Robert H. Page, MD and Curtis P. Page, MD are authors of the MEXICO: Health and Safety Travel Guide and the Healthy Traveler Regional Series. For more information visit medtogo.com
As of December 31, 2006, all air and sea travelers to Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, South America and all Caribbean bases started requiring a passport. And on January 1, 2008, everyone needs to show passports for all land crossings to Canada and Mexico. As of 2008, U.S. travelers are not be able to go outside their borders without a passport.
How to Renew Your Passport
Under normal circumstances, obtaining a passport can take up to six weeks. You may mail your old passport, assuming it is not damaged or has already expired, to the National Passport Center, Box 371971, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7971. Send two passport photos and $67.00 by check or money order to obtain your passport. You may obtain application forms from local post offices, or you may download a renewal application form from the government website (travel.state.gov). If your passport has been stolen, lost or damaged, you must appear in person at your local travel authority (post office, superior court, etc). An original or certified copy of your birth certificate and/or Social Security card will establish your citizenship. If you were born outside of the U.S. and you are an American citizen, be sure to check the State Department’s website (travel.state.gov) for details on how to identify yourself as a U.S. citizen.
Every child must have his or her personal passport for international travel. The State Department requires that children appear in person when applying for a passport and that consent of both parents is documented. If one person is unable to appear, written permission from the absent parent is required. If there has been a divorce, death or adoption, the circumstances must be perfectly documented and proof must be brought to the passport office. For children under 16 years, the passport is valid for 5 years.
How to Get a Passport Quickly
If you require a passport within six weeks, the State Department offers an expedited service. This service takes two weeks and requires a fee of $US60 in addition to the regular application fee. For extremely quick passport service, some independent companies specialize in obtaining passports in an emergency situation. Three companies: Passport and Visa Exchange, Passport Express and Passportandvisas.com are listed at the National Association of Passport and Visa Services. These private services can deliver passports within 3 days. Fees vary depending on the company that you use.
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Interested in coming to the US? Getting a visa is not easy, especially if you are based in some parts of Europe, but there are good options to get a ESTA USA online.