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U.S. Passport Guide : Travel Advice and Passport Information

Passports and the Government Shutdown

October 1st, 2013
Can you still get a passport?  Yes! You can still get a passport even though the federal government is partially shut down. Passport Services are fully supported by the fees you pay to get a U.S. passport, instead of appropriated money, so these activities are not affected. According to the Department of State, "In the event of a lapse in appropriations, the Department of State will continue passport and visa operations as well as provide critical services to U.S. citizens overseas. It is a national security agency which means it has national security responsibilities and will continue working despite the shutdown." One caveat: Some passport services located in some Federal buildings MAY BE DISRUPTED if the buildings are forced to close due to lack of maintenance and support staf

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The 411 On Child Passports

September 22nd, 2013
Figuring out the who, what, when and how when it comes to traveling abroad with your children - the 411 on child passports - can be overwhelming.  Here's for the busy parent looking for quick and easy instructions. We've broken it down for you so you can get the appropriate documents to travel when and where you need to with your infant or toddler. Do babies and toddlers need a passport?  YES.  Any United States citizen, no matter what age, traveling outside of the United States by air requires a passport. The confusion can be when a minor is traveling by land or sea to Canada or Mexico they can use their birth certificate.  You can get additional information here. Here is the 411 on child passports: Passport Application You must fill out Passport Application Form DS1

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Trusted Traveler Programs: TSA Pre✓™ – No More Groping

August 27th, 2013
So far we’ve covered the 3 key Trusted Traveler Programs:  Global Entry, NEXUS and SENTRI.  The 4th program, and the last post in our series, is focused on TSA Pre✓™.  On Friday, 7/19/13, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced that it would be open up the program to more US citizens. Previously, to be eligible for TSA Pre✓™, travelers had to opt-in through an airline’s frequent flier program, or be enrolled in one of CBP’s Global Entry, SENTRI or NEXUS Trusted Traveler programs.   To date, more than 12 million travelers have experienced TSA Pre✓™ at 40 airports nationwide. The reason for the popularity of TSA Pre✓™ is that travelers get to leave on their shoes, light outerwear and belt, keep their laptop in its case and their 3-1-1 compl

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Trusted Traveler Programs: SENTRI – Easy Access

August 20th, 2013
In our fourth post in our Trusted Traveler Program Series  we are going to cover SENTRI, the program for pre-approved travelers who cross the U.S./Mexico border frequently. SENTRI users have access to specific, dedicated primary lanes into the United States.  Members are issued a Radio Frequency Identification Document (RFID) that will identify their record and status in the CBP database upon arrival at the U.S. port of entry.  Participants in the program wait for much shorter periods of time than those in regular lanes waiting to enter the United States, even at the busiest time of day. SENTRI Dedicated Commuter Lanes are available at El Paso, TX; Otay Mesa, CA; San Ysidro, CA; Calexico, CA; Nogales, AZ; Hidalgo, TX; Brownsville, TX; Anzalduas, TX; Laredo, TX; and San Luis, AZ

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Trusted Traveler Programs: NEXUS – The Wait is Over

August 13th, 2013
This is our third post in our series Trusted Traveler Programs.  In our last post we covered the Global Entry Program.  In this post we are going to take a closer look at NEXUS, a program designed to expedite the border clearance process for travelers into Canada and the United States.  The NEXUS card is approved as an alternative to the passport for air, land, and sea travel into the United States for US and Canadian citizens.   Once approved into the NEXUS program, you are issued a photo-identification, RFID card. Benefits of NEXUS: Receive expedited passage at: NEXUS-dedicated lanes Airport kiosks By calling a marine telephone reporting center to report your arrival into the United States and Canada. Cross the border with a minimum of customs and immigration que

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Trusted Traveler Programs: Global Entry Program – Arrive in Style

August 6th, 2013
As we mentioned in our previous post “Trusted Traveler Programs - Are You Enrolled?”, Global Entry is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. How Does the Global Entry Program Work? Global Entry is intended for frequent international travelers but as of now, there is no minimum number of trips necessary to qualify.  When arriving at the airport, the following occurs: Participants proceed to Global Entry kiosks Present their machine-readable passport or U.S. permanent resident card Place fingertips on the scanner for fingerprint verification Make a customs declaration. Receive a transaction receipt from kiosk and proceed to baggage claim and the exit.

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Trusted Traveler Programs: Are You Enrolled?

July 30th, 2013
Have you noticed more and more travelers skipping right by you in airport lines recently?   If so, they are probably part of a Trusted Traveler Program - a program developed by Homeland Security and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to speed up the travel process.  Trusted Traveler Programs provide expedited travel for pre-approved, low risk travelers through dedicated lanes and kiosks. There are several different TTP’s you can apply for depending on the type of travel you plan on doing.  Here is a brief overview of each program: GLOBAL ENTRY:  If you want to travel internationally and move quickly through CBP processing, this is the program for you.  The Global Entry program provides expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States

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Southwest Airline Flight Personnel Need Passport by End of 2013

July 24th, 2013
Dallas-based Southwest Airlines is planning to begin providing international service. They expect to offer the new service in 2014. The airline doesn't currently fly to destinations outside of the United States. To prepare for this international phase of the airline's history, Southwest announced that it would require all of its pilots and flight attendants to get passports by the end of 2013. By making the announcement so far in advance, the airline is taking steps to ensure that none of their flight personnel will encounter any glitch or snafu that could potentially cause delays in the length of time it takes to get a passport. The United States requires valid passports of all citizens who leave the continental United States, and a passport is required for re-entry into the country

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Guide to Tipping in Top Destinations for US Travelers

July 23rd, 2013
As part of your preparations for traveling internationally, it is always best to learn about the specific tipping customs in your destination countries. Different cultures have different norms. In the U.S., tipping big for exceptional service is a compliment and it is much appreciated by person receiving the tip. But in some countries, over tipping for a service can be a personal insult. A study done at Cornell University shows that U.S. citizens are the best tippers and that they tip for more types of service than citizens in other nations. But what you’ve learned here in the U.S. will not necessarily serve you on your international travels. So do your homework before you travel and learn the local tipping customs. Here are a few guidelines for some top international destinations

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4 Great Apps for International Travel

July 16th, 2013
If you want to make your international adventure even better, don’t forget to pack your smartphone. Looking for flight updates? There’s an app for that. Looking for a good restaurant, an easy way to figure out the local currency exchange, a GPS walking map or some help with language translation? There are apps for that, too. And most of them are free. There are even apps to take your own passport photo. A good travel app can make your international travel easier – and a lot more fun. Here are four of our favorites. Kayak There’s a reason that Kayak has become the iPhone’s most popular travel app. This easy-to-use app streamlines the travel process by allowing you to compare hundreds of travel sites at once to find the flights, hotels and rental cars that best fit your n

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