Passports: Renewing a Passport, Applying for a New One, or Emergency Passports

If you are planning a trip outside the U.S., check your passport’s expiration date. Many countries will deny entry if your passport will be expiring within three to six months after your return date.

Be sure to allow at least six weeks (or more during busy travel times) for your renewal or a new application to be processed.

Passports are valid for 10 years. All passports (since 2007) are electronic passports (e-passports), which means they have a small “chip” embedded in the back cover to provide additional anti-fraud and security measures when scanned into the computer.

Passports are 28 pages, and 17 of those are blank for visa and country entry/exit stamps. If you are a frequent international traveler, you can request a larger passport (52 pages) at no additional cost when renewing or applying for one. You can no longer purchase stamp pages only – you have to replace your passport if you need additional blank pages.

For those of you embarking on a cruise, it is a good idea to have a passport – even if it is not required at the ports of entry. For example, if you were to miss boarding the ship and had to catch a flight to the next port, or if you have a medical emergency and need to be flown to the nearest country, you will need a passport. It is up to the passengers to make sure they follow the country’s entry/exit requirements…not the cruise ship.

Name on ID, Passport, and Airline Ticket Must Match:

If your name has changed since your last passport, you will need to renew it.

The name on your photo ID (driver’s license, etc.) must be exactly the same as the name on your passport and airline ticket. In other words, if your license has your middle name or initial, or if you have your maiden name and your married name on your ID—make sure your ticket and passport correspond. For example, if your name is John Michael Smith on your ID, but you go by Michael Smith, put your ticket and passport in John Michael Smith.

Country Entry, Exit, and Visa Requirements:

Check country specific information under Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements on the U.S. Department of State’s website. It provides information on passport validity (if a passport will be expiring in three to six months after your return date), blank passport pages required, visa requirements, and more.

If the country requires at least two to four blank visa/stamp pages in your passport, you will not be allowed to enter or even board the plane in the U.S. if you do not meet this requirement. When traveling to more than one country, be sure to have enough blank pages to accommodate each country.

As a general rule, you will need one blank visa/stamp page for each country you are traveling to; however, some countries require that you have two or more blank visa/stamp pages. It is important that you check on the entry requirements for each country you are traveling to. For example, to enter South Africa, you must have two consecutive blank visa/stamp pages in your passport.

If the country requires you to fill out an Immigration Form or other document when you arrive, be sure to keep it in a safe place (with your passport). You will be required to turn it in upon departure, or face being detained, fined, or having to get special permission to depart — and you will most likely miss your flight.

Required Documents for Renewing Your Passport:

You will need to present the following at a Passport Service or mail them to the National Passport Processing Center:

  • Form DS-82 (on the U.S. Department of State’s website) – be sure to sign and date it.
  • Your most recent U.S. Passport (book or card).
  • A new Passport Photo – staple it to the application within the designated space. using four vertical staples with one in each corner at the edge of the photo. Glasses must be removed for passport photos. The photo will not be accepted if you have your glasses on.
  • If your name has changed, include a certified copy of a marriage certificate, divorce decree, or court order.

Passport Fees:

  • Passport Book and Card:      $140 + $25 Execution Fee
  • Passport Book only:               $110 + $25 Execution Fee
  • Adult Passport Card:             $30 + Execution Fee

Need a Passport in Less than Two Weeks?

If you need a passport in less than 2 weeks, there are some options available. You can make an appointment with a Regional Passport Agency and provide the following:

  • Proof that you will be traveling abroad in two weeks or less.
  • Proof that your passport is needed within 4 weeks in order to obtain a foreign visa.

To schedule an appointment, call 24/7:  1-877-487-2778

Emergency Passports:

If your travel is because of a life or death emergency such as a serious illness, injury, or death in your immediate family, and you need to travel within 24 to 72 hours to foreign country, there are options available to assist you in this difficult time.

Contact the National Passport Information Center at:  1-877-487-2778 (TTY/TDD 1-888-874-7793). An automated system is available 24 hours a day, and the hours of service are 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., EST Monday through Friday (except Federal holidays) and Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

If an appointment is not available and you are calling during the hours of service, stay on the line to speak to a customer service representative for additional guidance.

For emergency assistance after hours call 1-202-647-4000 and explain your situation to the operator.

You will need to appear in person and documentation of the emergency may be requested.

Passport for a Child:

Children of all ages must have their own passport for international travel. It is valid for 5 years.

If you are a single parent or guardian traveling with a child, be sure to have the appropriate signed and notarized permission, death certificate, or court documents. If not, you could be denied entry into countries requiring this.

Parents (or guardians) will need to provide evidence of their relationship to the child and will need to present a photo ID and one of the following:

  • The child’s certified U.S. birth certificate with both parents’ names
  • A certified foreign birth certificate with both parents’ names
  • A Report of Birth Abroad with both parents’ names
  • Adoption Decree with adopting parents’ names
  • Court Order establishing custody
  • Court Order establishing guardianship

If the name of a parent/guardian has changed since the original documents were issued, you will need to provide evidence (i.e. photocopy of marriage certificate, etc.)

Passport Card vs. a Passport Book:

What is the difference between a Passport Card and a Passport Book?

  • A Passport Book provides the necessary identification for all international travel by land, sea, or air.
  • A Passport Card is used for entering the U.S. at land or sea ports from Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, or the Caribbean. It is less expensive and is a wallet size card. It is not valid for air travel to these countries or for any other international travel. Regulations change frequently, so confirm entry requirements in advance.

Dual Nationality:

A person who is a national of two countries at the same time is considered a dual nationality — they are required to follow the laws of both countries. In addition to a U.S. passport, a passport may be required for the foreign country as well. If these entry requirements are not followed, you may be denied entry or be subject to unexpected hardships

Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP):

Whenever you travel outside the U.S., inform the U.S. Department of State as to where and when you will be traveling. In the event of an emergency, disaster, or acts of terrorism, it will make it easier for them to provide assistance or contact you. You can enroll on the U.S. Department of State’s website.

 For more travel insight, check out my book,

Know Before You Go: Traveling the U.S. and Abroad

5 Star Editorial Review

Know Before You Go:  Traveling the U.S. and Abroad by [Patterson, Stephanie Tehan]

 Amazon Book Store

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and wherever books are sold



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