You would be shocked if I told you how many times a reader, friend or family member has emailed, texted or called me in a panic because they’d just found out their passport had expired or was about to expire and they were leaving on an international trip. The operative word here is “were” because most of them weren’t able to get their passport back in time. RELATED: What You Need To Know About Renewing or Getting an Emergency Passport in the U.S.

Every January, one of my top travel tips is this: If you’re planning to travel out of the country this summer, now is the time to find your passport and make sure it’s valid. Actually, regardless of whether you’re planning to travel this summer or not, go find your passport and check the expiration date.

Remember that many countries require that your passport be valid for at least six months after your arrival date before they’ll grant entry to their country. It doesn’t matter if you’re only going for a day; if you don’t have at least six months validity, you could, and probably will, be denied entry.

Do yourself a favor before the summer crunch hits and you have to pay to expedite the process, renew or apply for a passport now. Here’s how.

It’s also a great time to get a passport as the U.S. State Department announced last month: “Passport processing times have returned to our pre-pandemic norm. As of December 18, 2023, passport applications will be processed within 6-8 weeks for routine service and 2-3 weeks for expedited service, which costs an additional $60.”

How Many Americans Have Passports?
Do you want some more good news? The number of Americans who now have passports has gone up drastically. According to the State Department in 1990, “only five percent of Americans had a passport. Today, that number is 48%.” Forty-eight percent is huge. Well done, Americans!

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What You Need To Know About Renewing or Getting an Emergency Passport in the U.S.

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3 Comments On "The Essential Thing Travelers Need to Do This January"
  1. A. Perry|

    Yes, sent for mind on 12/16/14 anticipating a delay because of the holidays, but was pleasantly surprised to receive my new passport back within 2-weeks and today received the old passport back. Nice that the old one is returned so you can hold onto it for ‘memories’ purposes.

  2. Don Smith|

    You’re right on regarding sufficient time remaining on the passport. ALSO, check the renewed passport for accuracy. When I tried to enter New Zealand with my “new one” did I discover my “sex” somehow got changed from “M” to “F”. Fortunately I was able to enter the country, but could have possibly faced problems elsewhere.

  3. Bette Munley|

    Great advice! My husband and I were traveling on a cruise from Oahu to Australia and told we had to disembark in New Zealand since we “dropped the ball” and didn’t have a visa for Australia. The problem was our Passport was expiring within the six months and the government was not allowing us to disembark. Thankful to a very kind and savvy RCCL employee the issue was resolved but obviously there was a great deal of anxiety on our part until it was! Please note that your Passport is technically six months LESS before expiration in many international countries

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