Everyone wants to know when the best time to do everything is. Buy airplane tickets on a Tuesday. Fly on a Wednesday. Groceries on Wednesday, gas on Monday. Okay, we made that last one up, but here is the very best time to get or renew your passport: RIGHT NOW!
First off, there’s no sense in waiting. Only good things can come from being a passported individual. Travel to distant lands. Meet locals in exotic locales. Maybe find yourself while getting lost halfway around the world. All made possible by your passport.
Second off applies really to Americans: The line for passports is about to make the line at DMV look like amateur hour. Wondering why? Well, if you’re renewing a passport that you got ten years ago, you’re not alone. Not by a long shot.
A long, long time ago – 2006 to be exact – something called the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative took effect. For the first time, Americans needed passports when returning by air from Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean, and Bermuda. Millions applied then, and the State Department is anticipating millions to renew now. That could spell traffic jams in passport offices across the country.
Adding to that, many countries are now enacting or enforcing existing requirements for your passport to be valid for six months beyond your return date. Plus all of the confusion earlier this year surrounding the Real ID Act, has already led to an increase in passport applications. State Department officials told the New York Times that they expect to issue more than 17 million new passports and renewals this year, which is 1.5 million more than issued in 2015.
Already, the State Department’s website shows processing times of six weeks, about four weeks longer than this time last year. Can’t wait that long? Expedited passports are processed in about three weeks for an extra $60. Outside of that, the fee for a new adult passport remains at $135; renewals are $110. For minors, first-time passports are $105. (Ed Note: One of our team submitted in March and got their renewal back in just under five weeks. As the say, your mileage may vary.)
If you’re an avid “stamp collector” and routinely fill up your passport pages, be aware that you can no longer get extra visa pages. As of January 1, 2016, the Department of State will no long add visa pages to existing passports, a decision made to enhance security and comply with international standards. However, when you renew a passport, you do have the option of getting either a 24- or 52-page book.
If you do travel extensively, or would like to, you may want to apply for a second passport while you’re at it. Yes, you can have two U.S. passports IF you can demonstrate a need. Generally, you can get a second passport for political or logistical reasons. For example, you are traveling through sensitive countries which could raise eyebrows in certain other countries. (This currently applies only to the Middle East, where many countries deny entrance to travelers who have an Israeli passport stamp.) The State Department will also grant a second passport if you sent your original away to get a visa for one country but are planning to travel to another in the interim.
The application process for a second passport is identical to the original, except you’ll have to include a brief explanation for needing a second passport. The second passport has its own $135 application fee ($110 for renewals), and its own passport number, but it’s only valid for two years instead of ten.
The only question now is, why are you still sitting there? Shouldn’t you be getting in line at the passport office?
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