Before planning your next big trip – check your passport.
In 2007, the State Department received an unprecedented number of passport applications after the 9/11 Commission required passports for all travel to and from Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. These passports will expire in 2017, and as a result, the agency is anticipating an influx in passport renewals, which could ultimately cause delays in passport processing next year.
As a travel resource, AAA offers insight on the expected passport application delays and changes coming:
Renew now. With changes to passport regulations beginning this month and the anticipated surge in renewals, the State Department encourages travelers to renew their passports sooner rather than later. The renewal process takes about four to five weeks, however, many countries require passports to be valid for six months after your trip. This means that if you’re traveling to Belize in January 2017, but your passport expires before June 2017, you likely won’t be able to enter the country.
Required ID. The new Voluntary Travel ID (Arizona’s REAL ID compliant credential) is now available at Arizona MVDs. However, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation, the use of current Arizona credentials, like a driver’s license, will be accepted at airport security and restricted federal buildings through October 2020.
Security increase. Passports now include technology for additional protection against fraud. The security features include a data chip on e-Passports. An e-Passport refers to a passport book that is embedded with chip technology, issued from any country. Recent updates include a safer data chip that contains biographic and biometric data about you that is used to ensure you are the actual person entering the U.S. and making it harder to duplicate for fraudulent purposes.
- Don’t forget the kids. Child passports are only valid for five years, and they're subject to more paperwork, like parental consent forms and proof of a parent-child relationship, and both parents may have to be present when processing paperwork for the first time. Make sure your kids’ passports are up to date before the next trip.
You can renew a passport online through the State Department, or in person at an eligible local agency like the post office. First-time passport seekers must apply in person. AAA advises travelers to follow instructions carefully and meet all the requirements – including the new photo requirements.
While AAA does not process passport applications, the travel agency can assist with passport photos, a service that is free to AAA Plus and Premier members.
For additional passport help, or to fill out new or renewal paperwork, visit www.travel.state.gov.
As a travel resource, AAA offers a variety of travel tips and information. Learn more at highroads.az.aaa.com.