Like most Americans, you may not be traveling internationally anytime soon. After all, many countries remain closed to international tourists, making travel impossible. Even if your destination is open, you must present proof of negativity COVID-19 check to return to the United States, that could be a deterrent. Plus, the U.S. vaccination rate is one of the highest of any country, so you can simply choose to travel in the country – possibly by renting an RV for one. National park road trip.
While an international trip is still most likely still possible, you should get your passport and check it out when it expires. Now is one of the best times to renew your passport even if it hasn’t expired in 2021.
Why now is the best time to renew your passport
Process the application more slowly than usual
The State Department issued an announcement earlier this year that passport processing times are now 10 to 12 weeks. It also warned of delays in receiving passport applications due to the unprecedented volume of mail and other effects of COVID-19 on the Postal Service. Furthermore, it is said that COVID-19 has forced their agencies and centers to provide extremely limited direct services.
Add all that, and it makes sense to start applying for your passport renewal right now – even if it hasn’t expired this year. Since you may not have any upcoming overseas trips, delayed processing times won’t be detrimental to your travel plans.
It may not be valid for some travel – even if it has not yet expired
Some countries require a passport to be valid for at least six months after your travel date.
That means even if your passport doesn’t expire until 2022, you may not be able to travel internationally by the end of 2021 if it expires within six months. In fact, some airlines won’t let you board the plane with a passport that’s about to expire (and hey, you might not want to fly 20 hours to Dubai just to see the United Arab Emirates won’t allows you to enter this country).
Foreign Office National information site Provides detailed information on countries that have such requests.
The quick handling fee will eat into your vacation budget
If you procrastinate, not all is lost – except for some of your vacation funds. You can pay extra to get your passport after four to six weeks (instead of the current 10-12 week deadline), but you’ll have to pay an extra $ 60 for express service. And still, four to six weeks isn’t exactly fast. Double or triple the cost if you have a family member who also needs the service.
You may also need a passport to travel domestically (unless you have a real ID)
Even if you don’t plan on traveling internationally at any time for the next few years, a passport may be necessary for domestic travel.
Starting October 1, you’ll need a Real ID-compliant ID to board domestic flights. Real ID is a state issued driver’s license or identification card with a star. Additionally, residents from Washington, Michigan, Minnesota, New York and Vermont may use their Enhanced Driver License for Real ID purposes, according to the Department of Homeland Security. To obtain Real ID compliant identification, you will typically need to go to your state’s driver’s license agency.
However, you can avoid a trip to the DMV to obtain a new permit by presenting another accepted identification at the airport, such as a passport or passport card. Depending on how your local DMV routes are, it might be easier to just have a valid passport and use it for all domestic and international travel.
You really have the time and energy to solve it right now
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may not sincerely recommend traveling now, but there’s nothing wrong with dreaming about it. Why not supplement that prediction by filling out the passport paperwork?
As you flip through it, let your mind escape a dreamland filled with toffee candies that you’ll finally inhale when you finally land in London. In fact, planning a trip is really good for you. A 2010 study by social scientists in the Netherlands found that just planning and dreaming of a trip brings happiness as much as it really is.
Apply for your passport and immerse yourself in the benefits of daydreaming about your travels. When it’s time to really start, you won’t have to worry about the stress of renewing your passport.
How to renew your passport
Renew by mail
In general, the easiest way to renew your passport is by mail. You can do this if all of the following apply:
You own your passport (and can submit it with your application).
It is undamaged (other than normal wear and tear).
You get it when you are at least 16 years old.
It has been released over the past 15 years.
It is given to your current name or you can submit a document about your name change.
To subscribe by mail, you will need the following:
Completed Form DS-82.
Your most recent passport.
Name change documents (such as marriage certificate), if available.
Passport photos were taken within the past six months.
Pay by personal check or money order to the US Department of State 110 $ for the Passport Book, 30 $ for the Pass or 140 $ for both.
Mail your application and documents to the National Passport Processing Center (The address and renewal details can be found here).
Renew in person
If one of the five above situations does not apply to you, you will need to apply in person. To apply in person, you will need the following:
Completed Form DS-11.
Proof of US citizenship, such as a US birth certificate or Certificate of Naturalization, with a copy of that document.
Valid identification, such as a photo driver’s license or state study permit, with a copy of it.
Passport photos were taken within the past six months.
Payment (usually a $ 110 registration fee and a $ 35 acceptance fee).
You may need to provide additional documentation for certain situations, such as if you are under 16 years old.
You will need to apply at a passport-accepting facility, usually at post offices or city clerical offices – and most of all by appointment.
If your passport is lost or stolen
Maybe you moved during the pandemic and your passport got lost during the turmoil. Or you throw it in a box after a year of not knowing when you’ll ever use it again – and now you can’t figure it out.
You will need to Report your lost or stolen passport to the State Department. From there, you must apply for a replacement passport, and standard charges apply.
If you get your passport for the first time
If you have never traveled internationally before, that could change in the coming years. After all, the pandemic has inspired many travelers to pass the trips on their bucket list once and for all.
If you’ve always wanted to see the Eiffel Tower and have waited for the right moment, apply for your first passport now. You will be required to submit an application in person, provide appropriate documentation and pay the application fee.
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Sally French writes for NerdWallet. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @SAFmedia.