November 17, 2010

How NOT to handle your passport renewals

Do you know when your passport expires?

I am a travel professional, have been for years. So one might think I would be on top of things like passport renewals. Think again.

I took my kids on their first passport-required adventure about 4.5 years ago. I am exact in that calculation because my son Leo needs his passport to travel in April 2011. This means it needs to be valid up until October 2011. Which it is not.

Minor children get a passport valid for 5 years. Adults, 10 years.

When passport control tells you a minor’s passport is valid for 5 years they are not quite telling the truth. Because it has to be valid for 6 months beyond the return date of the trip, it is really only good for 4.5 years. Or adults for 9.5 years.

What is the use of 6 months of passport when you can’t go anywhere?

Then we find out that a minor’s renewal is not a renewal. It’s a whole new application. This means digging up that original birth certificate again. AGAIN!

I admit I am categorically challenged. I cannot file things in a way to easily find them again years later. I have a big file drawer of folders. Is Birth Certificate under B? Or maybe under P for Passport application? Maybe it is I for Important papers…. or K for Kids? L for Leo? C for Certificates? L for Legal?

Tomorrow at school Leo needs to show he has submitted his passport application in order to qualify for the senior class trip to Eastern Europe in April. We did find the birth certificate (under B) so he has all the pieces of an un-submitted application. Hopefully that will be enough.

Don’t let this humiliation happen to you! Check your passports now.

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