Editor’s Note: Today’s blog is from our agent Melissa Kyler. To contact Melissa with questions or a quote, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I don’t know about you, but the first thing that goes through my mind when I start planning my next vacation is, “Am I going to need a passport?” This question comes up often especially when cruising, “Do I need a passport?”
I personally would say yes just get a passport. For US citizens, the correct answer is, it depends. If you are cruising from one port to another even if both ports are in the United States, then the answer is yes! If you are cruising a closed loop, departing and returning to the same port in the United States, then you do not need to have a passport. You are not required by the US government to have a passport. You will need to show a government issued ID along with proof of citizenship (certified copy of birth certificate). A word of caution, any of the ports that are not US Territories can ask for a passport to enter their country. Therefore, I would advise you to get a passport. A few more reasons why I would advise getting a passport would be, there are always what ifs. What if someone gets ill, either on the cruise with you or someone who stayed home and you need to fly home? What if there is a problem with the ship and they stop in a port that is not a US state or US Territory and the cruise line needs to get you an alternate way back to the port? If you do not have a passport it is going to be very difficult to get back home. If you have a passport and are over 16 years old the passport is valid for 10 years. Even if your child is under 16, the passport is still valid for 5 years. The small cost definitely outweighs the risk and you will always know the “what ifs” are covered.
The next question is, “How do I go about applying for a passport?” Applying for you passport is really easy. I advise applying for your passport at least 90 days before travel. To get started you can go to this web address http://travel.state.gov/passport/. Here you can fill out the passport application online and print it out, but do not sign it until told to do so. Since this is your first passport you must apply in person at a Passport Agency or Acceptance Facility. You can find these locations on the website. Once you arrive at the agency or Acceptance Facility, you will be asked to supply proof of your citizenship, a certified birth certificate and government issued photo identification. They will also take your passport photo if you did not bring one with you. The passport photos can be taken at your local post office or certain other locations that you will also find on the website. However, if not done correctly you will need to pay for an additional photo once you apply. Therefore, I suggest just getting the passport photo taken at the time of application. Then you will be asked to sign the application and pay the application and execution fee. They will send your birth certificate along with the paperwork. Once this is done, they will send you your passport in approximately 4-6 weeks and your birth certificate will follow soon after. Please note that there are certain requirements for minors that are under 16 years of age. Please find these restrictions on the website.
I hope that this helps you with the dilemma of whether or not to get a passport.