5 Things You Need To Know About Passports
5 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT PASSPORTS
In my 20+ years as a travel counselor, I’ve been asked lots of questions about passports. I’d like to answer the most frequently asked ones in this issue so that you can all benefit. Let’s understand the ins and outs of passports so that we can get these details behind us and just enjoy travelling.
What is a passport? How does it differ from a passport card?
A passport is an internationally recognized travel document that verifies your identity and your citizenship. Only the US Department of State and US Embassies and Consulates have the authority to issue or verify US passports. Most foreign countries require a valid passport to enter and leave. All US citizens travelling by air must present a valid passport to reenter the US. If you are travelling by land or sea, you must provide proof of citizenship and proof of identity. To cross by land into Canada or Mexico, you may use a less-expensive passport card. For more information, read http://travel.state.gov/content/travel/english.html
Do I need a passport if I’m taking a cruise from Galveston or the Port of Houston?
It’s a good idea, but not a requirement in most situations. When you depart and return to the same port you must have proof of citizenship, a passport or your birth certificate, government-issued ID (drivers license), plus a copy of your marriage license for women whose last name has changed since birth. A passport is a good idea because if an issue should arise while you are abroad without a passport and you need to fly home, you’re in trouble since a passport is required to fly into the US. It can be worked out, but not without a lot of red tape and stress and who needs that!
Do my children need passports?
Yes! Every person, even an infant, must have his/her own passport to fly to a foreign destination. Make sure you check the expiration date on your children’s passports because they expire in five years if the child was 15 or under when his passport was issued. Some countries have instituted requirements to help prevent child abductions and may require travelers to present proof of relationship to the children and evidence of consent from any non-accompanying parent(s). See child abduction country information pages for information about your destination.
This trip is our honeymoon. Can we travel as Mr. and Mrs. Smith?
We can understand how romantic it sounds to use your new last name on your honeymoon. However, your experience at airport check in will not be romantic, I can assure you. You must travel under the name on your passport. Usually that is your maiden name, so use that for your airline ticket. Your name on your airline ticket must match the name on your passport exactly. Once you arrive at your honeymoon destination, people will be happy to address you both as Mr. and Mrs. Smith. When you return have time, you can apply to have your name changed on your passport.
Can you help me, my passport was stolen?
This is a call no travel consultant likes to get. Ever! But it does happen, rarely. First, lock your passport in a safe place if you are not carrying it on you. If you are carrying it, place it in an interior, secured pocket. If it is stolen, it will need to be replaced before you can travel back to the US. This is where you need to contact the local US embassy or Consulate for assistance. Let them know when you are scheduled to travel home, and they will do their best to help you. They can direct you to a nearby location where you can get your passport photo taken prior to your arrival at their office. No need to panic, but you do need to take positive and immediate action.
If you have additional questions, we will be happy to answer them to help you prepare for your next trip abroad. Contact us!
Reprinted with permission from Karen Quinn-Quinn Travel Services