When you travel, passport safety is a major concern. While it’s true that a lost passport can be both scary and incredibly inconvenient, a damaged passport can cause just as many issues when traveling. Did you know that you don’t own your passport? Your passport is U.S government property, and a passport with significant damage is deemed no longer valid for travel or as proof of your identity and citizenship.
If your passport is damaged, many countries will refuse you entry. And, that isn’t something you want to discover at point of entry! It’s smart to take precautions ahead of time to keep your passport safe from damage. Otherwise, your alternative is an emergency run to the passport office when all you want to do is jet-set to your next dream vacation.
How Do I Know If My Passport is Too Damaged to Travel?
Your passport is allowed a certain amount of wear and tear from basic handling and consistent use. If the edges of your passport are slightly dog-eared or worn down, that is no need for concern. Government agencies take into account that your passport is being pulled in and out of pockets, holders, wallets, etc. However, some countries’ rules are more stringent than others, and the final decision about whether your passport is too damaged to allow entry will be made at the discretion of an immigration official at the border. Some airlines may also refuse to allow you to board if your passport is in bad shape! It’s better to be safe than sorry, so keep an eye on your passport’s condition.
If your book cover is damaged, or the page that displays personal data impedes your identification, and/or cannot be swiped by the authorities, you will need to replace your passport.
Examples of significant damage to passports include:
- Water damage, or mildew from exposure to humidity
- Chewed on by animal or child
- Pages torn out
- Frayed edges or binding coming loose
- Contains unauthorized markings
- A tear on one or more pages
- Pages coming loose
- Torn or loose cover
If you need to replace a damaged passport, follow this link for specific requirements and the necessary damaged passport application forms.
How Do I Keep My Passport from Being Damaged?
Keep your passport safe from damage with a quality passport holder, or wallet, rather than keeping it in pants, luggage or purse pockets where it can get rustled around, and smashed against other travel items. If you keep it in one specific location, there is a better chance for you to keep it protected and safe.
A waterproof passport holder is a good idea if you plan to take a cruise, hang out on the beach, or go on any other vacation that involves water. A water-tight case allows you to keep your passport on you at all times, even when swimming!
Most suitcases, purses and backpacks are not waterproof, and getting stuck in an unexpected downpour is a common fate for many travelers. If nothing else, a passport safely tucked inside a waterproof case will give you peace of mind.
Your passport is your ticket to travel. Keep it good condition, and enjoy stress-free travel.