Friday, April 19, 2013

Passport Woes

Pretty soon the husband/lover/travel companion and I will be embarking on our 35th anniversary trip to St. Lucia.  I've been starting to make lists of things I must do before then, things I mustn't forget to pack, and last minute purchases and tasks I must take care of.  I have lists of lists.  Yes, I am just like that.

At the top of my DO NOT FORGET TO PACK list it says "Passports."

Things have changed a bit since the last time I renewed our passports, so I thought I'd use this post to gripe a little bit let you know some of the new requirements about passports of which I have recently become aware.

One of the new requirements is that there must be at least six months remaining until the expiration date.  In other words, if I return home from a trip on May 1st, my passport cannot expire before November 1st, or I may not be allowed to travel on my planned adventure.  What this means is that whereas before a passport was good for ten years, now it is only good for 9 1/2 years, even though the printed expiration date is ten years from the renewal date.  So if you're planning to travel internationally, check your passport's expiration date carefully.

The second thing I just got wind of is that many countries require you to have 2 to 4 remaining stamp/visa pages in your passport.  When I learned this, I went into a frenzy, digging out my passport and checking how many remaining pages I have.  I'm good to go, but this is another detail that you need to keep in mind if you'll be using your passport.

If you are planning to renew your passport anytime soon, you will need the passport renewal form available online, your old passport, two new passport photos, and a $110 adult renewal fee.

Be careful where you get your photos taken, though.  Last time I renewed I went down to my local CVS Store where I had noticed they had a passport photo corner set up with a blank pull down screen and a camera.  I got my picture taken, paid the fee, and sent the photos off with my passport renewal form and fee.

Unfortunately the photos were returned to me, deemed unacceptable by the Passport Office of the USA.  The letter said they were "too grainy" and therefore unusable.  I was ordered to have them taken again and resubmit my renewal request.

This time I had the pictures taken by my local AAA travel office.  They were accepted and I received my passport, although none too soon.  The delay caused by CVS's bad photos caused me a bit of stress wondering if my passport would get to me in time for my trip.  I had done all this four months prior to my trip, but still, any other unforeseen delays or mail loss could have created a problem with my trip departure.

I found it odd that the photo is taken without my glasses, and when I look at that photo, I have to remember to recognize myself.  I never go anywhere without my glasses, but I suppose glasses could be a form of a disguise, so I was made to remove them for the picture.

By the way, travel experts recommend that you make two color copies of your passport to expedite all the bureaucracy that will be involved if your passport is lost or stolen while traveling.  They recommend that you keep one copy in your carry-on luggage, and the other copy at home in the safe keeping of a trusted relative.

Done, and done.

Now I just need to get back to the other trazillion things still on my lists.


  1. Thought it would be cheaper for a renewel, guess not..My step mothers was stolen on her last trip, thank goodness for copies, one with her and one at home in her safe..Love lists, we have them for everything..On our computer we even have a file " Where did I put That " things you put away and forget where it is, ha no more wondering..enjoy your trip..

  2. They said to remove my glasses. Then they said to make sure my eyes were fully open. Then they said not to smile. I would not allow anyone who looks like my photo into any country, foreign OR domestic.

  3. Hope you have a wonderful time on your anniversary trip.