Preparing for international travel, please be prepared before you show up at the airport. It is simply frustrating to get turned away due to an expired passport, or a name change. Check these before making crucial a mistake.
- Expiration Date – a general rule, passports should have at least six months of validity when traveling internationally. Most countries will not permit a traveler to enter their country unless the passport is set to expire at least six months after the final day of travel.
- Name change – once you legally change your name with the Social Security Administration, your passport is no longer valid; to restore its validity please update your name with certifiable proof of your name change using a DS-82 form from the State Department.
- Apply early – because passports seem to take forever to receive or renew, so be sure this is the first item to be checked off your list. In general, passports take at least six weeks to arrive on time. If you require it sooner, expedited services will cost and take about three weeks.
- Please proofread – no typos because an error on your passport application will result in a missed flight. You will be required to correct it before heading through security, but a saving grace is the correction process is free, by completing online a DS-5504 form.
- Happy travelling – is having many stamps in a passport book, some countries require you to have two to four blank pages in your passport.
The first U.S. passports were issued in the late 1700s. They were more like reference letters than a mode of identification. By the late 1800s, passports were becoming more mainstream, but they were still considered more of a travel perk for the holder than a requirement to cross borders. Today, millions of Americans carry a passport with them on every trip they make. The passport has a rich history that traces the development of international travel and who has or has not had access to it. It was first issued by Benjamin Franklin in the 1780s.
The History of U.S. Passports
The U.S. was among the first countries to require a passport photo. Passports weren’t officially required for international travel until 1920. The standard passport format was established by the League of Nations at a conference in 1920. A married woman could request an individual passport and be issued one using her married name, but using her maiden name was not allowed. Gender was not listed on U.S. passports until 1977. Since 2010, transgender citizens have been able to apply for a passport reflecting their current gender. Non-binary travelers are still fighting to be recognized on the document.
Real ID is soon becoming a priority in October of 2021.
The Real ID
An Real ID is providing identity evidence, as well as proof of U.S. citizenship and a driver’s license that is making the life of U.S. citizens easier when it comes to crossing the border. It includes a Machine Readable Zone, or a barcode that allows the CBP officer to read it electronically
The Department of Homeland Security announced on December 20, 2013 a phased enforcement plan for the REAL ID Act (the Act), as passed by Congress. The purposes covered by the Act are: accessing federal facilities, entering nuclear power plants, and, no sooner than 2016, boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft. The Act established minimum security standards for license issuance and production and prohibits federal agencies from accepting for certain purposes driver’s licenses and identification cards from states not meeting the Act’s minimum standards. It has been 15 years since the REALID Act was passed. Due to circumstances resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and the national emergency declaration, the Department of Homeland Security extended the REAL ID enforcement deadline to October 1, 2021.
Global Entry is a necessity for the frequent international traveler.
A program of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection service that allows pre-approved, low-risk travelers to receive expedited clearance upon arrival into the United States via the SENTRI and NEXUS lanes and through automatic kiosks at select airports. Land and sea enrolled users are provided with an RFID-enabled Global Entry membership card that may be used to enter the United States via expedited “Ready Lanes,” akin to NEXUS lanes from Canada, or SENTRI lanes from Mexico.
The Global Entry application with Customs and Border Protection requires an interview which may take months up to a year to be completed, along with background check, photograph and finger prints There is no minimum number of international trips required to qualify for the Global Entry program: in fact, applicants qualify without any history or plans of international travel. Unlike other trusted traveler programs, like NEXUS, the fee applies to infants and children (some credit cards reimburse this fee to both the cardholder and household family members) An advantage to viewing the status online is that, if approved, the Known Traveler ID (“KTN,” required to be provided to participating airlines in order to receive the TSA Precheck) is supplied and may be used immediately.
Once an application is approved, the applicant may use the Global Entry kiosk at any participating airport for a duration of five years. Renewal of membership requires an additional fee (currently, the same $100 fee as charged for new applicants), and in some cases, renewal applicants are selected for a new interview The TSA maintains a list of credit card issuers and loyalty programs that reimburse members’ TSA PreCheck and/or Global Entry application fees.