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TopConsumerReviews.com provides unique articles that you won't find anywhere else on the internet. These articles are designed to help you make the most informed decisions possible.

When Do You Need A Passport?

A passport is a document which is issued by a national government as a means of identification for the person who holds it. It certifies the identity and nationality of the person listed on the document, which is important when traveling internationally.

In the United States, passports are issued through one of the State Department's 14 passport issuing centers. They also can be issued through clerks at federal and state courts, designated post offices and U.S. consular authorities in foreign countries for citizens who are living abroad.

Passports expire every 10 years for citizens over the age of 18 and every five years for those under 18. Upon expiration, passports must be replaced if the holder wishes to continue having one. Because people change in appearance with age, passports cannot simply be renewed, but must be completely replaced, including with an updated photo of the passport holder.

There was a time when the only people who needed a passport were those who traveled internationally on a frequent basis, or those who worked as foreign diplomats. However, passports are becoming more widely used for more reasons than just travel. Since 2009, Americans have been required to possess a passport to cross the border into Canada when traveling by airplane, whereas before they only were required to have valid photo identification and a birth certificate to prove citizenship.

So with all of these changes afoot, when do you need a passport?

The primary reason to own one is for foreign travel purposes. Passports have been required for entry into foreign countries, as well as re-entry into the United States from foreign countries, since Dec. 15, 1915, when an executive order was issued requiring all who traveled abroad to possess one. Prior to that, passports rarely were used for foreign travel or re-entry into the United States from a foreign country. There are only a few exceptions to this rule:

  • Closed Loop Cruises. Cruises that begin and end at the same United States port, known as closed-loop cruises, do not require a passport. A certified birth certificate and valid photo identification, such as a driver's license, are all that is necessary.
  • Nexus Cardholders. A Nexus Card is issued jointly between the United States and Canadian governments and is designed for those travelers who frequently commute between the two countries. It is awarded to low-risk travelers following a rigorous application process and can be used in place of a passport to travel between the two companies.
  • Land or Sea Travel. Traveling by land or sea to Canada or Mexico does not require a passport. However, you still will need more than a traditional driver's license or birth certificate to enter these countries and then re-enter the United States. A Nexus Card, which we previously discussed, can be used for this kind of travel. Land or sea travelers to these countries also can use an enhanced driver's license if they are available through their states. Currently, only the states of New York, Michigan, Vermont and Washington offer enhanced driver's licenses.

Even if yours is a situation which does not require a passport for travel, it is highly recommended that all travelers possess one. During emergency situations, air travel which was not previously planned may become necessary, which would require a passport. For that reason, travelers should weigh the benefits and risks of not having a passport before they leave the country.

Artists putting their stamps on Polk Street's "˜Passports'

San Francisco artist Lynn Kirby has been going to the Russian Hill Bookstore since it opened 24 years ago. So when she was invited by the San Francisco Arts Commission to design a unique ink stamp for any business on Polk Street, she requested the bookstore.

Published:  Wed, 18 Oct 2017 13:16:00 GMT



Passports for purchase: Open citizenship doors around the world

(CNN) - Turns out money doesn't just buy a glamorous vacation in the Caribbean or a killer suite in Quebec -- it can buy residency too. While British citizens are rushing to claim Irish passports post-Brexit vote, the world's most elite travelers don't ...

Published:  Mon, 16 Oct 2017 04:03:00 GMT



Venezuela extends expired passports for two years amid paper and ink shortages

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro signed an emergency decree earlier this week extending expired passports for two more years amid a widespread shortage of paper and ink at the government agency that issues the travel documents. Demand for new passports ...

Published:  Tue, 17 Oct 2017 12:58:00 GMT



Kane County Clerk encourages holiday travelers to apply now for passports

Falling leaves and temperatures are a reminder that the holiday season is coming. The period between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day is one of the busiest times of the year for travel, and Kane County Clerk John A. Cunningham recommends that Kane County ...

Published:  Wed, 18 Oct 2017 19:29:00 GMT



ASU students receive free passports to study abroad

Albany State University school leaders are concerned about the number of students who study abroad. Right now, those numbers are extremely low, so school leaders are sponsoring 100 passports for students interested in studying abroad. It's a collaborative ...

Published:  Wed, 18 Oct 2017 20:32:00 GMT



Travelers from 9 states will need passports for domestic flights in 2018

The deadline is approaching for nine states that have yet to update state IDs in compliance with the REAL ID Act, which was passed in 2005. As a result, residents in those nine states will have to present a valid U.S. passport - instead of a driver's ...

Published:  Tue, 17 Oct 2017 08:12:00 GMT



9 States Will Require Passports for U.S. Flights

Come January 22, 2018, residents of nine states will need a passport to board any flight, domestic or international, according to new TSA guidelines. It's always refreshing when air travel becomes more complicated.

Published:  Tue, 17 Oct 2017 09:06:44 GMT



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