immigration, travel document, trip, citizenship, driver's license, passport
application, law, visa, travel
Caribbean Cruise Discounts!
16 Tips to Prevent Passport Problems
by: William Manor
Carelessness is the number one reason for a passport application being rejected
or delayed or for a passport being lost, stolen, or damaged.
What steps are necessary to prevent these things from happening? How can you
take care of your passport? Below are 16 practical tips you can follow to
acquire your passport, keep it in your possession, and preserve it in good
Before You Leave On Your Trip
1. Check to see if you even need a passport.
Countries can, and often do, change foreign entry requirements. If you arrive at
the airport without the required documents, you'll be denied boarding
privileges. And, of course, This isn't covered by travel insurance.
Currently, more than 80% of the world's countries require a valid passport for
entrance. It's important to verify the foreign entry requirements for the
country you plan to visit as early as possible.
2. Apply for your passport early.
You should apply for a new passport at least 90 days before your departure date.
For a renewal, begin the process 8 to 11 months before your passport expires.
Why so early? Many countries require that your passport have six to eight months
of validity remaining before they will issue a visa.
3. Fill out the correct form correctly.
Each type of passport service has specific criteria that must be met. Make sure
you get the right application form, and then fill it in carefully. Double-check
each entry. Ask a friend or relative to verify it as well. Errors made on the
application form can lead to delays, or even rejection of your passport request.
4. Follow the specifications for the required documents exactly.
When applying for a new passport, the most frequently used documents are a
certified birth certificate for proof of citizenship along with a valid driver's
license for proof of your identity.
Your birth certificate must be a certified copy with a registrar's raised,
embossed, impressed, or multicolored seal, registrar's signature, and the date
the certificate was filed with the registrar's office, which must be within 1
year of your birth. No photocopies are accepted. Your driver's license must be
more than six months old.
For a passport renewal, your previous passport serves as both proof of
citizenship and proof of identity. To be valid, it cannot be mutilated, altered,
or damaged in any way.
You must send two identical passport photos taken within the last 6 months.
These passport photos must be 2 x2 with a plain white or off-white background.
They have to be a full-face view with the head being from 1 to 1 3/8 inches from
the chin to the top of the head. The photos can be either color or black and
5. Sign both the passport application form and your check.
Surprisingly, many people forget to sign either the passport application form or
their check to Passport Services. Once again, check everything twice, or even
6. Request additional pages.
Are you a frequent flyer? Request a 48-page passport (at no additional cost). It
will allow you to travel longer before having to replace it.
7. Sign your passport and fill out the emergency information.
When your passport arrives, check to see that all the information contained in
it is correct. If it is, sign it and fill in your current address and the name
of a person to contact in case of emergency. If not, return it to the State
Department for correction.
8. Make two copies of your passport and photos.
Give one copy of your passport to a friend or relative who can be easily
contacted in case of an emergency. Take the other copy and the extra photos with
you on your trip. If you use an online document storage service, you can scan
your passport and upload a copy. That way, you can access it from almost
anywhere in the world.
While You're Away
9. Always keep your passport in a safe place!
Never leave your passport in your baggage, backpack, purse, car, hotel room, or
anywhere else! When you must carry your passport, keep it in a money belt or
inside coat pocket. Upon arrival at the hotel, put your passport in the hotel
10. Never lay your passport down anywhere.
Passports placed on a counter, phone booth or table can be easily forgotten or
stolen. Practice the habit of immediately putting your passport away after using
11. If you travel as a family or as part of a group, don't let one person carry
all the passports.
The odds are much greater for one person carrying all the passports to lose them
or have them stolen than for all the passports to be stolen or lost if each
individual owner carries them.
12. Never let anyone leave your presence with your passport.
When you're checking in at the airport, passing through customs, exchanging
currency, or doing anything else that requires you to show your passport, never
allow the person examining your passport to leave your presence. If the person
starts to leave, call their attention and request to accompany them.
Law enforcement records show that U.S. passports are sometimes used for unlawful
entry into the United States or by criminals abroad seeking to establish another
identity. You would be pretty embarrassed if your name were associated with
13. Immediately report the loss of your passport.
If you are careful and follow the tips above, you shouldn't have any problem
with the loss of your passport.
If it does occur though, immediately notify the local police and then proceed to
the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Take the copy of your passport and extra
photos with you. You will be issued a temporary passport that you can replace
upon returning to the United States.
After You Return
14. Schedule your passport renewal.
Check the expiration date and make a reminder to renew your passport at the
proper time. Remember, you should begin the process 8 to 11 months prior to the
expiration date. Put the reminder somewhere where it won't be forgotten.
15. Check the number of blank pages remaining.
Some countries require a blank page for their visa. If you plan a future trip on
which you will visit various countries, you might need the same number of pages
as countries to be visited.
If you do not have an adequate number of pages but your passport is not due for
renewal, you can request additional pages.
16. Store your passport in a safe place.
If you have a safe in your home, keep your passport there. If not, consider a
safety deposit box at your local bank.
Follow the practical tips above and you can easily avoid passport problems and
more fully enjoy your international travels.
About The Author
William Manor is the owner of U.S. Passport Service Guide, a very useful and com
prehensive resource for U.S. citizens who travel internationally.