identification used
  • A passport photo
  • Payment for your new passport

If your passport was lost…

Regardless of whether your passport was lost or stolen, you’ll need to fill out additional documentation to report the event when you apply for a new passport. Much like a damaged passport, you should locate the nearest acceptance facility or passport agency and bring the following materials:

  • Form DS-64, which you can find on the official government form filler
  • Form DS-11, also accessible through the government form filler
  • Proof of citizenship, including a photocopy of the documentation
  • Proof of identity, including a photocopy of the identification used
  • A passport photo
  • Payment for your new passport

Get your expedited passport today

If you have further questions about passport regulations, you can reach our office at (206) 408-2001 or view our online rates and renewal applications. Our fast, professional services make passport renewals and applications easy so you can get where you need to go.

How Passports and Visas Interact – Everything Tampa Travelers Need to Know

Travel documentation can be confusing even for seasoned travellers. Each country you visit has different requirements for foreign visitors, such as entry and exit fees, passport validity when a passport expires within a few months, and whether or not you need a visa to accompany your passport. Both passports and visas have a lot in common when it comes to being able to enter another country, but there are a few key differences and functions you should be aware of before you visit your nearest passport agency.

All About Passports

US passports are a powerful form of identification that can get you access to 184 different countries without needing to apply for a visa. You’ll always need a passport for re-entry into the US, so it’s the most vital documentation to carry when travelling. 

In addition to being necessary for travel overseas, passports are also useful domestically as a form of reliable ID—especially as security standards change, which has already made some driver’s licenses and state-issued ID’s obsolete as identification for domestic flights. Applying for passports is a standard process regardless of which state you live in, so you can always make your passport application straightforward by preparing this documentation ahead of time:

Renewing a passport is an even easier process that requires only your old passport, a new passport photo, and form DS-82 in addition to processing fees. Both new passport applications and passport renewals can be expedited if you need to travel quickly, which will usually get your new passport completed within 2-3 weeks. In the case that you need a passport within days, however, a passport issuing agency like ours can service you even faster.

All About Visas

Visas work within passports as permission to perform a specific task within another country, whether that’s business, pleasure, or medically related. While you can travel many places with a passport alone, longer visits often require the approval of a visa. The most important step in applying for a visa is doing your research to find the appropriate embassy to apply to and following the instructions given. The government already has a great resource where you can search for the country you are travelling to in order to find visa requirements and other important information (such as required immunizations and current safety hazards).

Generally speaking, the process of applying for a visa remotely in another country can take anywhere from two weeks to two months. Because every country has different processes (sometimes you’ll be expected to come with a visa, while in other countries you can visit in person to apply for a visa when you arrive), we can’t stress enough that you need to plan accordingly and make time to have a visa processed.

If a travel emergency occurs and you need to get a visa quickly, you can visit visa agencies that will greatly expedite the process for a fee. In some cases, you can even get a visa processed and ready to go within 24 hours.

Countries that Require Visas as of 2019

According to the Henly & Partners Passport Index, there are 42 destinations that require a visa:

  • Afghanistan
  • Algeria
  • Angola
  • Arabia
  • Azerbaijan
  • Benin 
  • Bhutan 
  • Burundi 
  • Cameroon 
  • Chad 
  • China 
  • Congo 
  • Cote d’lvoire
  • Cuba 
  • Djibouti 
  • Eritrea 
  • Ghana 
  • Guinea 
  • India 
  • Iran 
  • Iraq 
  • North Korea 
  • Liberia 
  • Libya 
  • Mali 
  • Myanmar 
  • Nauru 
  • Niger 
  • Nigeria 
  • Oman 
  • Pakistan 
  • Russia 
  • Saudia 
  • South Sudan 
  • Syria 
  • Turkey 
  • Turkmenistan 
  • Uzbekistan 
  • Venezuela 
  • Vietnam 
  • Yemen

Australia is a slight exception in that it requires either a visa or an ETA, an Electronic Travel Authority that can be completed online. Although Brazil has historically required US travellers to obtain a visa, this has no longer been the case since June 17, 2019.

Visa and Passport Expiration

Foreign countries have different rules surrounding expiration for both passports and visas. In the case of passports, you’ll have to pay special attention when the document is within one year of expiration. Some countries will not allow you in if your passport is less than 6 months away from expiration, some countries have the same rule that applies to less than 3 months, and still others will accept your passport as long as it is valid upon entry.

If your passport expires but contains a visa that is still valid, you don’t need to apply for a new visa when you get a new passport. As long as you carry both your valid passport and your old passport with the valid visa, you’ll be able to travel as normal.

In the case that your visa is about to expire, you may still be able to travel and remain even after your visa expires. This is because a visa’s expiration date is different from the approved amount of time a traveller may remain in a country for. For this reason, when you arrive at the entry gate, the duration of your stay may be approved even if it goes beyond your visa’s expiration date.

Visa Interviews

When you apply for a visa, you will likely have to set an appointment for an interview in order to get your visa approved. The questions typically asked in these interviews simply clarify your intent to travel, so details will be requested accordingly. Depending on the type of visa you apply for, you should be prepared to answer questions about:

  • Your university and the duration of your courses if you are a student
  • Your current job and related company details if you are travelling for business
  • Your spouse, regardless of whether or not you are travelling with them
  • Your children, especially if they are employed in the country you are visiting
  • Your place of temporary residence for the duration of your stay

Before You Travel

Getting all of your paperwork together for a visa and a passport can be both stressful and time-consuming. At The Passport Agency, we can ensure that your application details for a passport are accurate and get your paperwork approved in the timeframe you’ll need it in, with same-day services available for patrons who visit the office before 10am. Check out the application process now or request a passport agency appointment to get started on your way to international travel.

What To Bring To Your Atlanta Passport Agency Appointment

To expedite your passport as quickly and painlessly as possible, be prepared to have these five key items for documentation: proof of U.S. citizenship, proof of identity, passport photos, proof of intent to travel  and the appropriate passport form completed via an official government form filler online. There are various exceptions and rules for these items, so we’ll walk you through the details of each one to help you prepare accordingly.

We service both walk-ins and appointments for passports at our Atlanta location. To schedule an appointment or to ask any questions you have prior to visiting, call the office at (404) 889-8670. We’re located at 175 Peachtree Street NE Ste 2037 Atlanta, GA 30308.

[Suggested alt text: Bring proper documentation to your Atlanta passport agency appointment.]

Gather These Documents Before Your Appointment at the Atlanta Passport Agency

You will need to bring the following documentation with you to your Atlanta Passport Agency appointment:

Completed Passport Application 

  1. For new or child passports, you must obtain Form DS-11 “Application for a U.S. Passport” from the State Department’s website. You may complete it online; however, you will still need to print it out. The same goes for renewals, which use Form DS-82. Both forms can be found on the official government form filler.
  2. DO NOT SIGN IT UNTIL YOU ARE IN FRONT OF THE PASSPORT ACCEPTANCE AGENT. The agent must witness each traveler signing the form. 
  3. It is recommended that you use the government form filler to print your application. Applications filled out by hand will need to be typed in by our staff at the office.
  4. You will have to supply your Social Security number, address, information about your parents, information about your current or previous marriages, your birthdate, birthplace and your physical description. 
  5. For adult travelers who were never issued a Social Security number, you must draft, sign and date an affidavit that states, “I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States of America that the following is true and correct:  I have never been issued a Social Security Number (SSN) by the Social Security Administration (SSA).”

Proof of Citizenship

Be prepared to present proof of your US citizenship when you apply for a passport. Your old passport will suffice, as will a government-issued birth certificate that has been certified by the state in which you were born. If you were born outside of the United States, submit your naturalization or citizenship certificate or the consular report of birth abroad. If you use your naturalization certificate to apply, you are waived from the requirement to prove your identity. 

If unable to produce these documents, you will need to submit some early school records with your hospital-issued birth affidavit or birth certificate. Sometimes, circumstances arise (especially with older travelers) where no birth records are available. In lieu of those government records, you must obtain a letter from the government attesting to the same.

Proof of Identity 

To establish your identity, you can use an existing passport (if you have one). Other primary forms of identification include your naturalization or citizenship certificate, valid military ID, state ID or driver’s license or another type of government-issued identification card. 

 If you do not have front and back photocopies of the identification you intend to submit (this is printed on a letter-size sheet of white paper), you can visit in-person to have this service completed for you. Those lacking acceptable primary identification documents may alternatively submit multiple types of secondary identification like valid employee identification cards, credit cards, and Social Security cards. You can also bring along a witness willing to swear under oath you are whom you claim to be.

(H3) Passport Photo

 If you don’t have passport photos when you apply in-person, we can take the photos for you at the office. Acceptable passport photos need to be printed in color with 2-by-2-inch dimensions. They also need to be taken with you standing against an off-white or white background. Finally, the photo must have been taken within the six-month period preceding your passport application. You shouldn’t smile for the camera for this photo; assume a neutral facial expression and look straight ahead at the camera. Unless you have a signed affidavit that it is for religious reasons, you cannot cover your head in your passport photo. The same is true for glasses unless you have a signed statement from your physician that your glasses are medically necessary.  Regular, everyday clothing is recommended: uniforms, particularly those for military and government work, are not allowed.

Travel Itinerary

In order to have your expedited passport processed, you will need to provide proof of travel intent. Acceptable documents include one copy of your international cruise or airline reservations or a copy of reservations for your hotel or another lodging. If you don’t have an itinerary, you can substitute a business letter written on your company’s letterhead instead. PLEASE NOTE THAT THE DATES OF YOUR DS-11 AND TRAVEL ITINERARY MUST MATCH AND THE ITINERARY MUST STATE YOUR NAME.

Documentation You Will Need for Children’s Passport Application

If you will be traveling with a child who is 15 or younger, you must have proof of your parental identity, i.e., certified birth certificates, adoption decrees or other court orders. Should both of the child’s parents not be planning to travel with them overseas, the custodial parent must submit either documentation that they’ve been awarded sole custody or guardianship or obtain from their child’s other parent a statement of consent (Form DS-3053) granting that parent permission to apply for a passport for the child.

How to Renew Your Passport at the Atlanta Passport Office

You can renew your current or expired U.S passport online unless your passport was:

  • Issued more than 15 years ago
  • Issued before your 16th birthday
  • Lost, damaged, or stolen
  • Issued in your previous name and you don’t have a legal document to prove your name change
  • A temporary emergency passport issued abroad over a year ago.

If any of the above are true, you cannot renew your passport online and you must apply for a new passport in person at the Atlanta Passport Office using form DS-11. 

Passport renewal in Atlanta is easy. Simply follow the steps outlined below:

  1. Use the official government form filler to complete and print Form DS-82.
  2. Bring a passport photo. Follow the requirements listed above.
  3. Bring your most recent passport.
  4. If your name was changed, bring a certified copy of your marriage certificate or a court order of your name change. 

What To Do When Your Airline Shuts Down

It’s not every day that a massive inter-country airline shutdown, but that’s exactly what happened to Thomas Cook Air. The UK based airline suddenly ceased all operations midday, forcing planes to land and passengers to disembark aircrafts ready for take off. With the airline now kaput, there was no one to pay for the plane’s lease or the fuel used for transportation. Lucky for the passengers, the UK government offers services to those who missed flights as Thomas Cook is a UK based company. The government requires that should an airline go out of business, the burden shall be picked up and paid for by the government of the UK. 

But if your airline isn’t based in the UK, you may have some trouble getting your reimbursement. So, what do you do if your airline goes kaput? Today we’ll be looking at the steps you can take to prepare for such an event, and what you can do should such a thing happen to you.

The Signs

First off, we should note that this is much more likely to have in Europe. Most of the airlines that end up going defunct are local airlines which focus on short economy flights to nearby airports. In the USA, we don’t have as many competing airlines as the entirety of the EU does. In the cases where two companies are competing in a similar niche here in the states, it’s much more likely that the companies merge and that flights continue you. But what are the signs of an airline on the verge of collapse?

Make sure that you’re keeping an eye on the news. A controversy rocking Delta doesn’t have the same effect that it does on a much smaller airline. The news is also quick to point out when an airline announces low earnings. Typically airlines rake in the majority of their earnings during the summer travel season, so if an airline announces consecutive low summer earnings you know they might be in trouble. Typically an airline will announce closure ahead of time and cancel flights before you arrive at the airport, but this isn’t always the case.

What to do if it Happens to You?

A canceled flight might mean wasted vacation days. This doesn’t always have to be the case though. In many cases, the airline will attempt to offer you credit with a competitor so that you don’t take any monetary legal action to acquire reimbursement. In some cases, competitors will offer discounted fares simply to lure in disgruntled fliers. These competing airlines might be taking advantage of the situation to acquire new customers, but in this situation it’s hard to complain.

Make sure to notify your hotels that you may be arriving late, and see if you can re-book your dates if your new flight is on a different date. You don’t have to miss out on your vacation if you stay calm and try to move things around a bit. Most will be sympathetic to your situation, especially considering you are not in control of the circumstances. Try to stay calm, stress will only make the situation worse as we all tend to make rash decisions while stressed. Decisions like blaming the airline closure on the now unemployed attendant trying to explain that their employer just went out of business. 

What if you have a Visa?

Unfortunately if your passport has a visa in it, it won’t suddenly extend because your flight got canceled. This can be especially troublesome if you’re attempting to enter a country with a particularly strict visa application process that only issues short term stay visas. In this case, having your flight pushed back a few days could mean permanently shaving a few days off your trip even if you’re able to rebook. If this is the case with you, you may not have any other choice but to reapply for the visa or request an extension from the consulate that issued the visa. While this rarely happens, it can if the reason is good enough. If this is not an option and you have sometime before your new flight, you can always reapply for the visa using an expedited service which can get you a visa in only a few days.

In some cases, you simply won’t be able to do anything. A small airline closing with no competitors offering cheap flights, and a consulate that refuses to extend your visa could always be your situation. If this happens to you, the most you can do is hope that the airline you are buying your replacement ticket from has good on flight snacks. In all seriousness, this can happen, and should it happen while you’re in a foreign country, it may be best to contact the local consulate servicing your nationality to see if some form of compensation can be agreed upon.

Need a Passport or Visa?

If you don’t want to wait a month for your passport, you can always apply with us, here at The Passport Office. We offer professional private courier services that allow us to get you your passport in as quickly as one day depending on your situation. You can apply online, or visit one of our many offices across the nation to get your application started today.

Likewise, we offer many visa services over at Visa Service Department, and we offer specialty services with China Visa Department. As veterans in the travel documentation industry, we offer you secure passport-to-visa services with some of the lowest rates in the business. All of our offices offer both passport and visa services, so give us a call, visit us online, or stop by in person to inquire about what you’ll need to travel or to get the process started today.

Passport Renewal Process for Beginners

The passport renewal process - a photo of a passport and an airline ticket

Applying for a passport renewal can be tedious if you aren’t already familiar with the application process. The stress of applying can only be compounded if you plan on leaving on a deadline. So, what do you need for a successful passport renewal application? What does it take to get through the process with no faults? Today we’ll be looking at exactly what you’ll need to be prepared for your passport renewal application.

Am I Eligible for a Passport Renewal?

First thing’s first, you’ll need to determine if you are even eligible to apply for a passport renewal. Remember, children’s passports cannot be used for a passport renewal. This means that if your passport was issued before the age of 16, you won’t be able to renew it! Children are issued 5 year passports, so if you’re unsure if whether or not your passport was issued before or after your 16th birthday, just check its validity. If you don’t have possession of your passport book because you’ve lost it, you won’t be able to renew it either!

On top of that, if your passport has received any major damage, you won’t be able to renew either. Minor fraying of the booklet is not considered sufficient damage to prevent renewal, however a damaged information page is. Finally, your passport can’t be over 5 years expired. So essentially you can renew any 10 year passport in good condition that has been expired for less than 5 years.

TIP: One other thing to note, your passport does not have to be expired for you to renew it. As long as your passport is within a few months of expiring, or has all of its pages used up, you’ll be able to apply for a passport renewal!

Submission Materials

Man preparing a Passport Renewal Application

So, you’ll now need to gather the required materials now that you’ve determined your eligibility. The first thing you’ll need to do is fill out the application, which you can do here on the US Department of State’s website. Make sure you answer every question honestly and that you double check your application before printing it out! Make sure that you sign the application after it’s been printed.

After you’re done with the application, it’s time to get your passport photo taken. This passport photo must be printed on 2×2 glossy paper and must follow certain criteria to be accepted. Unless you plan on taking the photo and printing it yourself you won’t have to worry about the specific requirements. Vendors who sell passport photos are familiar with the requirements and will be able to tell you if your photos are eligible. You can get your passport taken at most post offices or at Walgreen’s or CVS. If you are processing a passport renewal with us, we also offer passport photos at a discounted rate.

Payment and Extras

You’ll also need a check or money order for the amount of $110 if you are applying for standard service. This number jumps up to $170 if you are applying for expedited service. We recommend money order as checks have specific rules which can lead to them getting denied. Some examples of issues with checks are that your ID license and the address on your application should match your check’s address. Some people move around and don’t update their IDs which could lead to this issue if you do use a personal check. While money orders cost a bit more to attain, they typically don’t get denied.

If you are applying for a name change with your passport renewal you’ll also need to submit documentation proving your name changed. This is typically provided in the way of Marriage Certificate, Divorce Decree, or a court order stating that the applicant has petitioned for a legal name change. 

Where Do I Send My Passport Renewal Application?

Now that you have everything you’ll need, it’s time to send off your application. Depending on what process you’re doing and who you’re doing it with, the place you’ll go may change. If you are processing at standard speed, you can go to a local post office to mail out your application to the USDS. You can also pay an additional $60 to expedite through the US Department of State. Paying to expedite can get you your passport back in as soon as same day. However this can only be done if you go directly to one of the USDS’s physical locations. If you are unable to be present, you can still mail in your application to get expedited, albeit at a longer 3-4 week speed.

If you don’t live near one of the US Department of State’s locations, but still need to rush service, there are many private courier companies that can represent you. These private couriers will guide you through the passport renewal process and rush your passport. Since these couriers work directly with the USDS, they can process at roughly the same speed. This means same day processing is available, but do keep in mind shipping time when considering a purchase. A same day passport, for example, would arrive to you not the next day, but the day after. One day to ship to the USDS, one day to ship back.

Leaving in a Rush?

Leaving in a rush? Don’t scramble to get paperwork finished, let us handle that for you. The Passport Office has been a leader in the expedited passport service industry since it was established in 1993. Never miss an update when you work with us. We provide professional service securely and with a smile. Visit our website today to get your passport back in as quickly as two business days!

If your passport doesn’t need renewing but you’re traveling to a country that requires a visa to visit, look no further. Visa Service Department services multiple cities around the United States and can help you with almost any visa required for US citizens. Visit them today to get started with your visa application and one step closer to your trip.

Passports and Visa, a Breakdown

A woman stressing over a computer, probably applying for a visa.

If you’ve never traveled before and don’t have a passport, travel to a country that requires a visa can be a long and confusing process. Even if you’ve had a passport, especially an American one, most countries do not require a visa so finally needing to obtain one can rattle one’s brain. First off, what even is a visa and why do you need one for some countries but not others? A visa is essentially a country’s government allowing you into the country. You need a visa to travel to countries which may have an unstable relationship with your country of origin. For example, ongoing tension between nations which once heavily leaned towards Communism (think China, Russia, Vietnam) all require US citizens to obtain visas to enter. Likewise, all citizens originating from the three aforementioned nations must obtain a visa to enter the USA.

Luckily, most countries do not require a visa to visit if you hold a US passport, and even some countries that do will allow you to apply for a visa on arrival. Regardless, when you do need a visa the shock of finding out can ruin a trip, especially if you don’t find out until the day you depart. Most airlines will allow you to book a trip to a country that requires a visa without having you confirm whether or not you hold a valid visa. This leads to situations where people book trips that they cannot attend due to not being aware of the necessity to obtain a visa!

What Countries Require Visas and Where Can You Apply?

As mentioned above, the list of countries that require visas change depending on your country of origin. We’ll be focusing on countries that require visas for US citizens though, in particular we’ll be looking at visas you’ll have to apply before arriving in the country. To begin, here’s a list of every country that requires a visa for entry for those entering with a US passport:

  • Afghanistan
  • Algeria
  • Angola
  • Australia
  • Azerbaijan
  • Benin
  • Bhutan
  • Burundi
  • Cameroon
  • Chad
  • China
  • Congo
  • Cuba
  • Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Eritrea
  • Gabon
  • Ghana
  • India
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • North Korea
  • Liberia
  • Libya
  • Mali
  • Myanmar
  • Nauru
  • Niger
  • Nigeria
  • Oman
  • Pakistan
  • Russia
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Sierra Leone
  • Somalia
  • South Sudan
  • Sri Lanka
  • Sudan
  • Syria
  • Turkey
  • Turkmenistan
  • Uganda
  • Uzbekistan
  • Venezuela 
  • Vietnam
  • Yemen

A notable exemption from the list is Brazil, which recently waived visa requirements for US citizens. Applying for a visa varies from country to country. Some countries, such as India and Australia offer the option to apply online, which can take a few days. Other countries such as Nigeria require you to apply directly at their embassy and get your bio-metrics taken at a nearby facility. In the case of Nigeria, you don’t even have the option of applying through a third-party. Consequently, this means you’ll need to be physically present.

This rule does not hold true for all visa. China and Russia, two of the most visited countries on the list, allow you to apply with third-party services. These private couriers can greatly reduce the headache of the entire application process. While this does incur an additional cost on top of the base visa application fee, it does save you time and money.

How Can Third-Party Services Save You Time and Money

A Jurisdiction Map for the Chinese Consulates in the US.

So, how can applying through a third-party courier service will save you money on your visa? It’s a good question, one would think that doing everything yourself would be the most optimal way of applying as it gives you full control of the process. This isn’t always the case though. Unless the country allows you to apply for your visa online, you’ll most likely have to make a trip to the nearest consulate or embassy which might not even be in your state!

Let’s use China as our example. There are several Chinese Consulates dotting the United States, but you may only apply to the consulate that serves your jurisdiction, your jurisdiction is determined by the state which issued your driver’s license (or state ID). You can find a jurisdiction map for US citizens above. Let’s say you live in Utah, while the consulates in Texas, San Francisco, or LA may be closer to you geographically, you’ll still be required to apply out of the Embassy in DC because of where you dwell. As a result, third party couriers can come in hand.

A private courier is registered with the consulate and may take the application to the consulate on your behalf. Couriers are also permitted to pick up your application once it has been completed. Because of this, they are able to ship it to you using their preferred method of shipping. So while you may be paying a bit extra for shipping and courier fees, you save yourself a trip to the Consulate to drop off your application, as well as the return trip to pick it up. 

Do I Need a Passport to Apply for a Visa?

In most cases you will need a valid passport to apply for a visa. The reason why is because your passport information will be registered with the country you are entering with in order to obtain your visa. Not only this but, assuming you won’t be applying for your visa online, you’ll have to submit your physical passport. This does mean that if your passport is expired or if you are out of valid passport pages, you’ll need to either apply for a new passport or a passport renewal. 

If you don’t have a passport at all and are traveling to a country that requires a visa this does mean you’ll need to acquire a new passport as well as applying for a visa. Depending on how you go about obtaining the passport and which country you intend to visit, this process could take upwards of a month.

How Do I Get Started?

If you don’t want to wait a month for your passport, you can always apply with us, here at The Passport Office. We offer professional private courier services that allow us to get you your passport in as quickly as one day depending on your situation. You can apply online, or visit one of our many offices across the nation to get your application started today.

Likewise, we offer many visa services over at Visa Service Department, and we offer specialty services with China Visa Department. As veterans in the travel documentation industry, we offer you secure passport-to-visa services with some of the lowest rates in the business. Our offices offer both passport and visa services, so give us a call, visit us online, or stop by in person to inquire about what you’ll need to travel or to get the process started today.

What not to Pack when Traveling out of the Country

You just applied for your new passport and you’re ready to travel out of the country. Remembering to bring your new passport with you on your trip is not the only thing you need to think of. You also have to remember what not to bring.

Map with scattered travel items

While traveling internationally can be both fun and exciting – whether you’re traveling for work, pleasure, or to visit family – it’s essential to make sure that the belongings that you take with you are both practical and legal. The fact is, many things that are perfectly logical to own in your residence in the United States is not only unnecessary abroad, but could also lead to you getting arrested.

Before you travel out of the country, take a quick look through your luggage. If you see any of these four things in your bags, you should remove them immediately.

Your Toiletries

Many of us take our personal hygiene very seriously. We live in a culture that values cleanliness, which is why it’s so tempting to throw your entire medicine cabinet into your suitcase. While you may think that you can’t live without your expensive face cream or feel like you absolutely must bring your economy-sized tube of toothpaste with you, they can get left behind. Furthermore, TSA is extremely picky about what can make it through security, which means that your hygiene products will probably get tossed even before you make it to your gate. Most countries have fully stocked drugstores and pharmacies, allowing you to stock up on your essentials after you land.

Your Valuables

When you travel, you want to look your very best. It’s understandable to want to bring your Rolex with you, or your great grandmother’s heirloom earrings. That said, unlike your toiletries, some things simply cannot be replaced if something happened to them. Not only do expensive, flashy belongings make you a target for dishonest people, it’d break your heart if you lost or misplaced them. If the object in question – whether it’s a piece of sentimental jewelry or an expensive gadget – is priceless to you, then you should just leave it behind.

Your CBD

CBD (cannabidiol) has been a miracle for millions of people. It’s been shown to help treat a huge array of health concerns, such as anxiety, chronic pain, depression, and even epilepsy. If you take CBD for your wellbeing, it’s tempting to want to bring it with you on your international travels. Despite being completely legal in the United States, though, many countries (including China, Belgium, Russia, as well as others) outright forbid the possession of CBD. Not only will it likely get confiscated by customs, you may also get arrested if you try to take it along with you. Before you leave, you need to first check to make sure your CBD is legal in the country that you’re visiting. Doing so can help save you a lot of stress, time, and money in the long run.

Your Entire Wardrobe

Very rarely do people under pack for a trip. Nevertheless, this is a huge fear that drives many people to overstuffing their luggage with all of their belongings from their closet. What if it rains? What if it gets cold? What if you do wind up needing that hideous color blocked, poorly fitting sweater that’s tucked far back in your closet even if you wouldn’t touch it with a ten-foot pole in a normal day? Look, you don’t need half of the things you’re trying to take with you. A couple pairs of pants, a few shirts, some practical shoes, your new passport, and some fashionable accessories. No, you don’t need to pack fifty pairs of underwear. Prune back your suitcase and try to travel light. When you wind up wearing the same three shirts on rotation the entire time you’re there, you’ll be glad you left all that unnecessary stuff behind.

Traveling internationally can be full of its ups and downs. To help ensure more ups (time with family, new sights and new foods to try, and loads of fun adventures) than downs (international prisons, long lines in customs, and a disappointing trip overall); however, stick to our packing recommendations. By packing light, leaving your expensive valuables at home, making sure you bring your new passport with you, and skipping the CBD, you can help make sure you have a safe, happy, and pleasant trip – no matter where your travels with your new passport take you!

A Detailed Checklist of Documents Required for the Passport Renewal of a Child

Are you planning an international trip with your family? If you’ve realized your child’s passport is expiring soon, it’s time to apply for a new one. To help you prepare, we’ve compiled this comprehensive checklist of documents that you’ll need to gather before the renewal appointment.

This checklist details the documents required for passport renewal for children under 16. U.S. passports issued for children under the age of 16 are valid for 5 years. There are some differences in the documents needed for passport renewal for 16-year-old and 17-year-old children. More details about these requirements for older children are listed later in this article.

Young girl with passport

Completed Passport Application Form

The first thing you should do is complete the application. While adults use the renewal application (DS-82) to renew their passports, children must use the application form (DS-11). You can find form DS-11 at Travel.State.Gov.

Complete the application before your appointment with your passport renewal agency. Be sure to answer all the questions completely and accurately. The emergency contact person you list on the application form must be living in the United States. Do not sign the application until instructed to do so in person. After completing the application, print the form and bring it with you to your passport appointment.

For any child who does not have a Social Security number, the parent must submit a signed and dated statement along with the passport application form that includes the following specific phrase:

<em>”I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States of America that the following is true and correct: (Child’s full name) has never been issued a Social Security Number by the Social Security Administration.”</em>

Child’s Current Passport or Other Proof of Citizenship

The application form is just the first step. You’ll also need several other passport renewal documents. When renewing a child’s U.S. passport, you’ll be asked to submit their current passport along with a photocopy.

If your child’s passport has been lost or destroyed, you must still submit the documents to prove the child’s citizenship. An older, expired U.S. passport is acceptable, but it must be undamaged.

A U.S. birth certificate is also commonly used to verify citizenship. The certificate must be issued by the city, county, or state of the child’s birth. It must list the applicant’s full name, birthday, place of birth, as well as the parents’ full names.

Additionally, the date in which the birth certificate was filed with the registrar’s office must be within one year of the child’s birthdate, and the birth certificate must include the registrar’s signature. To be accepted, the birth certificate must also feature the seal of the issuing authority. To prove citizenship, it cannot be a photocopy or a notarized copy, nor can it be laminated, as that could be grounds for instant rejection.

For those kids not born in the U.S., a Consular Report of Birth Abroad or Certification of Birth is acceptable to prove citizenship. A Naturalization Certificate or Certificate of Citizenship can also be used.

Document to Show Parental Relationship

Another one of the documents required for passport renewal is a document that shows the parent-child relationship. It must list the parent(s) or legal guardian(s) of the child that needs the passport renewal. The original document plus one photocopy must be turned in with the passport application. The following documents may be used to establish a parental relationship:

  • U.S. birth certificate.
  • Adoption decree.
  • Consular Report of Birth Abroad CRBA).

The parental relationship documents must be original or certified copies.

Document to Prove Parental Identity

Parents or guardians must also prove their own identities with one of the following documents needed for passport renewal:

  • Undamaged U.S. or foreign passport.
  • Original Naturalization Certificate.
  • Current government employee ID.
  • Current military ID.

You need to bring both the original documents proving parental identity as well as one photocopy to your appointment. You should also be aware that if the parent’s name on his or her ID does not match the name on the document used to establish the parental relationship, you may need to submit additional documentation to establish a name change for the parent or guardian. 

Parental Consent for Issuance of the Passport

Parents also need to provide consent for their child to get a new passport. The best way to show parental consent is for either parents or guardians to appear with the child in person at the appointment. However, if both parents/guardians cannot be there, there are several other options to show consent, depending on your situation.

If you have sole custody of the child

You must submit evidence such as a complete court order, granting you sole legal custody of the child or specifically permitting you to apply for the child’s passport. A certified copy of the child’s birth certificate or adoption decree listing you as the only parent will also be accepted. A certified copy of the other parent’s death certificate and a judge’s declaration of the other parent’s incompetence are also acceptable options.

If one parent is unable to appear

The parent or guardian who cannot appear to apply for their child’s passport renewal can grant permission by completing Form DS-3053 “Statement of Consent.” The form must be signed, dated, notarized, and submitted along with the application. Notarized consent is only valid for 90 days.

If you cannot locate the other parent

Along with the passport application and other documentation, you must submit Form DS-5525 Statement of Exigent/Special Family Circumstances.” The form needs to be completed with as much detail as possible. Bring additional supporting evidence if possible.

If neither parent is able to appear in person A third party can apply for the child’s passport renewal if neither parent/guardian can appear. The third-party must have a notarized statement from either parents or guardians granting the third-party permission. They must also have a photocopy of the parents’ or guardians’ identification.

One Passport Photo

Of course, your child’s picture is one of the key components of the passport. One photo must be submitted with the child’s passport renewal application. The photo must be in color and must have been taken within the last six months. It needs to be a clear, natural image of the child’s face – no filters or enhancements. It must use a white or off-white background. The photo should not be a selfie. Both eyes must be open, and the expression should be neutral or a natural smile. The angle should be face-forward and the full face in view.

The child cannot wear eyeglasses, hats, head coverings, or headphones in the photograph. If hats or head coverings are worn continuously for religious or medical purposes, a signed statement from the parent (for religious) or from the doctor (for medical) needs to be submitted with the application. The child should not wear any type of uniform or camouflage attire. They should simply wear everyday clothing. The photo should be high resolution – not blurry or pixelated. It should be printed on photo quality paper with a matte or glossy finish. It shouldn’t be smudged or damaged in any way. The correct passport photo size is 2 x 2 inches with the child’s head between 1 inch and 1 3/8 inches from the chin to the top of the head. Do not attach the photo to the application.

Documents Required for Passport Renewal for 16- and 17-year-old Children

If you have older kids, the passport renewal process can be a little different. Passports issued for applicants 16 and older are valid for 10 years. Many older kids can handle renewing their passports on their own with just a little help from Mom and Dad.

Children who are 16 and 17 years old should fill out form DS-11 and provide citizenship evidence along with one passport photo as detailed above. However, 16- and 17-year-olds do not necessarily need to bring their parents with them to renew their passport. They must only show that one parent or guardian knows they are renewing their passport. If a parent or guardian submits a written objection, the renewal application can be denied.

To show parental awareness, teens should ask one of their parents or guardians to appear with them when applying for passport renewal. The agent will then ask the parents or guardians to sign Form DS-11. If they cannot come along, the applicant can bring a signed, notarized statement of consent from a parent or guardian, along with a photocopy of their identification.

An ID, original and photocopy, is one of the necessary passport renewal documents when applying to renew a passport for ages 16 to 17.

Acceptable types of identification include:

  • Fully valid, in-state driver’s license (out of state ID requires an additional form of identification).
  • Fully valid, undamaged U.S. passport (expired is acceptable).
  • Valid foreign passport.
  • Certificate of Naturalization or Citizenship (only if the photo looks like you).
  • Current government employee ID.
  • Current U.S. military (or military dependent) ID.
  • Mexican Consular Identification (Matricula Consular).

Gathering all the documents required for passport renewal of a minor can seem like a hassle. However, preparing the passport renewal documents months ahead can make the renewal process more convenient and hassle-free!

Learn more about how to apply for passport, get a quick passport, renew your passport, replace a damaged passport, and much more through The Passport Office – the top passport renewal agency.

The Business Travelers’ Guide To Success

When you travel for business, there are a few things to keep in mind. In order to save time, feel on top of your game, and be prepared for the business matters that come your way on the trip, follow these tips to be a successful business traveler. 

The first step before getting onto the plane, train, or boat for your international business trip is to secure your paperwork needed to travel. It can be easy to forget about your passport expiring and many times you’ll be expected to jump on a plane instantly for work. This is why The Passport Office offers expedited passports so that you can get a quick passport and be on your way to your next trip in no time. You can apply for your passport renewal with a few clicks of a button and The Passport Office will deliver your new passport to the address you provide in a matter of days. 

Smiling business man handing ticket to flight attendant

Being properly prepared and having your things in order before traveling is imperative to make a good impression on your coworkers and collaborators that you are bound to meet during your next business trip. Whether it is your first trip with a new company or if you regularly travel for work, be sure to look into these steps so that you can be well-equipped for your next business venture.  

Plan Ahead

Careful planning and making sure to give yourself enough time to make arrangements is the key to every successful trip, including when you travel for business. In fact, it can be even more important to be properly prepared when you have your coworkers and business partners relying on you for a successful and well-organized trip.  

Business travelers who are known to be planners leave nothing to chance. If you want to be super organized, you can go so far as to book your exact seats on a plane to all your restaurant reservations. This can be comforting, as knowing what to expect when you arrive frees your mind for other things.    

At a minimum, it’s vital to map the route to your hotel and to double-check the dates on your lodging and rental car reservation. Bring a watch or some sort of extra alarm so you can be sure not to miss your flight or any of your business meetings. If you are going on a shorter business trip, plan to bring carry-on luggage to prevent the chance of your luggage getting lost or delayed.  You should also be sure to order your passport ahead of time. If you happen to forget about your passport until the last minute, The Passport Office can help you apply for and order a quick passport so that you can make sure to catch your flight and successfully travel for business. 

However, it can be possible to over-plan, and in so doing, you can miss out on an opportunity that might be valuable or exciting. While planning every minute is a good thing, take some time out and let the day naturally progress on its own. You might find a break from your constant planning a welcomed relief.  

Pack Light  

Pack the basics and then just a few more. There’s no need to over-pack when you travel for work. However, it’s wise to bring a few essential comfort items to help keep your sanity while traveling with coworkers. For instance, a pair of earplugs and a small pillow can be a lifesaver if you need to catch some sleep on the plane or block out the sound of a snoring roommate at night. Packing snacks and a book are good ways to pass the time and can cut down on airport food costs and provide entertainment for you the whole way to your destination. Bring a pack of cards, which don’t take up too much room, can fit easily in your purse, and can provide a bonding opportunity for you and a coworker during a layover or a meeting break. 

Don’t forget the essentials like your passport, plane ticket, and any work materials. Keep these on hand and nearby so you can easily access them at the airport and can move quickly and efficiently through security lines.  

When packing your clothing, bring a few extra tops in case there are any food or drink spills that accidentally happened. Solid colored blouses or button-downs are always a good choice, as they’re easily interchangeable and will match with an assortment of your pants and blazers.  

Dress For The Job You Want 

Business woman at the airport on the phone with luggage.

As long as we’re on the subject of packing, remember to bring clothing that not only fits the occasion, but clothing that is a step or so above your current position. Dressing to impress is always a wise decision and is bound to show your coworkers and other businesspeople at your conferences what you’re made of.  

If you’re flying with coworkers or are meeting clients at the airport, make sure that your comfortable airport attire is still work-appropriate. Opt for something that is cozy yet still professional, like flats or a flowing dress. 

Often, companies like to save a few dollars by pairing coworkers up in hotel rooms. If you know that you’ll be sharing a room with a coworker, don’t rely on the hotel to provide you with a robe. Be sure to pack a set of modest sleepwear so that you’ll feel comfortable and still be respectable to the coworker you’re sharing the room with.  

Have Fun, But Not Too Much Fun 

You’re most likely going to be spending a lot of your travel time in meetings and with coworkers or clients. By getting up early and staying up a little later than usual, you can still make some time for yourself and explore whichever new exciting city you’re in. Everyone must eat, so when you and your coworkers go for a meal, make it somewhere fun!  

Even if you aren’t in a major city or headed to a beachside resort, work trips can still be a fun adventure. Every destination, no matter the location, has something to keep you and your coworkers entertained. During your planning stage you can look into restaurants you’re interested in and tourist destinations or shows to see.  

While everyone is entitled to make a work trip enjoyable, keep in mind that the purpose of this trip is to travel for business and as such, it isn’t your personal vacation. Even when you’re technically off the clock, when you’re at after-hours events with your co-workers, you should maintain a professional demeanor. It is not the time to ride the mechanical bull, drink more than your share, or go all out at karaoke. What happens at the work conference doesn’t necessarily stay at the work conference, and you want to maintain a professional standard, especially when it will be getting back to your supervisor. A good rule of thumb is not to drink more on a work trip than you would at any other business function. 

Be Flexible 

It’s inevitable that changes in the itinerary will come up or something won’t go according to plan. Part of traveling is embracing these fluctuations in life! Any experienced traveler will tell you the benefits of maintaining a positive attitude, especially in a time of stress or crisis. Thinking on your toes can be rewarding when you find a solution at the last second. Laughing off an unpleasant interaction at the airport will keep everyone around you feeling light and moving past any negative tension. After all, attitudes are infectious, and a good one can set the tone for everyone involved on the trip. 

If your passport is lost or stolen, you can always order a passport from the respected expedited passport agency, The Passport Office. With a new quick passport, you won’t need to interrupt any of your business travel plans and can keep your cool around all your coworkers and clients. With just a few clicks online, The Passport Office can replace your lost or stolen passport, get a passport renewal or receive an expedited passport in no time! 

4 Situations that Call For Expired Passport Emergency Renewal

If you’ve got a big international trip coming up and an expired passport sitting in your travel bag — and you only have a few days until takeoff — you’ve got a problem.

But just because everyone’s expecting you doesn’t mean you can jump to the front of the line and get an expired passport emergency renewal in less than six to eight weeks, the standard turnaround for a ticket out of the country.

Or does it?

Actually, there are certain scenarios where you can get a renewal of an expired passport today, sometimes in as little as a few hours.

The secret is to go to your local Passport Agency.

But here’s the catch: you must have travel already booked (with proof), a filled-out passport application with supporting documentation (expired passport or birth certificate), and a 2″ by 2″ color photo in front of a white or off-white background.

And be prepared to wait in line and pay an extra $60 on top of the cost of your passport ($110 for a renewal and $145 for a first-time passport).

passport renewal form

1. Life-or-Death Emergency

If there’s a serious illness, injury or death in your immediate family and your flight leaves within 72 hours, you have what the Department of State calls a Life-or-Death Emergency, and it gives you the highest priority.

That means you can call your local Passport Agency and schedule an appointment to meet with an agent and get your expired passport emergency renewal before your imminent flight.

But you still need to gather a bunch of materials and bring them to your appointment — like a filled-out form, a 2″ by 2″ picture, a copy of your ticket and your old passport.

Make one mistake, however, and you could be sent to the back of the line for a few more hours, or they might even send you home to come back another day if you’re missing something big.

And if you don’t have an appointment or your flight leaves tomorrow and you don’t have time to make one, you better show up early.

That’s because, like the DMV, they’ll serve people with appointments on time, but everyone else gets a number. And if you’re not there hours before they open, you could end up waiting behind dozens of people all day instead of catching your flight.

2. Urgent International Travel Plans

If your flight leaves within two weeks and you don’t have a life-or-death situation, you can still book an appointment at your local Passport Agency and get an expired passport emergency renewal.

The catch is that you can’t book an appointment more than two weeks out from your travel date, so make sure you’re not calling your local Passport Agency too early because they’ll just tell you to call back later.

You can, however, try your luck by showing up sans-appointment at a Passport Agency, but there are no guarantees.

Even if you’re one of the first in line, a simple mishap like a missing piece of documentation or an unacceptable photo can hold up your renewal of an expired U.S. passport.

And even if everything’s perfect, a stubborn agent might not take too kindly to someone skirting the rules and block your renewal.

3. You’d Rather Not Wait

If you’re like most people and you’d simply rather not wait the couple months it can take to get a new passport in the mail — longer if it gets lost or there’s some kind of hang-up — you can apply for an expedited passport emergency renewal at a passport acceptance facility or through the mail.

The best part is that you don’t need a reason to expedite, and you also don’t need proof of travel or even real travel plans at all; you can expedite your passport just because you don’t want to go through the regular channels and wait forever.

That all sounds good until you realize you need a different form than what’s required by a normal passport renewal, and it’s not clear how long it’ll actually take — the Department of State says under six to eight weeks.  Generally, it’s known that a “typical” expedited renewal will take two or three weeks, to use this approach, but you will not be provided a delivery date and things can get lost in the mail. 

The kicker is that your passport will be sent via First Class Mail unless you pay for 1-2 day delivery service on top of the $60 expedite fee and the $110 passport renewal application fee.

4. The Non-Emergency Expired Passport Emergency Renewal

But if you really don’t want to wait — and you don’t have an emergency but you do have tickets and travel plans — you can try what we call the expired passport emergency renewal for non-emergencies.

It works like this.

Gather all your materials, including a copy of your ticket, a filled-out passport renewal application, your old passport or a birth certificate, a correctly-sized color photo and enough cash to cover all the fees, and bring everything to the closest Passport Agency.

Keep in mind, however, that there are only a couple dozen Passport Agencies nationwide, so even if there’s one in your state — most states have none — you may have to travel and book a hotel to make this work.

The idea is you want to be first (or close to first) in line when they open, but give yourself a couple hours’ buffer here. Trust us; if they open at eight, show up at five or six.

And if you’re at the front of the line when the doors open and you get a helpful agent, you could be walking out of the Passport Agency with a brand new passport. Just think of the places you could go!

But not so fast. If they’ve got a lot of appointments or you’re missing the smallest little thing, you’re out of luck, and you’ll have to come back another day.

Let The Passport Office Help

If all that sounds like a nuisance, we agree.

Here at The Passport Office, we can help you get an expedited passport renewal without all the fuss.

We’ve helped thousands of travelers just like you skip the lines, confusing forms and complicated picture requirements by helping you through every step of an expired passport emergency renewal.

And if you’re missing anything, we’ll courteously walk you through it, not kick you back to the end of the line.

Just check out our easy-to-use passport renewal application form or call or click today to see how we can help you!