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What You Need to Know About the US Passport

What You Need to Know About the US Passport

The modern passport contains many characteristics that enhance the appearance and safety aspects for travel. These ensure that tourists can have a smooth passage into the country of destination.

Essentials: Every regular US passport contains a few standard features – a blue cover page with the Great Seal of America affixed on it, a personal data page and a page carrying the signature of the bearer and a message from the US Secretary of State requesting permission to enter a foreign country. The passport covers for diplomats and officials, however, differ from regular ones. Each passport contains a standard of 32 pages, or 52 pages for frequent flyers such as businessmen.

Visa access: Some countries, such as China and Australia, require visas for entry into the country. The time taken and cost for visa application varies from country to country. A vast majority of countries in the world, including most of Europe and Japan, do not require any prior visas to enter. For information as to whether to apply for a visa, do remember to check the Foreign Affairs website of the country you re about to visit, or simply enquire with your travel agent.

Safety: The new US passport now contains an electronic chip that stores all your bio-data and passport information. This is not only to ensure that no changes are made to the passport illegally, but also to allow for a faster checkout at the immigrations.

Passport card: An alternative to the passport booklet is the passport card, specifically for travel to countries in North American – Canada, Bermuda, Mexico and the Caribbean. It might be a good idea to apply for a card instead of a standard booklet if you are traveling to these countries, since it is not only more portable, but also cheaper.

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Validity: Both booklets and cards are valid for 10 years for an adult, or 5 years for a minor under 16 years of age.

Application: Applying for a passport can be done in person at any passport agency or acceptance facility. Current costs for an adult passport booklet are $100 and $85 for minors, or $45 for an adult passport card and $25 for minors. Passport renewals can be done through the internet and mail.

These are just some of the basics of a US passport, and would serve any traveler well when using or trying to obtain one.