Demand for future travel is increasing and will likely outpace supply, even as more options reopen. Travel advisors know that one of the most important preparations for future travel is ensuring you have the appropriate travel ID. No one wants to arrive at the airport for their long-awaited vacation, only to be denied boarding because of an identification issue!
Now is the time to make sure your identification documents are ready. The COVID-19 pandemic is causing delays in passport processing. Standard processing for new and renewal applications is currently reported to be 10-12 weeks, or 4-6 weeks if paying an additional $60 expedite fee.* Even travelers flying to U.S. destinations need to be ready for the new REAL ID requirements going into effect on October 1, 2021.
What should travelers know about getting their IDs ready to travel? I’ve highlighted a few key points.
Physical Inspection – Look carefully at your passport, plus the passports of everyone in your household. Is it free of water damage, significant tears, missing pages, or other deterioration? Any of these issues can make a passport invalid for travel.
Expiration Date – It’s surprising how quickly this can sneak up on you, especially for minors who receive only five years of passport validity. Some countries require a passport to have at least 3-6 months of remaining validity when travelers arrive, even if they only plan to stay for a short vacation. Therefore, it’s recommended to start the renewal process 9 months before a passport’s expiration date.
Accurate Information – Is the personal data on the passport accurate? Travel reservations need to match each person’s name exactly as it appears on the passport. If a correction or name change is needed, follow the directions on the US State Department website.
Blank Pages – Count how many blank visa pages remain in the passport booklet (Note: The last two endorsement pages don’t count). Immigration officials use these blank pages to add entry stamps or visas. Some countries require two to four blank pages available upon entry. If you’re almost out of space, it’s time to renew. Frequent travelers may want to request a larger, 52-page passport book.