US Passport – Understanding The New Rules

Travel nowadays is not what it used to be. If you are a U.S. citizen the rules have changes and you must have a valid US Passport in order to re-enter the USA after traveling abroad to certain countries. Getting a United States passport is easy. You can obtain this official government document from the the United States Department of State. Your passporty not only certifies your identity but it also confirms your U.S. citizenship. This important travel document entitles you to travel globally as a US citizen and return to the United States. Because it is an official government document, your US passport is recognized internationally as a valid travel document.

Dual Citizenship Is Permitted

It is also possible for US citizens to hold dual citizenship, which means besides being a US citizen; the individual is also a citizen of another country. This does not prevent or cause problems when renewing the U.S. passport as the U.S. government permits individuals to hold dual citizenship.

It is the right of every U.S citizen to have a U.S. passport and it is obtainable from the U.S. Department of State. International travel is also a right that cannot be denied to any U.S. citizen. However you must have this travel document when applying for a visa to visit other countries. Furthermore, since January 23, 2007 each U.S. citizen is required to be in possession of valid travel documents to travel between the U.S. and Canada, Mexico, Central as well as South America, the Caribbean, Bermuda as well as other international destinations.

Be prepared. Obtainting a passport may not happen overnight. It may take some time and you should therefore apply well in advance of your expected travel dates. Currently, the new passport rules apply only to air travel, but d from January 1, 2008 each U.S. citizen will need to have a valid U.S. passport when crossing land borders, in addition to traveling by air and sea. This change from previous travel requirements will affect all U.S. citizens who enter the U.S. from abroad.

Applying for a U.S. passport is not difficult and requires filling out the application forms in accordance with the United States Passport Application and Renewal Guide instructions. In case of name change, a certified copy of a legal document should be furnished as also should photographs of the individual. There are several options for submitting your application. You can submit it in person or you can also mail your application to an officially recognized passport facility. Be sure to include proof of identity when you mail in your application.

Usually, your passport should arrive at your doorstep with 30 -42 days. You can severely reduce this timeframe by paying an expedite fee. With an expedited application, you should obtain your travel documents within ten to fourteen days. To avoid difficulties and frustration, we recommend that all procedures for applying for a new passport should be followed to the letter as laid down in the U.S. Passport Application and Renewal Guide. This is an important document. It explains who can apply, the specific requirements for application, the procedures that must be followed, the fees to be paid, the terms and conditions for renewal, what to do if your passport is lost or stolen, how to fill the application forms, where to apply, how to update your passport after a name change, and what to do in the case of urgent applications and renewals. A tremendous amount of information indeed.

Renewing your passport becomes necessary and is possible when it nears its expiry date, which may be fifteen years from the date it was issued. The passport should not be damaged, and the holder should have been at least sixteen years of age when it was issued and the name should be the same as when it was issued. If the passport is damaged in any way, or the holder was younger than 15 years when it was issued or has had a name change, then an application should me made for a new passport.

U.S. citizens residing abroad, except for those who are living in Canada, will need to go the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for renewal of their passports. For those living in Canada, a DS-82 Application for Passport by Mail renewal application to the address indicated on the form along with payment in US dollars should be enough. Individuals should ensure that their travel documents are not be mutilated or altered in any way. This could make them liable to prosecution as well as invalidate the document itself. In case it has been mutilated or altered, the individual must apply in person and not through mail.

When renewing your passport, make sure that the application form is correctly filled out, signed and dated, and have your current travel document attached. A sixty-seven dollar fee and expediting fee, should also be included if it is required urgently.

Above all, if the slow-turning wheels of bureaucracy threaten to dampen your travel plans, remember that these new passport rules are here to protect everyone from the unfortunate realities of today’s world. They are here to protect, not hurt you!

Learn more about how to apply for a U.S. Passport [], getting travel insurance, and much more at