6 passport questions, answered
You want to be able to fly internationally? You'd love to jet off to new destinations at a moment's notice? Then you need to keep a valid passport handy. Applying for your first passport can be a little bit of fuss and bother, but once you pass the checks, your new passport lasts for years, and renewing it is usually a piece of cake.
1) How long is a passport good for?
When you receive your new passport, check the date on the inside front cover next to your photograph. For individuals ages 16 or older, a passport is valid for 10 years after the date it was issued. Minors under the age of 16 receive passports that are valid for five years. But don't forget that you also need blank pages in your passport for visas and entry and exit stamps. If your passport's current, but the pages are all filled up, you have to apply for a new one. Frequent travelers should apply for a 52-page passport.
2) Which countries require six months of passport validity?
Sometimes, a valid passport isn't enough. The entry requirements for some countries state that a passport cannot expire within six months of arrival in that country, or in some cases, the passport cannot expire until six months after the planned exit date. Many Asian and South American countries enforce these rules. Sadly, you just can't wing it when it comes to entry regulations. If your passport doesn't meet the entry requirements of your destination country, the airline probably won't allow you to board the plane. Check the passport validity regulations on the country's embassy website.
3) When can you renew a U.S. passport?
You can renew your U.S. passport whenever you want, but the best time is usually about nine months before it expires. That way, your passport will meet the six months' validity that some countries require for entry, and you aren't restricted in your vacation destinations.
4) How long does it take to receive your passport?
It can take as long as six to eight weeks for a routine new passport application, so it makes sense to apply for your passport a couple of months before you travel. When life gets in the way of your plans, you can apply via an expedited service. Though you pay extra, the faster passport application service only takes two to three weeks.
5) What happens if you lose your passport?
Your passport is a valuable document, and you should know where it is at all times. If you do lose your passport, however, the sky doesn't fall in. As soon as you know your passport is lost, you have to contact the U.S. State Department's passport division by phone, or go online to complete DS-64 form, or mail a completed DS-64 form. To replace your lost passport within two weeks, you'll have to apply in person at a passport agency or center.
6) You changed addresses. Do you have to renew your passport?
Your passport doesn't show your address, so you don't need to update or renew your passport if you move. But if you're in the middle of applying for a passport, you have to tell the National Passport Agency your new mailing address, or your passport will be sent to your old home.