If you were one of the many caught in the 2007 passport crisis, renew now. The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative was implemented then requiring a passport for air travel to and from Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean replacing just a drivers license or birth certificate as acceptable entry requirements. The State Department experienced a tsunami of first-time passport applications, from about 12 million in 2006 to over 18 million in 2007. The passport book is valid for 10 years, and the agency is preparing for a bombardment of renewal applications from the WHTI Generation.
But wait. Isn’t my passport valid until 2017 if it were issued in 2007? Maybe, maybe not. Take careful look at your passport expiration date. Many countries, such as China, Brazil, Russia, Argentina and Ecuador require that your passport is valid for no less than six months after you return home. Several countries in Europe require three months validity after your exit date. Requirements will vary by country. For example, India requires six months of passport validity after the date which you apply for a visa, but countries in the United Kingdom will accept any valid passport. So do your research. The best source of online information is from the US State Department’s web site section on International Travel.
Simply select the country that will be visited, then click on the “Entry / Exit Requirements” link. Not only will the information tell you how long a passport has to be valid, it also provides information about visas and how to obtain one if needed.
Plus, you have great access to lots of other country-specific information, health information, and travel warnings.
Complete instructions for obtaining a passport can be found at http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en.html Travel tip: September through December is typically slow season for applications. Frequent jet-setters should request a 52-page book (same cost) so they can avoid any emergency trips to the passport agency.
Difference between a Passport Book and a Passport Card (I wish it would be renamed-it’s confusing:)
Bonus Travel Tip: Scan the front and back of your credit cards, your driver’s license, travel vouchers and the photo page of your passport. Email these to yourself as well as a family member or trusted friend and a travel companion. If your wallet, passport or travel documents are lost or stolen, you are prepared to quickly cancel credit cards, retrieve travel confirmations and expedite passport replacement by accessing any computer. When the unexpected happens, it can be heartbreaking. The ability to recover in short order can prevent a vacation disaster.