5 Reasons Why You Should Renew Your Passport Early (and Check The Expiration Date)
1. Most countries require 6 months validity for your passport
What does that even mean? Well, most of us know we need a passport to travel internationally, but few know your passport needs to be valid for longer than your stay. In fact, many countries require it be valid for six months beyond your expected return date (yes, you read that right!) If it’s not, you won’t make it past airport check-in in most cases. Why the 6-month rule? Basically, countries don’t want to risk having visitors overstay their passport’s validity, be unable to travel and then become their responsibility. Fortunately, the U.S. Department of State has made a really helpful map resource for you to quickly check! Simply click on the country you’re traveling to and see what the requirements are.
2. Passport offices get backed up at the beginning of the year
A new year is approaching, so naturally you're making new travel plans and resolutions. That means you're committed to taking care of life stuff, like passport renewals and other government services. We’re all for everyone taking care of business at the beginning of the year, but exactly: everyone is taking care of business at the beginning of the year. So passport offices get backed up with applications and renewals. Data from the U.S. Department of State shows this trend with hundreds of thousands more passport renewals from January to March, compared to October thru December. Beat the crowds -- now is the perfect time to renew.
3. You can use a passport when getting your Real ID
As you likely already know, you’ll need a Real ID in hand by 2020 for most states. (Here's what you need to know about the Real ID). When applying, you’ll need a document that proves your identity. Instead of digging around for your birth certificate (who knows where that is?), you can use your passport instead, but it has to be valid!
4. You don’t have to stress out over the holidays when you’re with family and friends
Because who needs more stress? We’ll bet you likely have enough other things to worry about: should you drive or fly to Grandma’s house, will there be a snowstorm, how will your 5 cousins fit in your 4-passenger Toyota and how are you possibly going to handle Aunt Suzy’s non-stop questions and rambles on politics. Enjoy that hot chocolate she makes and find your zen knowing you at least have your passport taken care of.
5. If you forget to renew, you could end up paying several hundred dollars to expedite your renewal
Passports are valid for 10 years. A helpfully long time, but also long enough to easily forget your renewal date, especially if you don’t travel abroad that often (and it sits in your desk drawer for most of that time). It sneaks up on you. A standard turnaround time for a passport renewal by the U.S. Department of State is 6-8 weeks and requires you to fill out a DS-82 form, take updated photos (if needed), print all of these documents, head to the post office and drop them in the mail. The cost is $110 + any fees. So, you’ll want to plan ahead. If you’d rather avoid all that time printing and running around, you can pay a small fee and have a YoGov Passport Concierge do it for you. We also know things happen, we forget, life happens, so we’ve got you covered for last-minute passport needs too.