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

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


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


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


Passport Photo Tips & Common Mistakes to Avoid

July 10th, 2013
Unlike other photos you have taken, your passport photo won’t be about finding your good side or taking the shot from the most flattering angle. Your passport will have to adhere to a very strict set of government regulations to make sure that it will be approved by the State Department. Some of the most important rules for passport photos include: Full color only Final size 2” x 2” with head measuring between 1” and 1 3/8” from bottom of chin to top of head Use a recent photo taken within the last 6 months Use a white background Take facing directly ahead at the camera for full-face view Eyes open / neutral expression You may wear glasses if you normally wear them – but no dark or tinted lenses & no glare from glasses in photo No hats or head covering


What Should You Do If Your Passport Is Lost or Stolen While Traveling Abroad?

July 2nd, 2013
Traveling to a foreign country should be a wonderful experience, but if your passport is lost or stolen while you are abroad, it will be anything but fun. Not only does it create concerns about identity theft, but without your passport you won’t be able to leave a foreign country to return home. The best thing you can do to protect yourself is to plan ahead. Before your trip, scan the information page of your passport and print a copy to take along on your travels. Keep this backup copy in a different location than your passport – somewhere secure, but do not carry it with your passport, identification and credit cards. This backup copy will help expedite your replacement passport process. So what should you do if this happens to you? Stay calm and try not to worry. Take im


Sharing Your Summer Vacation Photos

June 28th, 2013
Summer is the time when most U.S. citizens choose to travel abroad especially for family vacations and for students participating in international study programs. Unfortunately, with the increase in summer travel there is also an increase in home burglaries and scams.  According to the FBI, burglary rates overall increase around 10 percent in the summer months of July and August.  Furthermore, many cyber thieves troll social networks for personal information that can be used in online fraud scams. According to a survey by MoneyGram, about one-third of consumers aged 18-49 post details about their vacations on social media before or during their trip.  Sharing summer travel plans can be an invitation for criminals to target family members with the “relative in need scam,” warns M