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Check Your Passport !


tassojunior
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Many of us were lulled by the lockdown into thinking we had plenty of time anyway. Today I was finalizing a get-out-of-lockdown trip to Europe when United splashed some nasty red exclamation marks on my passport page. 

My passport expires in late January and many countries require that your US passport be valid for 6 months after you commence travel. Fortunately most European countries have a sort-of 3-month rule....maybe. (Evidently the UK has no rule; it just must be good for the proposed trip dates.) Spain's at US.gov but evidently Czech tries to enforce 6 months and Nederlands requires 6 months?  

PASSPORT VALIDITY:A passport must be valid for at least six months beyond planned date of departure from the Schengen area.  (Even though the US has a treaty with the Schengen zone for a 3-month validity?)
 
So...If you have less than 6 months left on your passport it can get complicated even if an airline will ticket you.

Also Spain has an app you must use to get a vaccinated code. 

Expedited renewal passports with the extra fee usually take 4 weeks. Currently they are taking 10 weeksAnd you have to surrender your passport while you wait the 10 weeks. And don't forget you must still have a negative test within 72 hours of flying to get back in the US. 

 

On good news although I heard some countries are wanting insurance proof now, i found Kaiser and many Medicare Advantage programs include foreign coverage and have that online. Also AARP has low rates.

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Thanks for the reminder.  My passport expired last year and with the unknown processing times with the government having everyone working from home, I was not excited about the possibility of just surrendering my passport for an undetermined number of months.  

I need to add it to my list of things to do...  I just actually extended my TSA Precheck another five years during lunch today.  

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1 hour ago, tassojunior said:

Many of us were lulled by the lockdown into thinking we had plenty of time anyway. Today I was finalizing a get-out-of-lockdown trip to Europe when United splashed some nasty red exclamation marks on my passport page. 

My passport expires in late January and many countries require that your US passport be valid for 6 months after you commence travel. Fortunately most European countries have a sort-of 3-month rule. (Evidently the UK has no rule; it just must be good for the proposed trip dates.)

Expedited renewal passports with the extra fee usually take 4 weeks. Currently they are taking 10 weeks. And you have to surrender your passport while you wait. 

 

On good news although I heard some countries are wanting insurance proof now, i found Kaiser and many Medicare Advantage programs include foreign coverage and have that online. Also AARP has low rates.

I applied for my passport renewal last month on an expedited basis last month so it should be in by the end of July. Plenty of time.

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3 minutes ago, Benjamin_Nicholas said:

Or, you live near an authority, you can usually make an appointment for same-day(ish) renewals.

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/get-fast/passport-agencies.html

Or, if you're willing to pay, you can hire a third-party expeditor to do it for you and Fedex it overnight.

I'm going to try the same-day by appointment in DC, I've done it before where I could show a travel ticket date. But from what I've read online because of the applicant surge from the lockdown and not all agents working, they may be limiting that to emergency family situations. I may go the pro route.

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Just now, tassojunior said:

I'm going to try the same-day by appointment in DC, I've done it before where I could show a travel ticket date. But from what I've read online because of the applicant surge from the lockdown and not all agents working, they may be limiting that to emergency family situations. I may go the pro route.

I've thought about that too.  It's what kept me from just breaking down and doing it and just waiting.  I don't have any out of the country travel booked, but I keep my passport with me as a backup in case I ever lose my wallet while traveling.  

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1 minute ago, tassojunior said:

I'm going to try the same-day by appointment in DC, I've done it before where I could show a travel ticket date. But from what I've read online because of the applicant surge from the lockdown and not all agents working, they may be limiting that to emergency family situations. I may go the pro route.

I've found that walking in wearing something skimpy, like a sensible gold thong, helps speed up the process.

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21 minutes ago, RadioRob said:

I've thought about that too.  It's what kept me from just breaking down and doing it and just waiting.  I don't have any out of the country travel booked, but I keep my passport with me as a backup in case I ever lose my wallet while traveling.  

I had searched and found a few good Business class flights on United cheap on points. They're wide open for 60K mile Polaris biz seats to Brussels with $5.60 fees. Then I went to confirm and got red exclamation marks about my passport being within 6 months of expiration before my return date. 

My Bel Ami guys will all be headed over soon as the US opens so I have to get my "early" Europe trip in now. Once they get here my hands are full entertaining. 

 

guystravel.webp

Edited by tassojunior
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  • 2 weeks later...

This is the second year in a row that we will not travel outside the USA. I am hoping to end that unusual (for me) record in 2022, because my spouse's passport expires in 2023, and he wants to make his final trip abroad before then, so he doesn't have to apply for another passport. My current passport expires in 2025, by which time I hope COVID will finally be under control and the process will be back to normal.

Edited by Charlie
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I sent my passport in for renewal via an expediter a week before all hell broke loose with COVID….

My passport promptly got lost in the hell that is the US government during COVID. 
"Your passport is lost, you’ll need to apply for a new one…but because you’re passport isn’t lost, you can’t apply for a new one". 
Multiple government employees actually said that to me….with a straight face…..for over a year.
In the end, it took me over 18 months to get a new passport. 
Even then I had to beg, cry, plead, buy a one way ticket to Bermuda, drive to Connecticut, and spend the entire day there. 
After 4 hours in the passport office the woman behind the counter could tell I was starting to loose it. 
She said, "don’t worry, l’m not going home tonight until you leave here with a new passport in your hand". 
Her kindness and reassurance helped me persevere in the face of seemed like insurmountable bureaucratic insanity.
4 hours later when she handed me my passport, she said, "I’m so sorry this happened to you", and we hugged.

So yeah, get your passport renewed early. It might take a while. 

Edited by nycman
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11 hours ago, Oscar Not Wilde said:

It took the Agency 4 weeks after they received my check for the passport renewal fee to cash it. I will keep you posted on when I get the new passport. 

Meaning the envelope was not opened for 4 weeks as checks are immediately deposited. I had a small amount paper tax return lost at IRS this past year because after i sent a replacement that was cashed in 3 days, the original check from 14 months ago was also cashed meaning they found the return laying somewhere at USPS or IRS according to a human i spoke with. He said USPS and IRS service centers were full of piles of paper returns. (I wish i had shifted to online returns before the pandemic but it was impossible after as i had to have my lost return info to qualify).

I also went through over a year getting a Real-ID DC driver's license as a renewal because Social Security had my first and middle names transposed. In the process of dealing with many Congress rep workers and SSA workers i realized they were all at home from voices in the background. I wouldn't describe any as "work" or "help". It was a fluke i got my renewal finally. 

Some Congresscritters are asking for the Passport Office to get additional workers to clear the backlog but unfortunately that backlog exists in almost every agency. The media is barely conscious of anything not a narrative or a meme. The fact is most government is backlogged a year. I don't see why a "stimulus" can't be used to clear the backlog, as federal jobs, even temporary, are usually easy to fill in areas service centers are located in. And maybe pay federal workers overtime to clear up the mess the shutdown cost. 

 

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The couple of accounts above are astonishing. A caveat, I haven't applied for a passport in the age of Covid, but as mine was stolen last year, I called to cancel it [irrevocably as it turns out] and it was recovered within 24 hours, I'll have to renew it soon. When I renewed it a few years ago I filled in the renewal form on-line, took the form and my passport to the post office where I submitted the application (the post office took the photo I used for the new passport). They cut the corners off my old passport, effectively cancelling it, but gave it back to me. I paid the new passport fee by credit card at the post office, and they sent it off. My new passport was delivered by registered mail two or three weeks later, and that was the standard processing, not the express rate. Governments can do things efficiently if they want to.

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On 6/30/2021 at 11:47 PM, tassojunior said:

I'm going to try the same-day by appointment in DC, I've done it before where I could show a travel ticket date. But from what I've read online because of the applicant surge from the lockdown and not all agents working, they may be limiting that to emergency family situations. I may go the pro route.

You can always call and ask. In NY, it's hard to get short-notice appointments. But you can also show up before a certain time (7 a.m. if I remember correctly) with a ticket leaving within X days (I seem to recall it's 3) and get in a special line. They process a certain number of applications from people in that line and give them their passports that same day if leaving the next day, otherwise the following day.

I had to do that a few years ago. I was there around 5 a.m. and was #3 line. By 7 a.m., the end of the line was in New Jersey.

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4 hours ago, thedanNYC said:

You can always call and ask. In NY, it's hard to get short-notice appointments. But you can also show up before a certain time (7 a.m. if I remember correctly) with a ticket leaving within X days (I seem to recall it's 3) and get in a special line. They process a certain number of applications from people in that line and give them their passports that same day if leaving the next day, otherwise the following day.

I had to do that a few years ago. I was there around 5 a.m. and was #3 line. By 7 a.m., the end of the line was in New Jersey.

They still have that departure within 3-days exception to get an appointment but unfortunately the situation is so bad now that when you choose that option they show you another screen that says this is only now for life-and-death emergencies and you must have proof of the life-or-death emergency as well as a ticket within 3 days. They wouldn't accept needing European sex as life-or-death. 😕

 

No office has Urgent Travel (Non-Emergency) appointments available now. 

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