Travel Identification Documents & Programs

Any person planning travel should be familiar with the required Identification Documents and how they work.  In this post, I have listed important information and links to provide you with necessary information to prepare for your next journey.  I have also included some details and links for Programs that can help speed you through the Security and Customs processes.

All information posted here was taken directly from the correct Administrating Government Agencies  or the Program websites and was true and current on the date of this publication.

Passports

Most American citizens or non-citizen nationals with plans to travel abroad need a passport. There are a few exceptions for special groups such as minors under age 16 traveling to Canada by land or sea.

Although you can use an Enhanced US Drivers License in liu of a passport on cruises to countries that border the US, it is reccommended by the travel industry that you still have a passport.  Any incident that would separate you from your ship during that trip would require you to have a passport to get back to the US.

Keep in mind these Processing Times when Planning your Travel

  1. Routine                                      4-6 Weeks
  2. Expedited                                  2-3 Weeks
  3. Expedited at Agency               8 Days

Passport Fee Schedule

Renewal

Most countries require your passport be valid for 3-6 months beyond your departure date.  Verify your current passport when making travel arrangements to ensure that it meets the guidelines of the country you will be visiting.

You can renew by mail using Form DS-82 if your most recent passport:

  • Is submitted with your application
  • Is undamaged (other than normal “wear and tear”)
  • Was issued when you were age 16 or older
  • Was issued within the last 15 years
  • Was issued in your current name (or you can document your name change with an original or certified copy of your marriage certificate, divorce decree, or court order)
  • If you’re not eligible to Renew by Mail, you must Apply in Person

 

TSA PreCheck

TSA Pre✓ provides expedited security screening benefits for flights departing from U.S. Airports.

TSA Pre✓ costs $85 for a 5 year period

Application Process

Global Entry

Global Entry provides the TSA Pre✓ benefit plus expedited US customs screening for international air travelers when entering the United States.

Global Entry costs $100 for a five year membership

Eligibility

U.S. Citizens and U.S. Lawful Permanent Residents along with select other nationalities are eligible to apply.

Application Process

  1. Apply

  2. Submit the initial application online.

  3. Interview

  4. Schedule & attend your in-person interview.

  5. Find an enrollment center near you.

  6. Membership

  7. Once accepted, your membership will last for 5 years.

Credit Cards & Loyalty Programs that Reimburse your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck Application Fee

Mobile Pass – App

A mobile Passport App that is officially authorized by the US Customs  and Border Protection Agency.  The App speeds you through US Customs when entering the USA from 24 Airports and 1 Cruise Port.

Airport List & Additional Details

Step 1:

Set up your Profile

Enter your profile information as it appears on your valid, official passport. You can set up profiles for your entire family. Your information will be encrypted and shared only with CBP.

Step 2:

Answer a few questions

Answer CBP’s five brief questions about your trip. Then carefully review ALL of your information for the trip.

Step 3:

Submit To CBP

Once you are at your port of entry (airport or sea port), connect to wireless or wi-fi and submit your data to CBP. Remember: when you submit, you are confirming under penalty of law that your information is correct. Within a few seconds, you will receive a CBP receipt with an encrypted barcode. Your receipt will be valid for 4 hours.

Step 4:

Breeze through customs & save time!

Follow the Mobile Passport Control signs to the designated Mobile Passport Control line. Show your passport to the CBP officer and scan the barcode on the CBP receipt. And that’s it!

 

Summary:

When planning your travel make sure you allow enough time for a Passport application to be processed or renewed if needed.  Take a moment to review your current passport to be sure that it meets the expiration guidelines for the countries you will visit.

The Global Entry is a better value for the money than the TSA PreCheck.  The cost difference is $15 which equates to $3/yr over the 5 year membership and the TSA PreCheck is included with the Global Entry for the same fee.  Aditionally it makes sense to check to see if your Travel Credit Card reimburses you for the application fee.

The Mobile Pass App is helpful if your home Airport is a listed site.  If not you may want to wait until it has been added to gain any benefit from signing up for this program.  If your airport is not listed, check the site a few weeks before your next trip to see if it has been added.

Hope you have Safe, Happy and Informed Travels!