passport and visa renewal

Plan ahead before you travel internationally.

It has been a long time since many of us have traveled outside of the country, and we are out of practice.  Longing for London?  Planning for Paris?  All the way to Australia?  Considering Canada? Before you dust off your roller bag, check to see if your passport is up to date and has plenty of blank pages.  You need to plan ahead.

It is taking between eight and eleven weeks to process a U.S. Passport these days.  It can take five to seven weeks if you pay $60 to expedite your passport.  ASE subscriber, Sally L, shared this article from Travel and Leisure.

Here is some advice about planning your trip:

Learn the travel requirements specific to your destination.

The U.S. State Department website is free, and it will help you find out whether you need a visa, how many blank pages are required, COVID restrictions and travel advisory warnings at your destination. Get information on your destination.

Are you aware that European countries require that you have at least six months of validity remaining on your passport when you arrive?  You can find out if a visa is required at your destination.  We have visited Romania for business, so I typed it in as a possible destination. The information was right up to date and useful. I got a security alert that there are drifting mines in the Black Sea.  Perhaps we will wait until next year.  I checked South Africa and found that I would need an up-to-date yellow fever vaccination, at least 30 days remaining on my passport and two consecutive empty pages for a visa.  We have a friend who was turned away when he landed in Johannesburg for failing this last requirement.  Good to know ahead of time.

Pay attention to ‘high season’ when people travel, the holidays, spring vacation and mid-summer.  Passport processing times may be even longer than usual.  If your destination requires a visa, consider when it is most popular, processing times may be long.

In ‘the good old days’ the State Department would add pages to an existing passport in just a few days.  As of January 1, 2016, you can no longer have pages added.  If your passport is filling up, you need to renew and get a new one.

If you don’t want to be parted from your passport for 8-11 weeks or have left renewal or visas too late, there are private, professional passport and visa services that will expedite the process and let you avoid standing in lines – at a price.

 

Passport Rush, as the name suggests, is a private company that you can pay to get you a passport, renew your passport and get your visas.  Their home page offers useful travel tools like immunization requirements, weather, and travel warnings for your destination.  Among their services, they can get you a second valid passport if you have visas in your primary passport which would keep you from being admitted to some countries.  Been to North Korea lately?

Passport Rush

CIBTvisas is a private company that provides up-to-date travel information for your destination, especially visa requirements.  For a fee, they will get you a visa, renew your passport or get you a second, valid passport.  CIBTvisas   Fees range from $179 and upward depending on where you are going and how fast you need the visa.

CIBTvisas Passport Services claims that they can renew your passport in a day.  They offer many services including obtaining a second passport.

CIBTvisas Health Requirement information for destinations is up-to-date and easy to access. In this time of COVID and changing requirements, this is important.

Helpful travel tips:

Make two copies of all your travel documents in case of emergency and leave one with a trusted friend or relative.

Have you let your Global Entry and Trusted Traveler expire?  I recently had to renew my Global Entry and I initially faced a five-month wait for an interview.  Pro-tip: I went back to the website frequently and got an appointment within days because someone had canceled.  Global Entry, Trusted Traveler Programs

Enroll in the State Department Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to get security updates while you are abroad. The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program is a free service that allows U.S. citizens traveling or living abroad to receive the latest security updates from the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.