Why get a passport?

Why get a passport?

Why get a passport? Well the answer should be obvious, but to many it is not: If you are traveling to another country, you have to get a passport. If you ever want to see the world, you have to own your very own passport. However, getting that passport is often easier said than done.

Living in the EU you don’t need a passport if you are traveling within the union.  U.S. Citizens and others many times do not have to show theirs to travel between countries in the EU either, but you need one to get inside one of those countries in the first place.

Especially for those who live in the US, they will need this travel document now more than ever.  You’ve always needed one to fly to Europe or Asia or beyond…. now you need one to fly to Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.

Now to cross borders even in Canada or Mexico you have to show your credentials. That means a passport.

To cross  the borders into Canada and Mexico by land or by sea (that is driving or cruising) you currently need a passport, a passport card or a WHTI-compliant document.  Or you need a government-issued Photo ID, such as a driver’s license, along with proof of citizenship such as a birth certificate. WHTI stands for Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative.  There is a whole list of rules about what a WHTI-compliant document is.  If you think you qualify for one of these, you’d better check the rules at the U.S. Department of State and be sure.

Starting in July of 2008, the U.S. government began issuing U.S. Passport Cards.  These wallet-size cards are convenient and less expensive, but they can NOT be used for international AIR travel.  Watch for a future article for full explanation of what this card is.

Children traveling with you need passports too.  Even infants.

And no… they can not be expired.  Each traveler’s documents must be current and valid.  Depending on the rules of the country you’re traveling to, they might have to be valid for 3 to 6 months after you return from your trip. That means they can’t expire for several months after your return.

It is up to you to make sure you have the proper documentation.  You should not take the word of the airline you’re traveling with or the TSA or a travel agent.  They can all give you advice, but if any of them is misinformed, it’s your trip that will be delayed or ruined.

If you are planning on traveling anywhere outside US borders, the best advice we can offer is to get your very own passport. It will save you a ton of headaches and problems, and it literally unlocks the world. So go get that mugshot taken, fill out those forms, sign that little check, and go see what the world has in store for you!

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