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Posts Tagged ‘Caribbean’

Where Do You Need a Passport?

Most people are aware that you need a passport to go to Europe, Africa and Asia. But what if you’re staying closer to home?

A decade ago, getting into Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean was as easy as saying “I’m an American citizen,” but not anymore.  After 9-11, The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative was enacted making it much harder to get in and out of the US without a passport.

Don’t get caught off-guard if you’re heading to one of these destinations:

 

Canada

Visiting Canada? Check your passport, eh? You definitely need one if you’re flying in or out of the country, unless you have a NEXUS trusted traveler card and you are flying to a Canadian preclearance airport with a NEXUS kiosk.

If you’re traveling by land or sea, you need one of the following to re-enter the US: a passport, a passport card, an enhanced driver’s license (currently only 4 states offer these), or a NEXUS, FAST or SENTRI trusted traveler card.

Mexico

If you’re flying to or from Mexico, you need a valid passport.

If you’re traveling by land or sea, Mexico requires all US citizens to have a passport if they’re traveling beyond the “border zone,” about 12 miles in. However, the US government requirements for re-entering the US are the same as for Canada above, regardless of whether you stay within the “border zone” or not.

Aruba

To visit Aruba, you need a passport if you’re flying and a passport or a passport card if you’re traveling by sea.

St. Martin

To hang out in this island paradise, you need a passport and a ticket back out of the country.

Bermuda

Bermuda requires all US citizens to present a passport to get into the country.

The Bahamas

If you’re traveling by air, you need a passport book.

If you’re traveling by sea, you can use a passport, passport card, enhanced driver’s license, NEXUS, FAST or SENTRI card.

The British Virgin Islands

The US Virgin Islands are part of the United States, but should you want to visit their British siblings, you’ll need a valid passport book if you’re traveling by air.

If you’re traveling by sea, you’ll need a passport, a passport card, an enhanced driver’s license or a NEXUS, FAST or SENTRI card.

The Cayman Islands

As of January 23, 2007, you must have a valid passport book to enter the Caymans.

Trinidad and Tobago

Unlike many Caribbean countries, a US passport book is the only accepted form of ID to enter this island nation, no matter how you’re traveling. (more…)

New Caribbean Resorts: Good Reason To Get a US Passport Renewal

Is your passport about to expire? Are you wondering if you should bother with the US passport renewal process, or just let it go for a while? The New York Times has a review of some new Caribbean resorts that just might motivate you to get down to the post office with your renewal application!

All of the resorts the Times reviews focus on immersing travelers in local culture and local experiences. My favorite resort out of the 5 mentioned in the article is the Hotel Chocolat on St. Lucia. The resort consists of private cottages located on a real, working cocoa plantation. Perks include gorgeous, lush Caribbean scenery and, of course, chocolate.

However, James Bond fans might prefer a stay at the newly renovated GoldenEye, the same Jamaican property where Ian Fleming wrote his famous spy novels. Now owned by Chris Blackwell of Island Records, the resort has 22 decked-out rooms, serves local fare and hosts a variety of fun fitness activities.

Of course, the only resort mentioned in the article that you can visit without a passport is the one in Puerto Rico. If you want to go anywhere else in the Caribbean, you’d best get your US passport renewal application in. A passport is required to travel between the US and the Caribbean by air. If you’re traveling by sea, you have a little bit more leeway and can use a passport book, a passport card, an enhanced driver’s license or a trusted traveler card. See Do You Need a Passport to Go to the Caribbean? for details.

RushMyPassport can help you get your US passport renewal processed quickly, much faster than the standard 6 week processing time or even the three weeks for the government’s expedited processing option. We’ll personally deliver your application to the Department of State for processing in as little as 24 hours.

Apply for your US passport renewal today!

Get a Fast Passport And Snag Cheap Flights to the Bahamas

Fall is here, and the days and nights are starting to get a little bit chilly. I love fall, but my bones are starting to ache and I can’t deny that I’d also  love to lounge on the beach and chase autumn’s chill away with some sun and sand.

Spirit Airlines’ new special makes it much more affordable to do just that (via SmarterTravel). Right now, they’re offering flights from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to Nassau in the Bahamas and back again, for $1 each way! Nope, that’s not a typo. If you fly on the right dates, you can snag a round-trip ticket to the Bahamas for just $2.

Of course, there’s still taxes and fees to consider, plus Spirit is notorious for its baggage fee structure. If you can travel light, it’s probably still worth it, but it’s not a bad idea to guesstimate how much luggage you’ll be carrying and then check prices from other carriers.

If you go, remember that you’ll need a US passport to fly to the Bahamas. They won’t let you on the plane without one.

Spirit’s $2 fares are available in November, December, January and February. If you want to squeeze some time on the beach in before Christmas, you’ll need to request fast passport processing.

If you apply for expedited service from the Department of State, you’re still looking at a processing time of at least 3 weeks. For truly fast passport processing, you’ll need to go ahead and make your flight reservations and then either apply in person at a Regional Passport Agency office or use a private passport expediting company like RushMyPassport.

Of these two options, using a private passport expediting company is the most convenient. Unlike a passport office, there’s no need to make an appointment, wait in line, travel to an agency office or any of that other stressful stuff. All you have to do is apply like normal, get your documents “sealed” at the post office and then forward them to the expediting company. At RushMyPassport, we can have your application processed in as little as 24 hours. How’s that for fast passport processing?

Ready to hit the beach? Apply for a fast passport with us today!

Get Your US Passport Renewal Now For Pirates Week in the Caymans

In honor of International Talk Like a Pirate Day, the following post is written mostly in Pirate.

Arrr! September 19th be International Talk Like a Pirate Day, but just ’cause it’s in the past, that doesn’t mean that your buccaneering days are over ’til next year. Hoist yer sails and make your way down to the Cayman Islands, which come November 11th through the 21st will be filled with the dirtiest scalawags this side of Tortuga!

In other words, it’s Pirates Week in the Caymans. The Pirates Week  festival has been going on for 33 years, long before pirates became the pop culture darlings they are today.  The islands were originally settled by pirates, slaves and other outcasts, and Pirates Week is a chance for citizens of the Caymans to celebrate their freewheeling and colorful history.  For example, the Pirates Week website describes one of the festival’s main attractions:

Then on the first Saturday we have a mock ‘pirate invasion’ from the sea! Two old-time sailing vessels, loaded with pirates make a Saturday surprise landing at the bowl-shaped George Town harbour, as thousands line the streets to take part in the spectacle or just watch. It’s good-natured fun, there’s a new twist every year, and families just love it. It’s the only event of its kind in the Caribbean region.

Well, shiver me timbers! Ye could hardly do better for a fall vacation, but make sure ye keep to the code: The Cayman Islands, being originally settled by the notorious pirate Sir Francis Drake, be a British territory now, and ye must be issued a US passport or be made to walk the plank back home.

Check the expiration date on your passport-if it’s expired, you’ll need to apply for a US passport renewal. In most cases, though, you can apply for your US passport renewal by mail, without having to present your scurvy self to the authorities.

But avast! It can take 6 weeks for your US passport renewal to be processed if you request regular processing, and by that time the last pirate ship will have sailed from the island. To get it faster, you can pay an additional $60 gold pieces to expedite it, but it’ll still take at least 3 weeks to get to you.

RushMyPassport can help-we’ll use our swiftest vessels to take your US passport renewal application directly to the landlubbers at the Department of State, for processing times as low as 24 hours!

Get an Expedited Passport for cheap fares at Spirit Airlines!

Have you always fantasized about visiting a tropical Caribbean beach but never thought you’d be able to afford it? What if your plane tickets were only $2?

At first glance, joining Spirit Airlines’ fare club seems like it just might be the ticket to bring your dream vacation within reach. Membership costs $39.95 per year, but it allows you to access sales that aren’t available to non-members. For example, right now club members can fly from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to the Bahamas for just $2 round trip, and from Fort Lauderdale to Cancun for $18 round-trip (plus the usual fees and taxes, of course).

Spirit has a members-only sale once every 6 weeks, and as long as you move quickly, you can snag those cheap fares on all the tickets you purchase.

But is it worth it? SmarterTravel.com took a look at the program last year after it was announced and concluded

If you frequently fly between the cities Spirit serves (a heavy emphasis on Florida, the Caribbean, and Latin America), membership is worth the cost. If, for example, you can snag a $2 fare, even with the membership cost and taxes and fees, you’ll still be getting a bargain compared to other airlines’ prices. But, you must keep in mind that availability is often very limited. You’ll find that fares are only offered on about a dozen select dates, and even then, you must rush to book early or risk the best deals selling out.

Some deals are also last-minute. For example, many of the cheap flights in the sale I linked to above depart in August, and it’s now late July. So, if you’re thinking of using the Fare Club to try to snag cheap flights to Spirit’s international destinations, you may find yourself needing an expedited passport.

Generally speaking, it takes about 6 weeks to get your passport application processed if you order regular service. If you use the Department of State’s expedited passport service, it could still take up to 3 weeks or longer. A private passport expediting company costs a little more but provides you with much faster service, often providing expedited passport service in as little as 24 hours without requiring you to take additional time off work to visit a passport office.

Apply for your expedited passport today!

New Passport Cards Confuse Travelers

In 2008, the US Department of State introduced a new passport option: the US passport card.  The wallet-sized card was meant to make international travel to Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean more convenient and less expensive. Passport cards are the same size and shape as a driver’s license, and they cost much less-only $45 for a card compared to $100 for a passport book.

Passport cards are gradually becoming more and more popular, but as Las Vegas’ Fox 5 News reports, there is still a lot of confusion about what type of travel they can actually be used for, and that means people are missing their vacations.

You see, passport cards may be much cheaper than a regular passport, but they are much more limited in terms of where and when you can use them. They are ONLY valid for land or sea travel to Mexico, Canada, or the Caribbean. They aren’t valid for travel to any other countries. Equally important, they can’t be used for air travel at all. So, even if you are flying to Mexico, Canada or the Caribbean, you need a passport book, not a passport card. If you show up at the airport with a passport card, they won’t let you on the plane. That’s exactly what happened to Wendy and Jason Baxter, as described by Fox 5 News:

“You have to have a passport book,” the agent told the family.Last year, when Wendy and Jason Baxter ordered new passports, they were told they could order the passcards to fly to Canada instead of the more expensive passport, they said.“We asked what the difference was” between the two, Wendy Baxter said. Baxter said they were told passports were needed to fly overseas, while the passcard would get them into Mexico and Canada.“(You) get everything packed, everything’s done, (and) you get to the airport … and they say, ‘You can’t go,’” Wendy Baxter said.

Did passport card confusion catch you by surprise? If you need a new passport in a hurry, you have 3 different options: order a new passport with expedited processing, which costs an additional $60 and will get your application processed in 3 weeks instead of the normal 6, make an appointment at a passport agency office, or use a private passport expediting company like RushMyPassport.

Of these options, an expediting company is the most convenient way to get superfast service. At RushMyPassport, we walk you through the application process and hand-deliver your application to the Department of State, resulting in processing times as low as 24 hours.

Apply for your new passport today!

Get an Expedited Passport Renewal This Summer

The warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico are the summer vacation spot of choice for many American families, supporting a tourism industry worth $20 billion per year.

However, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill is growing larger every day, making tourists understandably nervous about vacationing anywhere that might be in its path. Currently, no oil has washed ashore in Florida, home of some of the most popular beaches.  However, as of Monday of last week, the Miami Herald was reporting that the oil was about 80 miles away from a “loop current” that could coat Southern Florida’s white sand beaches in oily muck.

The bottom line? Nobody is sure if or when the spill will hit Florida’s beaches.  The Miami Herald quoted Igor Kamenkovich, a professor at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science:

`It’s highly unpredictable,” said Kamenkovich. Any major changes in wind or weather patterns such as a cold front or a hurricane could change the forecast, he said.

This unpredictability is what’s scaring off tourists. On the one hand, this could be a great year to go to Florida-if the spill stays far offshore, the beaches will stay gorgeous with the added bonus of being much less crowded than usual.

On the other hand, if the oil spill hits Florida during your vacation, it’s not going to be pretty. And while many hotels are relaxing their policies on cancellations and even offering credits for future visits if the spill ruins this year’s vacation, having to cancel at the last minute is a still a huge inconvenience.

If you decide against going to Florida this year, the Caribbean has beaches that are just as pretty and is expected to remain out of harm’s way.  Apply for an expedited passport renewal (or an expedited passport if you don’t have one already), and this year could be the year you finally take that Caribbean vacation you’ve always wanted.

There are a couple of different ways to obtain an expedited passport renewal.  First, you can order expedited service for an additional $60 when you mail in your passport renewal forms.  This will cut the expected processing time from 6 weeks down to three weeks.

If you need your expedited passport renewal more quickly, the simplest and most convenient option is to use a private passport expediting company like RushMyPassport.

RushMyPassport.com offers processing times as low as 24 hours, with more affordable options that take just a few days longer.

Apply for your expedited passport renewal today!

Do You Need a Passport to Go To The Caribbean?

If you live in one of the areas of the US that is currently buried in snow, taking off to the sunny Caribbean probably sounds perfect right about now.  However, before you book that Caribbean cruise, take a moment to familiarize yourself with the new passport requirements.

Up until June 01, 2009, you could visit the Caribbean with just your state-issued photo ID and  a birth certificate as long you were traveling by  sea. You only needed a passport if you were flying. However, on June 01 of last year, the final phase of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) went into effect.

The WHTI requires US citizens traveling by sea to the Caribbean to carry one of the following documents:

  • A US passport book
  • A US passport card
  • A “trusted traveler” identification card, such as a NEXUS, SENTRI or FAST card
  • An enhanced driver’s license or EDL (these have an RFID chip in the back like a passport, and only certain states issue them)

There are, however, a couple of exceptions.  First, cruise ship passengers who are taking a closed-loop cruise, one that begins and ends at the same US port, can use a state-issued photo ID along with a copy of their birth certificate.

Second, children under the age of 16 can use a birth certificate, as can children under the age of 19 if they are traveling with an organized group chaperoned by an adult, like a school group, sports team or church group.

However,  air travelers of any age are required to have a US passport book, no exceptions. Additionally, the passport card is no good for air travel-you can only use it if you are traveling by sea.

The new passport requirements apply to travel to the following countries:

  • Anguilla
  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Aruba
  • Bahamas
  • Bermuda
  • British Virgin Islands
  • Cayman Islands
  • Dominica
  • Dominican Republic
  • Grenada
  • Jamaica
  • Montserrat
  • Netherlands Antilles
  • St. Kitts and Nevis
  • St. Lucia
  • St. Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Turks and Caicos

Even if you are on a closed-loop cruise, it’s a good idea to have a passport book with you just in case you have to fly back unexpectedly. For the same reason, if you are traveling with children or sending your kids off on a trip with their church or school, it’s a good idea to send them with a passport, as well.

If the new passport requirements have caught you off guard, RushMyPassport can help. We’ll hand-deliver your application to the Department of State, resulting in processing times as fast as 24 hours!

Get ready to explore the Caribbean-apply for your passport today!

New Passport Rules Don’t Slow Border Traffic

Today, Border Patrol officials began asking Americans for passports at the American and Canadian borders.  The final phase of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative is in effect, and a passport or another government-approved document is now required to re-enter the country.

How has this affected traffic across the borders? Not much, it seems. The Houston Chronicle is reporting that wait times at both the northern border with Canada and the southern border with Mexico are normal today, and that the new rules haven’t caused an increase in travel time for most American citizens.

However, not everyone who regularly crosses the border has the correct documents.  FoxTV in El Paso reported that a flood of people applying for a last-minute passport has led some residents to camp out at the local county courthouse to make sure that their passport application gets in.

The new regulations require that American citizens returning from Mexico, Canada or the Caribbean show a US passport, US passport card, or other approved ID to reenter the country. There are some exceptions for children and certain cruise passengers.  For more on the new regulations, see Do I Need a Passport For Travel To Mexico, Canada or the Caribbean?

For now, the government is letting people through without passports with a written warning, often after delaying them for a background check. However, they aren’t saying how long that policy will continue, so if you’re planning on visiting our neighbors to the north and south anytime soon, you need to apply for a passport.

Passport applications usually about two months to process, so you should apply well in advance. Even if you ask for the government’s expedited processing service, expect to wait at least a month. For faster service, you can submit your application through a private passport expediting company instead. These companies will carry your application to the Department of State by hand for processing times that can be as quick as 24 hours. Unlike the process of applying for an emergency passport directly through the government, there are no appointments necessary and you don’t have to travel out of your way to a Passport Agency office. The expediting company handles all of that for you!

Don’t get caught unprepared at the border-order your passport today!

Traveling to Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean: Carry US Passports!

US citizens planning a trip to Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean need to be aware of new travel requirements that will become effective June 1st, 2009. After June 1st,  the days of being able to cross the border by flashing your driver’s license and your birth certificate are over.  US citizens traveling to these regions will need to show US passports or passport cards to re-enter the country…or else!

Right about now, your inner three-year-old is probably asking “Oh yeah…or else what?” What happens if you try to get back in to the US without a passport after June 1st? Will you be trapped at the border forever? Arrested?

Fortunately, the consequences for American citizens trying to re-enter the country without US passports after the deadline are not quite that grim. According to the US government’s fact sheet on the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, travelers will “likely experience a delay as U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers attempt to verify your identity and citizenship.” In other words, expect to be massively inconvenienced.

Being held up by Customs and Border Protection is no small matter…delays in getting home can result in having to pay extra for lodging, missing work and many other inconveniences. It’s also worth noting that if you are planning on traveling on a cruise or with a professional tour group, they probably won’t let you leave the US with them in the first place if you don’t have the right documents for re-entry.

So, please, don’t forget your US passports!

If you have a trip planned for Mexico, Canada or the Caribbean, the fastest way to get US passports is to use a private passport expediting service.  When you use an expediting service, you get the benefit of faster processing and more personal customer service.

RushMyPassport.com offers a variety of processing times for applications for US passports to make sure your trip stays on schedule. For the fastest service, order your US passports from us today!