A few weeks ago I was interviewed by a national newspaper regarding the topic of passports, and how much longer it has been taking people to obtain their passports. I figured this would be helpful information to share with you through my blog Zooming with Joel.
First of all yes, it is taking longer than usual for people to obtain their passports. In some cases up to 6 months. Some things you can do to expedite the process, are: make sure everything is correct on your application form, and follow the instructions for the passport photos precisely. Especially where the passport office is short staffed, not having the correct information or photo sizing could lead you have your application returned and to start the process all over again. To avoid this you might want to use a service to assist you in the passport renewal service. Alternatively, you can take the documents to the US Post Office and they will make sure the application is sent our correctly because they actually start the application process by reviewing your documents.
The correct size of a passport photo, by the way, is: 2 x 2 inches (51 x 51 mm). Your head must be between 1 -1 3/8 inches (25 – 35 mm) from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head.
Some other important things to keep in mind are that for most destinations, your passport needs to have at least six months left before arrival into that country.
For many countries your passport also needs at least two blank pages for stamping. If you’re on a trip where you are visiting multiple destinations, you will need more than two blank pages for each. Also keep in mind that passport pages titled “Endorsement Pages” are not visa pages and can’t be used as such even if they are blank.
Countries can deny you access if your passport does not comply with either of these things.
In addition to Passport procedures, this is a good time to talk about visas. Some countries require visas, based on the country where you are a national. For instance, if you were going to Egypt as a US citizen, you will need a visa for entry, and this can be applied for online. Some visas are easier to obtain than others, and different countries like India, Russia, and Vietnam charge various amounts for their visas from $25-$200 depending on where you are going. Some are easy online applications that take a few minutes, and for others you may need to visit a local consulate. Some visas you can obtain upon arrival into a country like Morocco, Egypt, Maldives, and Peru. For others, like Russia, Vietnam and India, you will need to obtain them in advance, and your airline will require to see your visa or you will not be allowed on the plane.
This is also the case for Covid-19, where there are additional guidelines for traveling during the pandemic, or you will not be allowed on the plane. In addition to Passports and visas, you may also be required to show proof of a vaccine, and/or a negative coronavirus test obtained within 72 hours of your departure. Many countries like the Maldives require that you complete a health declaration that produces a QR code you must show on arrival. All of this will depend on where you are going and where you’re coming from. And of course, if you are a US citizen, you will need proof of a negative PCR Covid-19 test, administered with 72 hours of your flight, in order to gain re-enty into the USA. Most hotels can assist you with obtaining this test and the process is very simple and takes very little time.
Many of us have not been able to travel for a long time. Travel restrictions are easing up for travel to places like Rio. So, it makes sense more than ever to be ready with a valid passport in order to confirm travel plans when the time is right for you.