Travel Abroad - Passports and Visas

If you are planning a trip outside the United States, I hope you will find the following resources helpful in preparing for your trip. If you have further questions, please don't hesitate to contact my office.

Before visiting a foreign country, you should ensure that all your travel concerns are addressed.

Passport rules have recently changed and you may need a passport for a trip that previously did not require one. Below is a summary of the new requirements, but check here for latest news from the State Department about the new passport rules.

  • Beginning January 23, 2007, ALL persons, including U.S. citizens, traveling by air between the United States and Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Bermuda will be required to present a valid passport, Air NEXUS card, or U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Mariner Document, or an Alien Registration Card, Form I-551, if applicable.

As a result of the new passport rules, Passport applications are taking much longer to process this year because of greatly increased demand.

  • The anticipated wait time for a new passport and passport renewal is at least 10-13 weeks but can take longer.
  • The wait time for expedited passport requests has been extended to 3-4 weeks, but also can take longer.

Please note, on June 8, 2007 the Department of State Announced the following revision to the new rules: U.S. citizens traveling to Canada, Mexico, Bermuda or countries in the Caribbean region who have applied for, but not yet received passports, can re-enter the United States by air by presentation of a government issued photo identification and Department of State official proof of application for a passport through September 30, 2007. The federal government is making this accommodation for air travel due to longer than expected processing times for passport applications in the face of record-breaking demand.

If you've already applied for your passport, check the status here.

If you're traveling within 2 weeks and still haven't received your passport, or you are having difficulty renewing or attaining a new passport and would like my office to assist you, please print out my Authorization Form and fax or mail it to my office.

*Note: If you seek assistance from one of your federal Representatives, whether it's from my office or one of our two U.S. Senators, its best to not involve an additional Congressional office because it may actually cause further delay.

Passports
A passport is an internationally recognized travel document that verifies the identity and nationality of the bearer. A valid U.S. passport is required to enter and leave most foreign countries. Only the U.S. Department of State has the authority to grant, issue, or verify U.S. passports.

First Time Tourist Passport
First time applicants must complete Form DS-11 and provide the following:
> Original / Certified Copy Birth Certificate, Expired Passport, Naturalization Certificate or Consular Report
> Driver's License, government ID or other picture ID
> Two identical 2x2 passport photos (proper attire, light backgroud, available at most photo shops)
> Check or Money order made payable to: Passport Services
$97.00 (Age 16 and over) or $157.00 expedited
$82.00 (Age 15 and under) or $142.00 expedited
First time or expired passport applicants (more than 15 years from its issue date) must apply in person before a Postal employee, Clerk of Court, or Passport Agent.

To replace a lost or stolen Tourist passport , follow the procedure for first time applicants including form DS-64.

Passport Renewal
To renew your passport you must complete Form DS-82, be able to provide your most recent passport, and meet the following requirements:
> Applicant was at least 16 years of age when passport was issued
> Passport is less than 15 years from issue date
> Applicant uses the same name as on most recent passport or can submit documentation to reflect name change
> Provide two identical 2x2 passport photos
> Check or Money Order made payable to: Passport Services
$67.00 or $127.00 expedited - Note: Renewal applicants do not have to appear in person.

Amending Passports
Effective September 26,2005, as an additional fraud prevention measure, Passport Services will no longer amend currently valid passports. Instead, customers will be issued replacement passports.
Forms and timelines:

  • DS-5504, U.S. Passport Re-Application Form is a new form to be used within one year of passport issuance for name-changes and any other descriptive information changes, as well as for the extension of validity for limited passports and correction of any printing errors. The DS-5504 must be submitted with the passport to be replaced, the documentation required for the change, and new photos. There is no charge for routine processing of these changes. After one year of the passport issuance date, Form DS-82, Application for Passport by Mail, or Form DS-11, U.S. Passport Application, as appropriate, must be submitted and all applicable fees paid.
  • DS-4085, Application for Additional Visa Pages is a new form only for adding more visa pages to valid passports. There is no charge for routine processing.
  • If Expedited Service is requested for any of the above, with the exception of an error by Passport Services, there is a charge (additional for DS-82s) of $60 per application . The additional purchase of two-way overnight delivery remains optional but is recommended if departure is imminent.
  • DS-19, Passport Amendment/Validation Form, previously used to amend passports, will no longer be valid.

Relevant Links
Department of State Passport Services
How to Get a Passport
How to Renew a Passport
Print Passport Application
Locate Nearest Local Passport Acceptance Agent
How to Get a Passport in a Hurry
How to Find Out About the Status of Your Application
Lost or Stolen Passport
Passport Frequently Asked Questions

Foreign Entry Requirements/Visas
Before traveling abroad, you will need to check with the country or countries you will be visiting to determine what, if any, entry requirements you must fulfill prior to your travel, such as a visa or immunization requirements.

Relevant Link
Foreign Entry Requirements
Foreign Consular Offices in the United States

Emergencies and Warnings

The State Department's Office of American Services and Crisis Management (ACS) administers the Consular Information program, which informs the public of conditions abroad that may affect their safety and security. Consular Information Sheets, Public Announcements, and Travel Warnings are vital parts of this program.

In addition, ACS supports the work of our overseas embassies and consulates in providing emergency services to Americans in cases of arrest, death, crime victimization, repatriation, medical evacuation, temporary financial assistance and welfare-and-whereabouts cases.

Relevant Links
Travel Warnings, Consular Information Sheets, and Public Announcements
Crisis Awareness and Preparedness
Emergency Services for U.S. Citizens
Get Help in a Foreign Country
Travel Registration
Crisis Abroad - What the State Department Does

Country Information
The U.S. Department of State and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) provide information about the background, geography, people, history, government, political conditions, economy, and other useful material for countries around the world.

Relevant Links
Country Background Notes
CIA World Fact Book
Regional Information

U.S. Embassies and Consulates
Many U.S. Diplomatic Missions abroad have information online.

Relevant Link
U.S. Embassies and Consulates Websites
Key Officers of Foreign Service Posts

Medical and Travelers' Health Information
Before going abroad, travelers should learn what medical services their health insurance will cover overseas. A U.S. consular officer can assist in locating appropriate medical services for an American citizen who becomes seriously ill or injured abroad, but the payment of hospital and other expenses is the responsibility of the traveler. The Bureau of Consular Affairs provides information on their website relevant to medical emergency information for Americans traveling abroad.

In addition, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) provides a resource page on health information for international travelers. The World Health Organization (WHO) also provides information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad.

Relevant Links
Consular Affairs Medical Information
Travelers' Health - Centers for Disease Control
Travelers' Health - WHO Infectious Disease Outbreak News

Other Travel Information
A to Z Help for Americans Abroad
Exchange Rates
Safety Issues
Road Safety Overseas
Travel Information Brochures
Tips for Traveling Abroad
Travel Tips for Older Americans
Travel Tips for Students
Travel Tips for Travelers with Disabilities
Authentication of Documents for Use Abroad
Overseas Security Advisory Council

U.S. Customs Inspection
All persons, including U.S. citizens returning to the United States , are inspected by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officers upon arrival at a port-of-entry to the United States . There are four separate inspections: Public Health, Immigration, Customs, and Agriculture. CPB Officers will conduct the Immigration, Customs, and Agriculture components of the inspections process. If a traveler has health concerns, he/she will be referred to a Public Health Officer for separate screening.

Relevant Links
Customs Information for Travelers Abroad
Know Before You Go/Regulations for U.S. Residents
Customs Travel Alerts and Restricted/Prohibited Goods
Bringing Agricultural Products into the United States
Sample Customs Declaration Form
Customs FAQs for U.S. Residents Who Travel Abroad
APHIS - Travelers Information
APHIS - Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) Information