While international travel has been curtailed over the past year, it’s likely to rebound in the coming months as more people become vaccinated against COVID-19 and more countries relax border restrictions.
If you’re starting to think about taking a trip abroad, whether it’s for business or pleasure, make sure you give yourself plenty of time to apply for a passport or get your old one renewed.
The State Department says it can take 10-12 weeks from the time you submit your application until your passport arrives in the mail. You can also pay an additional fee for expedited service that will cut the waiting time to 4-6 weeks.
Even if your passport hasn’t expired, the State Department advises that you may need a new one.
For example, some countries require that your passport be valid for six months beyond the date of your trip, and some airlines won’t allow you to board if that requirement isn’t met.
It’s also important to make sure that your passport is in good condition.
Damage can sometimes be a signal to security personnel that a passport has been tampered with or copied, and it may hold you up at a border. While some wear and tear is expected, if your passport has been significantly damaged, especially the cover or the page with your personal information and photo, you’ll have to apply for a new one.
Water damage, a significant tear, unofficial markings on the data page and torn-out pages are examples the State Department gives as reasons to apply for a replacement before you travel.
You can find more information on applying for a passport or renewing one, including fees and the location of the nearest passport acceptance facility, at travel.state.gov.
If you’re planning a trip within the United States, you should keep in mind that the long-delayed REAL ID requirement is set to go into effect this fall.
Beginning Oct. 1, every air traveler 18 years old and above will need a REAL-ID compliant driver’s license, state-issued enhanced driver’s license, or another acceptable form of identification to fly within the United States.
The legislation, passed by Congress in 2005, is designed to improve security, prevent identification fraud and make documents used for identification more consistent across the country. Federal agencies, including the Transportation Security Administration, will be prohibited from accepting identification that does not meet those standards.
The TSA will continue to accept other forms of identification at security checkpoints, including a passport, passport card, trusted traveler card issued by the Department of Homeland Security, military ID or a permanent resident card. In addition, five states — New York, Vermont, Michigan, Minnesota and Washington — issue enhanced driver’s licenses that are acceptable for boarding a domestic flight. REAL ID-compliant cards are marked with a star.
Check with your state’s department of motor vehicles for the requirements to obtain a REAL-ID license.
For help navigating any travel plans, contact your travel advisor or connect with one through Travel Leaders Network at travelleaders.com.