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Get a Passport, Quick to Check Out the Day of the Dead in Mexico

Americans tend to avoid thinking about death unless they simply can’t help it. But across the border in Mexico, there is an entire holiday centered around death- El Dia de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead.  The Day of the Dead is traditionally a time to honor dead relatives and friends.  It is believed that the souls of the dead are able to return during the celebration and be with their loved ones again.

The celebration takes place right after Americans get done celebrating Halloween, and it’s actually 2 days long.  On November 1st,  dead children and infants are believed to return in spirit to spend the day with their families. T0 honor them, families decorate their graves and an altar inside the home with little gifts like toys and balloons.

The next day, November 2nd, is the day that the souls of adults come back.  They are honored with more “grown-up” offerings, such as bottles of tequila or mezcal, or atole, a thick, hot drink made from cornstarch.

Both children and adults are also honored with altars and tombstones draped in yellow-orange marigolds, and rich feast of cakes and candies, most decorated with grinning skulls.  Most people visit the graves of family members in cemeteries, and in some areas, more elaborate ceremonies and candlelit vigils take place.

The best places to observe the Day of the Dead in Mexico are generally considered to  be  Mixquic in Mexico City, the island of Janitzio in Michoacan, Oaxaca and Meridia in Yucatan.  It’s not uncommon for tourists to visit these areas to observe the celebrations-just remember to be respectful,  since this is a serious, important holiday for the people who live there.

If you’d like to see the Day of the Dead for yourself, you’ll need to get a passport, quick.  Since June of 2009, passports have been required for all travel to Mexico.  Currently, it takes about6 weeks to get a passport if you apply with regular processing, and at least 3 weeks if you apply for expedited processing.

That doesn’t really give you enough time to get your passport and get to Mexico in time for the Day of the Dead this year, but a private passport expediting company can help you get a passport more quickly.

An expediting company will your passport directly to the Department of State, putting it on the “top of the stack.”  This means you get your passport quick, with processing times as low as 24 hours.

Need a passport quick? Apply with us today!

Not Obtaining a Passport Causes Problems For Oklahoma Columnist

Until last week, Susie Williams-Allen, a newspaper columnist for the Purcell Register in Purcell, Oklahoma, wasn’t aware of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI). The WHTI, which has been in effect since June 1, 2009,  requires that American citizens returning from Mexico prove their identity and citizenship with a US passport on their way back across the border.

Last week, she and her husband decided to take a day trip into Mexico without first obtaining a passport.  Unfortunately, on her way back across she learned about the new laws the hard way…from a decidedly unsympathetic border guard. Mrs. Williams-Allen and her husband faced a stern round of questioning before they were eventually allowed back across, treatment that she did not expect from a US border patrol officer as a US citizen.

The rules have been in place since June, and the Department of State has been diligent about publicizing the new requirements, but it appears that infrequent travelers are still falling through the cracks. As Mrs. Williams-Allen noted in her column, “Maybe I should have known I needed a passport. I think there may be more out there like me who do not know. It is not like I am a world traveler.”

The moral of the story?  If you are planning a trip to Mexico, even if it’s just walking across and taking a taxi back to the US, obtaining a passport should be your first step! It’s also a step that should be taken well in advance of a trip, if possible.  Currently,  obtaining a passport takes about 6 weeks if you apply with normal processing and about 3 weeks if you apply with regular processing.

To get your passport more quickly and with less hassle, consider using a private passport expediting company like RushMyPassport.com. You’ll get detailed, easy-to-follow instructions to help you with your paperwork, plus personal help and guidance from a professional passport specialist.

Also, an expediting company will personally deliver your passport application to the Department of State, drastically reducing the time you have to wait. In fact, with an expediting company, your passport could be on its way back to you in as little as 24 hours!

At RushMyPassport.com, we make obtaining a passport quick and easy. Apply with us today!

New Passport Laws Affect Tourism to Small Town in Mexico

The small village of Nuevo Progreso lies just on the other side of the Texas/Mexican border. Known for its safe streets and great bargains on everything from alcohol to medications to souvenirs, over the past few decades Nuevo Progreso has built an economy based largely on Texans who like to winter in Mexico. In the summer, they depend on casual tourists who cross the border to shop.

However, after the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative went into effect on June, 2009, the ability to casually pop over to the Mexican side of the border became a thing of the past for US residents without passports. The new law requires that citizens show US passports or passport cards to get back into the country. Previously, all you had to have was your driver’s license and a birth certificate.

Since the rules went into effect, tourism in Nuevo Progreso has plummeted, according to this article in the Brownsville Herald.   According to Nuevo Progreso civic leaders, business is down 60 percent since the winter. For many in town, this is the slowest slow season they can remember.

For example, the article quotes Smiriam Hernandez, a local shop owner, who said that her 30-year-old establishment has never before lost so much money.  She told the Brownsville Herald that “The problem is the passport.”

However, there is hope: traffic across the border is slowly increasing, and according to Nuevo Progreso’s chamber treasurer, Dr. Maribel Martinez, more Americans living near the border are beginning to understand the necessity of having passports.  She told the Herald:  “People said they had problems with the cost, or gathering their documents. But it seems to be getting better and people are more conscientious now. Before, people didn’t want to accept it.”

Applying for a passport can be intimidating, and it does cost a little bit money. A private passport expediting company like RushMyPassport.com can make it by easier by offering personal assistance and faster processing. With RushMyPassport, you’ll be connected to a professional passport specialist and receive detailed, easy-to-understand instructions to help you through the application process, step by step.

Plus, applications for passports submitted through us are delivered directly to the Department of State for faster processing-often as quick as 24 hours!

Don’t miss out on everything Mexico has to offer- apply for your passport with us today!

Citizens With US Passports Urged To Avoid Parts Of Mexico

Were you planning to visit the Monarch butterfly breeding grounds in Michoacan, Mexico? According to the US State Department, you’d be better off waiting until next year. Mexico is continuing to experience problems with drug cartel violence in that region, according the AP. US travelers should also stay away from the state of Chihuahua, especially Ciudad Juarez, which has the dubious distinction of being Mexico’s most violent city. It would also be a good idea to avoid Nuevo Laredo, Tijuana and Matamoros.

However, other parts of Mexico are still safe to visit. And, as this article from the San  Francisco Chronicle notes, there are plenty of great deals to be found far away from all of the violence.  Hotels are offering free nights, free upgrades, free meals and more. Swine flu is actually less of a concern in Mexico than it is stateside right now, and some hotels are offering ” “flu-free guarantees,” which give you 3 years worth of free vacations if you contract swine flu on your trip. That’s almost worth kissing a pig for!

However, if you want to travel to Mexico to take advantage of these deals, you will need a US passport. US passports normally take at least 6 weeks to process if you use normal processing. If you request expedited processing from the government,  US passports usually take at least 3 weeks to arrive.

To get your US passports more quickly, consider using a private passport expediting company. An expediting company speeds up the application process by assisting you with your paperwork and delivering your application to the State Department by hand.

With an expediting company, your passport application could be processed in as little as 24 hours. Don’t let these great deals pass you by-apply for a passport with RushMyPassport.com today!

Get a Passport to Help Our Southern Neighbors

We’ve already written about how new passport laws are hurting tourism to Canada. However, it seems that our neighbors to the north are not the only ones feeling the pinch as the result of the final phase of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative.

According to this story in the Arizona Republic, the new passport regulations are also hurting tourism south of the border, the icing on the cake of what was already a less-than-stellar tourism year.  The swine flu panic and a sour economy had already impacted travel, but the passport requirement is keeping out Americans who would otherwise be willing and able to travel across the border.

Agencies that provide travel services for Americans traveling to Mexico have experienced a drop in business, as have auto insurance companies that provide insurance for Americans driving across the border.  Yes, making sure you have a valid passport can be a little bit of a hassle, but there’s an incentive to get your passport application in.

As Mexico struggles to recover from the rough tourism season, hotel and resort owners are trying to cut their losses, seeking to attract customers by any means necessary-even if it means slashing prices. The article in the Arizona Republic quotes travel agent Debbie Winnie as saying that prices on many all-inclusive packages have been discounted up to half off!

To take advantage of these deals, you need to get your passport application in now. Currently, it takes at least 6 weeks from the day you apply for your new passport to arrive in the mail. If you apply with the government’s expedited processing, you could still find yourself waiting 3 weeks or longer.

Getting a passport is much faster and less of a hassle when you use a private passport expediting company. An expediting company will provide clear, easy-to-understand instructions on how to fill out your passport application and rush it directly to the US State Department for faster processing. With an expediting company, your application could be processed in as little as 24 hours.

Now is a great time to go to Mexico. Don’t miss out-get your passport application in today!

5 Reasons to Get a Passport Quick for a Vacation in Mexico

As of June 1st, 2009, the US government began requiring that US citizens traveling to Mexico, Canada or the Caribbean carry a US passport instead of simply bringing their driver’s license and birth certificates. Is visiting Mexico worth the extra trouble it takes to get a passport? Yes, definitely!

Here are the top 5 reasons to get a passport to get a passport, quick and visit Mexico this summer:

  • Beaches- Mexico has some of the most gorgeous beaches in the world.  Choose from the well-known resorts of Cancun or find a more remote destination like the beaches of Isla Holbox on the Yucatan Peninsula.
  • Rainforests- This article has a wonderful suggestions on how to explore Mexico’s rainforests.  Get off the beaten path and check out the scenery and wildlife near the cirt of Tulum  in the Yucatan Peninsula or in the state of Chiapas. (more…)

New Passport Rules A Surprise to Two Former Presidents

The Department of State put a lot of effort into publicizing the changes to US travel requirements that became law on June 1st. They added a clock to US Passport Agency’s web site, counting down to the second when the new rules would go into effect. They made announcement after announcement, starting months ahead of time.

However, for all their outreach, there were at least 2 people that the State Department failed to reach with their warnings: Former US Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.  The two ex-presidents were asked about the new requirements during a joint appearance in Toronto on Saturday, May 29th.

As reported in the Winnepeg Free Press, here’s how they responded:

“I’ll be frank with you Frank, I don’t know about the passport issue,” Bush told the crowd of 6,000.

“I thought we were making good progress on using a driver’s licence to cross the border. What happened to the easy-pass card?”

Clinton too said he’d only heard about the passport requirement a day earlier, adding that in all likelihood most Americans were completely unaware of it as well.

Apparently, our two former presidents would have benefited from reading our blog! The new requirements were put into place as part of the final phase of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI). To sum them up:

  • All adult American citizens traveling to Mexico, Canada or the Caribbean must have a US passport or another document approved by Homeland Security to get back into the country. Previously, you could use your driver’s license and a birth certificate if you were crossing by land or by sea, but that is no longer the case.
  • Children under the age of 16 can use a birth certificate when traveling by land or sea.
  • Children ages 16-18 can use a birth certificate when traveling by land or sea as part of an organized, chaperoned group, like a sports group or school group.
  • Passengers of any age can use a driver’s license and birth certificate (or naturalization certificate) if they are on a closed-loop cruise that begins and ends in the same US port.
  • Air passengers of any age need a US Passport Book.

If you need a passport to travel to Mexico, Canada or the Caribbean, you should be prepared to wait. It’s currently taking at least 4 to 6 weeks to process a passport application submitted with standard processing. New passport applications submitted using the government’s expediting service take at least 2-3 weeks, and that’s if you pony up the cash for overnight shipping to and from the Passport Agency.

Can’t wait that long? A private passport expediting company is a convenient way to get your passport more quickly. An expediting company hand-delivers your application materials and then sends you your new passport. Because your application goes to the top of the stack, it gets processed much more quickly-in as little as 24 hours!

Don’t let the new passport regulations interfere with your summer vacation-order your passport now!

One Month Until New Passport Regulations Go Into Effect

Today is May 1st, which means that in exactly one month, new passport regulations will go into effect as part of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. We’ve written about the WHTI pretty extensively, but since it’s about to become reality, here’s  a quick review of the upcoming changes:

  • Passports are already required for air travel to Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.  There are no exceptions, and this will continue after June 1st, 2009.
  • Starting June 1st, 2009, passports will be required for land and sea travel to these locations, too. Currently, all you have to have is a state-issued photo ID and a birth certificate.
  • After June 1, 2009, children under age 16 will be able to use a birth certificate instead of a passport for land and sea travel to these locations only.
  • After June 1, 2009, children ages 16-18 traveling with supervised, chaperoned groups like sports teams, church groups, or school groups will be able to use birth certificates instead of passports, as well.
  • Passports will still be required for all air travelers, no matter how old.
  • Passengers on closed-loop cruises (cruises that begin and end at the same US port) may continue to use an ID and birth certificate.

To help US  citizens who travel across the border frequently, the Department of State has introduced a wallet-sized passport card that is less expensive than a traditional passport book. Unfortunately, it’s also less useful-you can only use it for land and sea travel to Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean.  You can’t use it for plane travel at all.

If you need a new passport, you should apply well in advance of your scheduled departure date, preferably at least 2 or 3 months before your trip. However, if you just realized you need a passport before June 1, there are ways to get a new passport quickly.

The easiest way to get a passport in a hurry is to use a private passport expediting service. An expediting service will deliver your application to the US Passport Agency directly, so it goes to the top of the pile.  By using an expediting service, you could have your new passport on its way back to you in as little as 24 hours, with no appointments or waiting in line.

Don’t get caught without a passport after June 1-order your new passport today!

US Passport Holders Cautioned About Travel To Mexico

Recently, the US Department of Stateissued a travel warning for American citizens regarding travel to Mexico. Our neighbor to the south has long been a popular vacation spot for Americans, but  some areas of the country have erupted into violence as drug cartels struggle for power over Mexican police forces and each other.

The violence has prompted the Department of State to warn US citizens to use caution while traveling in Mexico. Here’s an excerpt from the travel warning (for the full text of current warnings, go to the Department of State’s website):

It is imperative that travelers understand the risks of travel to Mexico, how best to avoid dangerous situations, and whom to contact if one becomes a crime victim.  Common-sense precautions such as visiting only legitimate business and tourist areas during daylight hours, and avoiding areas where prostitution and drug dealing might occur, can help ensure that travel to Mexico is safe and enjoyable.

So, should you avoid going to Mexico altogether? Not necessarily. As the Art of Backpacking points out, most of the violence is occurring away from the major tourist towns.  However, travelers should be cautious when traveling anywhere in Mexico, as the Department of State has advised.  The lawless northern border towns such as Cuidad Juarez and Tijuana are best avoided altogether until the drug-related violence cools down.

According to the Art of Backpacking post, some tour operators are canceling excursions to areas like Mayan ruins that are off the beaten path and away from main roads, so  check before you go to make sure that you’ll be able to do everything you want to do on your trip.

Flying into Mexico is a great way to avoid the border altogether, but you will need a US passport to get back into the US if you’re traveling by plane.  Also, passport laws are changing on June 1st. After that date, Americans crossing the border by land will also need a US passport. The rule change is already causing delays in some regional passport agencies close to the border.

If you need to get a passport quickly, a private passport expediting company can offer personalized customer service and processing times that can be as low as 24 hours, depending on your needs.

Before traveling to Mexico, plan your trip with safety in mind and make sure you have all the appropriate documents before you go. Apply for a US passport today!

What do you think about the travel warning? Will it affect your plans for visiting Mexico?

Do I Need a Passport to go to Mexico, Canada or the Caribbean?

Travel requirements have been changing so quickly, it can be hard to keep track of what documents are required to go where. However, it’s important to stay up-to-date, since not having the correct paperwork can derail your trip!  One of the common questions about travel requirements involves travel to Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean, countries covered under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI).

Do you need a passport for travel to Mexico, Canada or the Caribbean? Currently, it depends on how you are traveling. If you travel by plane, you have to have a valid US passport to travel from the US to any of these countries. However, if you are driving or traveling by sea, you just need to carry proof of identity (like a driver’s license) and proof of citizenship (such as your birth certificate).  No matter what method of travel you choose, it’s still a good idea to get a passport if you are leaving the country. What if you have an emergency and you need to fly back home? When it comes to foreign travel, it’s always a good idea to think like a Boy Scout!

Also, on June 1, 2009, the travel requirements are changing again. On this day, the final phase of the WHTI will go into effect, and land and sea travelers will also be required to have a passport to travel to Mexico, Canada, or the Caribbean. The only exceptions are people who have other types of WHTI-compliant identification (such as the Enhanced Driver’s Licenses offered in some states) and children under the age of 16. A passport will still be required for all international air travel.

If you need to get a new passport quickly, consider using the services of a private expediting company. An expediting company can cut through the red tape to help you get your passport quickly and easily, in as little as 24 hours!