So, you’re going on a international tour! But you need a new passport… Whether it’s your first passport, or you’re simply renewing, here are some tips for making the process as easy as possible.
Check your current passport and make sure it’s not expiring during your tour. If you know it’s time to renew, or this is your first passport, make sure you apply for your passport at least 6 weeks before you leave for tour, even if the first dates of your tour are in the states, you need to be at home to receive your passport once it is mailed to you. If you wait until your tour is two, three, or even four weeks away, you will need to pay an extra $60 on top of the $110 passport fee to expedite the process.
Check if you need any visas.
A passport won’t be enough to get you into some countries, so check well in advance if you need a visa for each country. If you do need a visa, you’ll likely need to have your passport already when you apply, and some visa applications can take a long time, so you should start the process as soon as possible.
Fill out the paperwork online.
Travel.state.gov is the website you’ll need to use for all things passport. There, you can follow the guidelines for your particular situation and they’ll let you fill out your paperwork using an online form. Then, you can print out the finished documents.
READ THE PAPERWORK.
Even though you’ve checked out the website and completed the paperwork, make sure you read your documents thoroughly. In some cases you may need to send document copies to a particular office or agency, and signatures may be required on specific files or pages.
Use the fee calculator.
Also on Travel.state.gov, there is a fee calculator. You can answer a few basic questions, and the site will outline the application, processing and/or acceptance fees that apply to your situation, where to submit payment, plus any additional details that apply.
Get the BEST and CHEAPEST photo.
This is the ultimate hack, which I learned recently when it was time to renew my passport. If you go to a CVS or a FedEx and have your passport photo taken, you’ll probably end up with a pretty unflattering photo of yourself, pay between $10 and $18 for it, and you’ll be stuck with it for the next ten years. When I was renewing my passport recently, I payed the 18 bucks to FedEx and ended up with a pretty awful photo. I ultimately decided that I couldn’t live with the resulting photo for a decade. I went through a lot of missteps to figure out how to get a photo I liked and print it according to the requirements, but ultimately I got a great photo for less than $0.50. To find out how, see Part 2 of Passport Tips for International Tours!
Guest Post by Allie Mazon