A new year brings a slew of opportunities and resolutions — and traveling is in the top for us. But if your strategy is to have a fantastic honeymoon, plan a romantic escape or a trip with friends, or just be ready to hit the road at the ideal chance, now is the perfect time to ensure you’re ready to go global when the moment comes. Many individuals don’t understand that, but just having a valid passport is not enough to guarantee smooth journeys, and there are multiple reasons that a nation can deny entry to someone carrying a seemingly legitimate passport. Here is what you want to test, asap.
Expiration date. This seems like an obvious one, but it’s not. Why? Most nations not only take a valid passport, but they need it to be valid for at least six months after the date you wish to leave that country. Which means you can intend to fly to Italy with three weeks left in your passport and still be denied boarding, or worse still be denied entry at the border and need to turn around and fly home So in case your passport is dying any moment in 2017, now’s the time to get it renewed!
Blank pages: Most nations issue visa admissions upon entrance, leaving you with those pretty stamps to fill up your own pages. But just like with expiry date, there’s a catch, and having one blank page left is not enough to guarantee entrance. Many countries require that you have multiple blank pages available for visas. It varies from place to place (South Africa requires at least 2), so I make sure I’ve four or three blank pages, just in case. It is well worth it to avoid being denied entrance, not to mention prevent getting seeking a page through your passport to stamp.
Tear and wear on your pay: It isn’t exactly what is in your passport that things, but what’s on the outside, also. Immigration agents can deny entry if your passport cover is secured, water trapped, punctured or otherwise damaged. (Damage is a tip-off for possible fraud, and they always err on the side of care.) If your cover is tired and tatty, get it replaced or recovered before you travel. You can do this via the U.S. Passport office, or in a hurry via a passport expeditor. If your passport gets damaged while traveling, you’ll need to visit closest U.S. consulate or embassy in order to get it sorted out, which can be inconvenient — not to mention pricey if it delays your return. So your best option is to keep it by carrying it in a passport holder that is groovy from getting damaged in the first place. (We love those at Flight 001.)
With the coming enforcement of the REAL ID Act, which requires federally accepted IDs for traveling of domestic flights (among other things), more people than ever are expected to apply for passports this season. Which means that there will be delays. Our advice: do it asap If you need to renew. The U.S. Department of State has all the info you need on renewing your passport or in person, or employing if you are a first timer. They even have a checklist of additional pre-travel tips.
(Note: This piece refers to United States passports, but the principles still apply.)