Frequent flyers, road warriors, jet-setters, and globetrotters: you’re an elite group with special passport needs. More than anyone else, you need to make sure your passport is always ready to travel. Passportinfo.com has assembled our top tips for frequent travelers….and some that are great for not-so-frequent travelers, too!
Tip 1: Check for hidden reasons your passport might not be valid for travel
Making sure your passport is fully valid for travel means more than just checking to see that it hasn’t expired. Here are some hidden reasons that your passport might not be fully valid for travel:
- No Blank Visa Pages – You will need to have at least one blank page marked “Visas” for every country you will visit, and for some countries you may need two or more blank pages. The pages at the back of the passport book that are marked “Amendments” or “Endorsements” don’t count – they are for US State Department use only and are not supposed to be used for visas or entry/exit stamps. Frequent travelers should have pages added (or their passport renewed) when they get down to having only 4-6 blank pages.
- Not Enough Validity Left – Many countries enforce the “six month rule” and will not let you enter if you have less than six months validity left on your passport. You might want to consider setting an appointment reminder on your phone or email calendar to remind you to renew your passport when it is 7-8 months away from expiring.
- Poor Condition – If you’re in the air as much as you’re on the ground, your passport has probably taken a beating! Passports that are severely worn, torn, or water damaged may be considered “mutilated”, and you could be denied entry to your destination. You can help prevent this by keeping your passport inside a specially designed passport cover, or even inside a sturdy zip-top plastic bag.
Tip 2: Keep a copy of your passport and visas
We certainly hope that you never lose your passport or have it stolen, but in the unfortunate event that your passport goes missing while you are traveling, it’s invaluable to have a copy of your passport (and visas, if applicable). If you have to replace your passport overseas at a US Embassy or Consulate, the process will be faster and easier if you know the number and validity dates of the passport that was lost. Having easily accessible copies of your passport and visas will also make it easier to complete visa applications without having to drag your passport out of wherever you put it for safekeeping between trips.
Passportinfo.com recommends that you make scans or photocopies of your passport. Take one copy with you when you travel, and keep it in a different part of your luggage than your passport book. Leave another copy at home with someone you trust. You can also take photos of your passport and visas with your smartphone, or email your scans to yourself on a web-based account that you can access from anywhere in the world.
Tip 3: Supersize your passport
Did you know you can get an extra-large passport for the same government fee as a standard book? That’s right. When you renew your passport or get a new one, all you have to do is check the box that says “52 page book (non-standard)”on your DS-82 passport renewal application, and you’ll be issued one at no additional charge. (Pending availability.) If you have to have pages added to your passport, you can also request a large 48-page insert instead of the standard 24-page insert just by checking the box on your additional page application form.
Tip 4: Get a second passport
Not everyone knows that frequent travelers can get a second valid passport issued to them. With a second passport, you can apply for visas for future trips at the same time that you are traveling internationally. Second passports are fully valid for travel to any nation, but they are issued for a limited two-year duration. Luckily for the busiest travelers, they can also be renewed!