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

Houston Passport Agency Closed

October 15th, 2013
  Houston, you have a problem: The Houston Passport Agency is closed for renovations. If you need an emergency passport, you have two choices: travel to another city or use a private expediting company like RushMyPassport. The Houston Passport Agency handles urgent passport requests. Typically, you are eligible to use this office if you need a passport AND You have an international departure planned within the next 14 days You are leaving in the next 4 weeks and your trip requires a visa. Long story short, if you're eligible to use the Houston Passport Agency, your stress levels are probably already high. To add insult to injury, the Houston Passport Agency will be shut down until some time in 2014. How are you supposed to get your passport now? With the office c


Top Tips for Booking Holiday Travel

October 8th, 2013
October is in full swing and the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s holidays are fast approaching. If you are wondering when the best timeto book your trips and travel, we’ve got your answers here. The short answer is the time is now! “The best bet for the consumer is to travel as early before the actual holiday or as late as possible afterward, and always leave room for schedule changes,” explained Dean Headley, co-author of Wichita State University’s Airline Quality Rating report. “During the past several years, the holiday travel period has continued to be a challenging time for travelers, and with industrywide seat capacity reduction, it will remain a stressful travel experience [this year].” Travel search engine analyzed “hundreds of millions”


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


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


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


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


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


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.


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


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