The Countdown Begins: How to Keep Passport Delays from Affecting Your Travel Plans
Travel for 2022 is on everyone’s mind. At Life is Better Traveling we have seen an increase in inquiries for Spring Break 2022. If you are thinking of taking that Spring Break trip, we recommend checking your passport now. If it has expired, or will expire by September 2022, it must get renewed. But the delays!!
Here are some of the most recently asked questions we get so I thought I would share this valuable information with you.
How soon should I be planning ahead for travel?
If you need a passport, you should not be planning travel for closer in than 18 weeks. 24 weeks is the current waiting time for any passport activity, so we echo better err on the side of conservatism.
If you plan to travel before the summer of 2022, I strongly recommend that you get your passport applications submitted NOW. If you want the best deals and best flights available, you should be looking at six months to a year in advance. Last-minute travel has very limited availability, and you must be very flexible, especially if you are looking at traveling over Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
Why is passport processing delayed right now?
It all boils down to health being tantamount. The offices were closed during COVID and are still not operating at 100%. This led to a backlog in requests. Labor in every field has been impacted from the pandemic, and the Department of State is no exception. There’s only so much each person can do, which leads to a ripple effect of consequential delays.
Why is it important to have a valid passport?
Quite simply, because you can’t leave or enter the country without one. Especially as international travel tightens due to current circumstances, having buttoned-up credentials as to your identity and citizenship can only be an additional safety net. If you try to use an expired passport, you will be turned away at the airport. There are no exceptions.
Can you still book international travel without a passport?
While you can ‘book’ travel without a passport, it must be valid upon departure. The names and dates of birth must also match. So advisors can go ahead and close that sale, but should emphasize strongly that whether booked or not, you can’t travel without valid documentation.
Does travel insurance and Travel Protection Plus cover passport-related cancellations or if you are turned away due to an invalid passport?
The short answer is no.
How long should one’s passport be valid for?
Passports are automatically assigned or renewed for ten years at a time. However, bear in mind that for many destinations, your passport cannot expire outside of six months of your travel date. That means if you’re planning on traveling in December and your passport expires that same month, you may face issues returning home since it needs to be valid through June, which is six months after.
How do you submit a passport application?
The U.S. Department of State offers several options to apply for a passport, much of which can now be conveniently done from home. Your first step is to fill out the appropriate form, choosing from new applications, renewals, data corrections, or to replace a lost or stolen passport. Then you’ll need to gather your citizenship documents and get a passport photo taken and printed for submission. Be sure that it’s unfiltered, in color, not a selfie, against a white background, and that eyeglasses are removed, or it will not be accepted. You can view examples here.
What is the best path to getting a passport?
Life is Better Traveling recommends doing it all through your local post office and being prepared when you arrive. Go to www.travel.state.gov and print out the full application ahead of time so that it’s completed prior to your appointment. The post office can actually do the pictures and your application all at once and they will go through your paperwork to confirm that everything is filled out correctly. However, most post offices now require appointments, so be sure to plan ahead and make one!
What is the cost of a passport?
Passport fees vary, and expediting tacks on additional costs. A fee calculator and fee chart are available through the Department of State. First-timers who are 16 or older must pay an additional $35 on top of the $110 or $140 application fee that is standard. Passports for those under 16 cost less. And if you’re in a hurry, special services such as expediting may cost upwards of $60—another reason to get ahead of it.
Remember, Life is Better Traveling is always here to help you. We are a female owned, small business and every booking helps a local family. We thank you for your support and thinking of all of our agents during this time.