10 Passport and Visa Tips For Hassle-Free International Travel
By Fatemeh LeTellier, Chief Marketing Officer of Travel Document Systems and co-founder of Pinnacle Travel Documents
- Make sure you have at least six months validity on your US passport! Most countries require six months validity because they don’t want any traveler to get stranded in their country and be burdened with their expenses. Further, most airlines require the six-month passport validity.
- If you travel a great deal, consider obtaining a second US passport valid for four years. This will allow you to obtain visas on one passport while you travel on another. A second passport gives provides flexibility for the frequent traveler.
- Make sure you understand which countries require a visa for US citizens to enter. This way you are not barred from boarding your flight and missing your vacation or business trip.
- Make sure your name on your passport matches your name on your airline ticket/itinerary. With heightened security measures at US airports and abroad you could be denied boarding. If the name on your passport must be corrected, then you must renew your US passport as the US passport agency no longer amends names on US passports because of the new electronic chip passports.
- There seems to be confusion regarding the Passport Card. The Passport Card can only be used at border crossings when driving between the US to/from Mexico and Canada. You cannot use the passport card for flying! The Passport Card can be issued when the Passport is renewed for an additional government fee of $50.00. It is best to do both at the same time needed to save money and time.
- Many countries have gone to electronic visas which means the visas are e-mailed to the traveler. These visas are different than the traditional visas that are stamped in the actual passports. E-visas can have a shorter validity and at times only valid for tourist travel and not for business travel. It is imperative that the traveler check to see that they apply for the correct type of visa based on their trip. What we do at Pinnacle is assist the traveler in selecting the correct visa type for their specific travel needs. Some countries that issue electronic visas are India, Tanzania, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka and Oman.
- Children under 16 years of age are issued passports that are only valid for five years. The reason being that children’s features change so the picture needs to be changed every five years. Once they become 16 the passport is issued for 10 years. Both parents must be present to get the child’s documents sealed and if one parent is not available then the absentee parent must provide the accompanying parent with a notarized consent letter to apply for their child’s passport. The Passport Agency is very strict because of child abductions cases so they want to make sure both parents have given permission for a child to be issued a passport.
- It is imperative that the signature on passport and visa applications match the exact signature on the US passport! If the signature doesn’t match the application could be rejected which could delay the issuance of the US Passport or visa for international travel.
- The Passport Office and countries that issue visas require the photographs submitted for processing to follow specific guidelines. The Chinese do not want the applicant to wear any glasses, jewelry or smile in the photo. The US passport office doesn’t want glasses or smiling in photos. Further, The Indians don’t want any glasses on the photo. There are specific photo requirements that must be fold for smooth passport and Visa processing!
- Make sure you don’t apply too early for a Visa! If you apply too early, then your Visa will not be valid for entry which could cause you to be denied entry to that country. For example, The Kenya E-visa is valid for 90 days from date of issue. The Visa for Laos is valid 60 days from date of issue and the visa for Rwanda is valid 30 days from date of issue. We advise all our clients about visa validity requirements for business and tourist travel.
Pinnacle Travel Document Systems, one of the largest passport and visa service companies in the world, prides itself on providing exceptional customer service by taking the guess work out of travel documentation. Their experienced staff will streamline and simplify the process for any travel document, passport and Visas. Services include speedy, even 24 hour, passport renewal and second passport issuance, applications for minors, and passport cards, as well as precise visa application assistance to ensure the correct documentation is delivered accurately and in a timely fashion.