If you want to travel internationally, one thing you need is a valid passport. While everyone knows this, it’s very easy to let your passport expire (or forget about the 6-month validity rule). Many prospective trips have been ruined when the would-be travelers realized that they didn’t have time to renew their passports. Renewing your passport isn’t difficult, but it’s often a time-consuming process. That’s why you should not leave it until the last minute.
There are several good reasons to renew your passport now if it expires in 2016. Waiting until the last minute will not only cause you undue anxiety, it might actually prevent you from traveling. Renewals are probably the easiest of the passport processes from the Department of State. You can renew by mail if you have the passport in your possession, it’s in good condition and it hasn’t been more than 5 years from the expiration date – it will take you 4-6 weeks to get your passport renewed! In a hurry? Use a passport expediter to renew your passport. So why should you renew now? I already mentioned it takes 4-6 to renew your passport by mail but here’s a few other reasons as well:
Travel is Cheap Right Now
Travel bargains are everywhere. Due to favorable currency exchange rates for the dollar, it’s now quite reasonable for Americans to travel to many destinations, including Mexico, Australia and many parts of Europe. While this is good news, it also means more people will want to travel. Because many people will be renewing their passports to grab these travel bargains, the process could be slowed down in the Passport Agencies Processing centers.
Americans Will Soon Need More ID to Travel
Were already seeing lash back from states due to REAL ID and the potential changes in the law could soon increase the number of people renewing their passports so that they’re compliant. There have already been significant changes in recent years. Prior to 2007, for example, Americans did not need a passport for travel to Canada or Mexico. When this requirement went into effect, passport applications soared.
The Real ID Act will require people to carry more substantial ID within the United States starting in 2018. This won’t go into effect for more than a year and it doesn’t specifically require you to obtain a passport. However, more stringent ID requirements will surely lead more people to renew their passports.
Many Countries Restrict Your Travel
Another reason that you should renew your passport early is that many countries require you to have three to six months of valid travel in order to be allowed entry. Most European countries require three months, while Asian countries such as China and Malaysia require six months. For example, suppose your passport is valid until December 1, 2016, and you’re planning a European vacation in the fall. Even if you’re planning to be back home well before December, you still wouldn’t be able to visit most European countries past September 1 due to the three-month restriction.
Cost of an Expedited Passport
If you notice that your passport is going to expire soon and you’ve already made travel plans, you always have the option of applying for an expedited passport. This, however, will cost you extra money. An expedited passport costs an extra $60 for the Department of State’s 2-3 week turn-around time, which you must apply within 14 days of your travel date. Because of the reasons listed above, along with the additional fee, it’s not a good idea to count on being able to get an expedited passport renewal in time for your trip.
You can use a 3rd party expedited service, like Expedited Passports and Visas, to give you more assurance knowing that your documents are being personally hand carried into the passport agency and can be processed quicker than the 2-week time frame if needed.
The Best Time to Renew is Now
If your passport is expiring within a year, it’s best to renew it now rather than risk problems in the future. Passport applications are likely to increase over the next couple of years due to the spike in applications in 2007. You have nothing to lose by renewing a little early. Waiting until the last minute, on the other hand, could very well mean experiencing the disappointment and frustration of a cancelled trip.