Waiting too long to apply.
If you do not have a passport yet, be sure you give yourself enough time to apply and to receive it in the mail. Regular passport service can take an average of six to eight weeks after the application is submitted. If you are in a rush, expedited service takes about three weeks, and also costs an extra $60.
Not checking the expiration date.
Before you go, always look at the year your passport was issued. According to Travel State.gov, add 10 years to the date of issuance if you were over 16 when you got the passport, or five years if you were 15 or younger. You can also head to Travel State.gov to find the expiration date of your passport by entering the year your passport was issued and how old you were at the time of issue.
Check the passport laws for the countries you plan on visiting. Some countries including Brazil, Singapore, Ecuador, Indonesia, Romania, Israel, Paraguay and Malaysia will not allow you to visit within six months of your passport expiration date. Countries including Denmark, Cambodia, Switzerland, Fiji and Greenland will not allow people with passports within three months of expiring. We determine and advise you for your destination(s).
Not having enough blank pages.
If you travel abroad frequently, you may be running low on space for stamps in your passport. In most countries, you will need at least two blank pages to be granted entry. Once it is full, you will need to apply for a new one. There is also an option to apply for a Frequent Travelers Passport which is a bit more expensive but will save you money in the long run.
Not renewing after a name change.
Have you recently gotten married and changed your name? It’s important not to forget to also change it on your passport. If it has been less than a year since your current passport was issued, you are eligible for a free change with a DS-5504 form. If it has been over a year, you will need to provide a renewal form along with a new photo and documents proving your new name.
Traveling with a damaged passport.
Significantly damaged passports are completely ineligible for travel, according to State Department guidelines. This includes water damage, substantial tears, missing visa pages and either damage, and rips or markings on your bio page in the front. You may think its fine if your passport has any sign of damage, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Apply for a new one online or by mail.
Additional Passport Tips from Accolades
Use your smartphone to snap a picture of your passport info-pages or carry a photocopy of the first two pages of your passport. When authorities only need data from your passport, your photo/photocopy allow you to leave your real passport in a safer (often harder to reach) place.
-ERIN WEILAND for travel Insured