US Passport Rules and Regulations for Seattle Travelers

US Passport Rules and Regulations for Seattle Travelers

The passport process in and of itself can be complex on account of all the documentation and regulations you have to accomodate for (you can find our passport application guidelines here). Even after you’ve placed an application and received your passport, however, there are some rules and regulations to keep in mind as you make travel plans. The last thing you want is a delay just as you attempt to board your plane, so we have a list of travel tips and regulations to help keep your travel plans running smoothly.

Passport Expiration

Standard passports last for up to ten years, while minors under sixteen years of age have passports that last for up to five years. That may sound like plenty of time to allow for all your travel plans, but if your passport is less than a year from expiring, you may want to consider renewing it before travelling internationally. This is because many countries around the world have limitations on how close your passport can be to expiration, with most not allowing visitors who have less than six months left until their passport expires. Below is a list of popular destinations that don’t allow travellers with less than six months before expiration on their passport (please note that this is not a comprehensive list):

  • Egypt
  • Ecuador
  • Congo
  • Spain
  • Switzerland
  • France
  • Germany
  • China (Hong Kong allows for a one-month validity)
  • Tonga

As a general rule, European countries don’t allow visitors who have less than six months left on their passport. Other locations like Mexico and Canada have a softer policy that cuts travellers off at three months of validity left.

Other countries make use of one-month validity passport policies, while still others may allow a visit as long as the traveller’s passport is still valid upon entry. To avoid travel delays on account of your passport expiring soon, be sure to look up the international location to see if your passport will still be accepted. Passport expiration policies are enforced by their respective countries rather than the US, so the best way to avoid complications is to renew your passport before booking international travel.

If you obtain a visa for a longer visit abroad, you’ll still want to be sure your passport will be valid for the duration of your stay. In the case that it isn’t, you will still be able to apply for a passport from a US consulate or embassy while abroad. For passport applications abroad, however, you won’t be able to access expedited services, so keep this in mind when planning for a long trip.

Valid ID for Domestic Travel

Although domestic flights typically don’t require passports, changes made in 2018 altered the standard acceptable security requirements of driver’s licences and state-issued ID. At the time, this policy affected the residents of nine states and required that they use alternate, federally acceptable ID to board airplanes.

The REAL ID Act is set to make changes in the future of domestic flights, too. By October of 2020, passengers will be required to show REAL ID compliant identification. Since many states have only recently adopted these secure standards (and since civilians are largely unaware that more secure options exist for new driver’s licenses and state-issued ID), many delays are predicted to occur. You can avoid the issue completely by taking a passport as a form of REAL ID compliant identification on domestic flights.

Passport Renewal

If you need to get your passport renewed quickly to avoid travel delays, you can expedite the process for a fee (the price of the service depends on how quickly you want the processing to be done). Make the process of renewal as smooth as possible by following these simple steps:

  • Use the official online form filler to complete and print Form DS-82
  • Take new passport photos or have them done at our office
  • Ensure you have proof of international travel, such as plane ticket information
  • Bring your old passport to the agency with your documents and photo

This process is the fastest and simplest you can use to get an expedited passport renewal. Premium, same-day service is also available if you visit the office before the cut-off time of 10am. If you have a little more time before you need a renewal, you can also renew your expedited passport by mail (this typically takes between two to three weeks).

Lost and Damaged Passports

Passports can inevitably be stolen, damaged or lost regardless of whether you’re home or abroad. You’ll need to make sure you have the proper documentation on hand when applying for a replacement passport, as different circumstances may require different forms.

If your passport is damaged…

This can happen on account of natural disasters, accidents, and a variety of other unfortunate circumstances. If your passport has taken on water damage, has tears, has a damaged RFID chip, or is otherwise unreadable, you’ll need to get a new passport to travel. To do this, find your nearest acceptance facility or passport agency (we also accept applications for stolen, lost, and damaged passports) and bring the following materials:

  • Your damaged passport and a signed statement explaining the damage
  • Form DS-11, preferably filled out online with the official government form filler
  • Proof of citizenship, including a photocopy of the documentation
  • Proof of identity, including a photocopy of the identification used
  • A passport photo
  • Payment for your new passport

If your passport was lost…

Regardless of whether your passport was lost or stolen, you’ll need to fill out additional documentation to report the event when you apply for a new passport. Much like a damaged passport, you should locate the nearest acceptance facility or passport agency and bring the following materials:

  • Form DS-64, which you can find on the official government form filler
  • Form DS-11, also accessible through the government form filler
  • Proof of citizenship, including a photocopy of the documentation
  • Proof of identity, including a photocopy of the identification used
  • A passport photo
  • Payment for your new passport

Get your expedited passport today

If you have further questions about passport regulations, you can reach our office at (206) 408-2001 or view our online rates and renewal applications. Our fast, professional services make passport renewals and applications easy so you can get where you need to go.

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