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Travel: Passports & Global Entry

 

Do you have your United States Passport? and Are You Using It Properly? We'll help you get one and make sure you're getting the most out of it in this blog post! 

A passport is an internationally recognized form of identification. A United States (US) passport will provide the basic identification needed to travel to other countries. Each country has its own entry requirements (from financial, medical to reason, like visas) but this is the first step! 

About 50% of US citizens have a passport but this has sky-rocketed from only 5% in 1990! It's amazing to see this increase in travel from (inside and outside) the US. 

First, Let's Get Your Passport

Because a US passport is issued by the federal government, the United States Post office will be a great resource in your submission. Here is the website to learn how to apply for your US Passport - This website will give you everything you need to know! US Passport Website

Here are some of the most important items to keep in mind, from my perspective: 
  • It's about $200 to get your passport book and passport card - You don't have to get a passport card, but I use my passport card as identification even in the US. I do this especially when I'm traveling but don't want to share my address or home state ex. at a bar. 
  • Passport application processing times can vary but I'd plan for at least 3 months of time for the whole process. Heavy application periods can take 6 months, especially if there are errors on your application.
  • Your application will include a form to complete, personal documentation, payment and a specific type of photo - because of these specifics I preferred to have the United States post office complete the application (and photo and form of payment needed!!) for me instead of compiling, checking and mailing everything in myself. 
    • Here's the US Postal Services Website for Passport Applications
    • The post office takes your photo for you AND if your passport photo isn't accepted they will re-take it for free! (this happened to me) 
    • You'll need an appointment for the post office to help you with your application. If your local post office is booked up, check surrounding area post offices for a sooner appointment. 
3 months later....

Now that you have your passport you can start your worldly travels! Each country will have different requirements for entry, even different requirements based on your home country. The United States has what is called a "strong passport" this means that many countries have low or minimal requirements when entering that country, if you are from the United States. 

Many citizens of developing countries must pay heavy visa fees, go through long visa wait times and pass even financial requirements to enter countries, where a US citizen wouldn't have those same requirements to enter. These entry requirements can change annually and will change based on international agreements and even politics. US Embassy (an embassy is a country's representative presence within another country, this is a building/office usually near the country's capital) websites are a great resource for changing entry requirements and rules. 

E-Passport
One of the perks of this "strong passport", or ease of entry, is E-passport checks! 
This process provides US passport holders a quicker entry process when entering other countries! 

Imagine, your plane from the US to Mexico has landed and you've gotten off the plane to see a sea of people waiting in line to enter Mexico and go through Customs (this is a country's check to allow you to enter). You look above to scan through the multiple entry lines and you see the logo below for E-passport. 


This is an electronic check and verification for you to enter the country, this line is often quicker and shorter! There will be a Customs officer, but you'll go through on your own with a quick face and passport scan! Note: you might not get a stamp going through this process. So if these are important to you, ask the Customs officer when you pass through for a passport stamp! 

Here's the E-passport website to learn more - E Passport Website - this has been a huge time saver for me when traveling! Traveling can be tiring, let's get to our hotel, give ourselves a chance to rest and get a nice coffee instead of standing in line for 3 hours... 

Global Entry (and TSA Pre Check)

Another travel identification essential is Global Entry! This is the perfect companion to your passport. This will give you a easier entry BACK INTO the United States after your travels. Because you have gone though an additional level of verification, you'll get a faster process when coming back into the US with US Customs. This line will often be quicker and shorter than the line for people without this identification. 

Here are my top things to keep in mind when you apply: 
  • This is another application and ~$100 application fee to get this AFTER you get your passport. Your travel credit card may reimburse you this fee as part of your travel benefits!
  • The Global Entry application is quicker BUT it may take time to get an interview appointment at the airport to complete your application. But once you do, it'll be a quick turn around. I got my Global Entry card a few weeks after my interview appointment at the airport. 
  • This process also includes TSA Pre Check, this verification gives you a quicker TSA (airport security) check process when flying domestically in the US. The TSA Pre Check Application is about the same price so it makes more sense to get the Global Entry which includes TSA Pre Check! 
Here is the website for Global Entry and how to apply! - Global Entry Website 

Knowing these passport items and processes will save you so much time on your travels! I hope my blog post has gotten you closer to getting your passport and helps you get the most out of it! I am so happy to share these essentials to make travel easier for you, because we all deserve to see the world. 

Thanks for reading and Happy Travels! - Lydia 

China Town - Mexico City, Mexico