Like most Americans, you might not be traveling abroad anytime soon. After all, many countries are still closed to international tourists, making travel impossible. Even if your destination is open, you must show proof of a negative COVID-19 test to return to the United States, which could be a deterrent. Plus, the vaccination rate in the United States is among the highest of any country, so you can just opt for domestic travel instead – maybe by rent a motorhome for a road trip in national parks.
While international travel is probably still a long way off, you should collect your passport and check its expiration date. Now is one of the best times to renew your passport even if it doesn’t expire in 2021.
Why is this the best time to renew your passport?
Application processing is slower than normal
The State Department issued a notice earlier this year saying passport processing times are now 10 to 12 weeks. He also warned of delays in receiving passport applications due to unprecedented mail volume and other impacts of COVID-19 on the postal service. Additionally, he said COVID-19 has forced its agencies and centers to offer extremely limited in-person services.
Add all that up, and it’s reasonable to start applying for your passport renewal now, even if it doesn’t expire this year. Since you probably don’t have any upcoming trips abroad anyway, the deferred processing time won’t be detrimental to travel plans.
It may not be valid for some trips, even if it has not expired
Some countries require passports to be valid for at least six months after the dates of your travel.
This means that even if your passport doesn’t expire until 2022, you may not be able to travel abroad at the end of 2021 if it expires within six months. In fact, some airlines won’t allow you to board with a nearly expired passport (and hey, you probably don’t want to fly 20 hours to Dubai just to find that the UAE won’t let you into the country.) .
Expedited processing fees will eat into your vacation budget
If you procrastinate, all is not lost – except for a portion of your vacation fund. You can pay extra to receive a passport in four to six weeks (instead of the current 10 to 12 week deadline), but you’ll need to pay an additional $ 60 for expedited service. And even still, four to six weeks is not really fast. Double or triple this cost if you have family members who also require this service.
You can also use a passport to travel within the country (unless you have real ID)
Even if you don’t plan to travel overseas at any time over the next several years, a passport might be required for domestic travel.
From October 1, you will need a valid Real ID-compliant ID to board domestic flights. True ID is a driver’s license or state issued ID with a star. According to the Department of Homeland Security, residents of Washington, Michigan, Minnesota, New York and Vermont can also use their enhanced driver’s license for actual identification purposes. To get Real ID-compliant identification, you’ll usually need to go to your state’s driver’s license agency.
However, you can avoid a trip to the DMV for a new license by showing other acceptable identification at the airport, such as a passport or passport card. Depending on what your local DMV lines look like, it may be easier to just have a valid passport and use it for all domestic and international travel.
You actually have the time and the energy to deal with it now
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention might not heartily recommend traveling right now, but there is nothing wrong with dreaming about it. Why not supplement this anticipation by completing the passport documents?
As you travel through it, let your mind escape to a dream land filled with the sticky butterscotch pudding you’ll inhale once you finally land in London. In fact, planning a trip is really good for you. A 2010 study by social scientists in the Netherlands have found that just planning and imagining a trip is as much happiness as doing it.
Apply for your passport and enjoy the benefits of fantasizing about your trip. When the time is right, you won’t have to worry about the stress of renewing your passport.
How to renew your passport
Renew by email
Usually, the easiest way to renew your passport is by mail. You can do this if all of the following conditions apply:
You have your passport in your possession (and can submit it with your application).
It is not damaged (apart from normal wear and tear).
You received it when you were at least 16 years old.
It has been published for the past 15 years.
It was issued in your current name or you can submit documentation of your name change.
To apply by mail, you will need the following:
Your most recent passport.
Name change documents (such as a marriage certificate), if applicable.
Payment by personal check or money order to the US Department of State for $ 110 for a passport book, $ 30 for a passport card, or $ 140 for both.
Renew in person
If one of the five scenarios above does not apply to you, you will need to apply in person. To apply in person, you will need the following:
Proof of U.S. citizenship, such as a U.S. birth certificate or naturalization certificate, along with a photocopy of this document.
Valid identification, such as a driver’s license or state learner’s license with photo, plus a photocopy of it.
Payment (usually an application fee of $ 110 and an acceptance fee of $ 35).
You may need to provide additional documents to certain circumstances, as if you are under 16.
You will need to apply for a passport acceptance facility, which are usually post offices or clerks’ offices – and most are by appointment only.
If your passport has been lost or stolen
Maybe you moved during the pandemic and your passport got lost in the shuffle. Or you threw it in a box after a year of uncertainty as to when you would use it again – and now you can’t imagine finding it.
If you are getting a passport for the first time
If you’ve never traveled abroad before, that could change in the years to come. After all, the pandemic has inspired many travelers to cross off their bucket list trips once for all.
If you’ve always wanted to see the Eiffel Tower and resisted the right time, apply for your first passport now. You will need to apply in person, provide the appropriate documents and pay the application fee.
Frequently Asked Questions
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