It may be blustery and cold now, but travel season will be here before you know it. To help you prepare for your summer adventures, I want to share a few tips to help you navigate around some avoidable travel obstacles — starting with a few passport reminders.
Passports – Don’t Wait to Apply or Renew
In 2007, the United States adopted the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative that requires its citizens traveling to and from Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, and the Caribbean to have a valid passport. Due to this change, many passports are now expiring, so the State Department anticipates a massive influx of renewals which could, in turn, cause a delay in the standard turnaround time for passport applications and renewals.
Additionally, due to the implementation of the Real ID Act, as of January 2018, it is likely that more passport applications and renewals will add to this influx. The Real ID Act stipulates that state-issued identification must meet certain requirements to be eligible for use for air travel. As of this date, Washington, Montana, Minnesota, Missouri and Maine remain non-compliant, and many others have received extensions to comply by 2020. (Current status of state compliance can be found at this site.) As these deadlines approach, it may add to normal passport processing time.
Also, many countries require you have up to six months of valid time remaining on your passport to allow travel into their countries. For example, entry to the 26 European nations in the Schengen Area (including popular destinations such as Spain, Italy, and France) requires a minimum of six months of validity for a traveler’s passport. So even though your passport may not expire in 2017, you still may need to renew it well in advance of your travel date and don’t want to be caught by processing delays.
Don’t Forget the Children
Passports of minors are only good for five years, and children under 16 require additional documentation. Therefore, if you plan to travel with kids, don’t forget to plan for some additional time for their passports too.
Passport Photo Changes
Also, effective November 1, 2016, new photo requirements stipulate that you cannot wear glasses in passport photos. Wherever you get your photos, make sure that they follow all the appropriate rules to avoid processing delays.
How to Renew
The best one stop shop for passport application and renewal information is found on the US State Department’s passport website. This site shows you the expected time to renew or obtain a passport (currently six weeks for regular processing.)
Join me next week when I share the best way to pay for items while traveling.
Roger Ward is a Principal at TrueWealth, LLC, a wealth management firm located in Atlanta, GA. He has more than 25 years of experience helping clients simplify the complications that come with managing wealth. He can be reached at email@example.com or 404.487.0404.
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