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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:

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.

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Passports In The News

Barbados switches to E-passports

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC) - Barbados today announced that it is phasing out machine-readable passports in favour of electronic passports, following a recommendation by the International Civil Aviatio...

Published:  Mon, 17 Sep 2018 15:09:00 GMT



WaPo Adds Huge Editor's Note to Story Blaming Trump for Denial of Passports to Hispanic U.S. Citizens

A bombshell Washington Post story alleging the Trump administration has increased scrutiny of passport applications from Hispanic citizens near the border is contradicted by official State ...

Published:  Mon, 17 Sep 2018 09:57:00 GMT



Miffed Italy to snub Austria over passports for Italians

Italy says that for now it's snubbing a proposed bilateral meeting in Vienna because of Austria's plan to offer citizenship to mostly German speakers in Italy's South Tyrol region. The Italian ...

Published:  Mon, 17 Sep 2018 11:25:00 GMT



Barbados phases out machine-readable passports for e-passports

Minister of Home Affairs, Edmund Hinkson and Chief Immigration Officer, Wayne Marshall, showing one of the new e-passports. (BARBADOS NATION) Anyone applying for Barbados passports for the first time, ...

Published:  Mon, 17 Sep 2018 20:42:00 GMT



Conte reaffirms Italy's opposition to dual passports for Alto Adige

Populist premier Giuseppe Conte on Tuesday told Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz that Italy remains opposed to granting dual citizenship to the autonomous Alto Adige region's German and Ladin speake...

Published:  Tue, 18 Sep 2018 04:50:00 GMT



Italy's stance clear on passports - Conte tells Kurz

(ANSA) - Rome, September 18 - Premier Giuseppe Conte said Tuesday that he reiterated Italy's opposition to Vienna's plan to give a double passport to Alto Adige's German and Ladin speakers during a me...

Published:  Tue, 18 Sep 2018 04:10:00 GMT




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