As long as you treat it right, your new passport is built to last for around ten years. However, the more you travel, the more wear and tear it will show – and the greater the chance of accidental damage. A damaged passport is most definitely an inconvenience. If the damage is at all severe, the document will have to be replaced before you attempt to leave the country again. Plus, if your passport is damaged, you automatically forfeit the ability to apply for a passport renewal by mail.

If you’d like to keep your passport in good condition, these five rules should be set in stone:

1st Commandment: Thou Shalt Invest In a Case

A good case can go a long way toward keeping your passport safe, preventing it from getting crushed or bent in your luggage. You don’t have to buy anything expensive, but an RFID-blocking case can also assuage any concerns you may have about the RFID chip that comes standard in all new passports and passport cards.

2nd Commandment: Thou Shalt Check Thy Pockets Before Doing Laundry

Hands down, the most common accident that can befall a passport is an accidental drowning in a washing machine. Always check your pockets!

3rd Commandment: Thou Shalt Not Bend Thy Passport

Don’t test the limits of your passport’s flexibility. Let’s face it, lots of people fidget when they’re nervous or bored, and what are you most likely to have in your hands as you wait in that long Customs line? That’s right…your passport! Bending it or flipping the pages repeatedly can cause the laminate to start to peel, though.

4th Commandment: Thou Shalt Keep Thy Passport Away From Animals and Small Children

Aside from the washing machine, your passport’s prime natural enemies are pets (especially dogs) and small children. Both are instinctively destructive and like to chew on whatever random foreign objects they encounter. Your passport is just another piece of rawhide to your pup!

5th Commandment: Thou Shalt Avoid Excessive Humidity

You already know that passports and water don’t mix. But water in the air can be just as detrimental, as one of Jaunted’s writers found out recently. Of course, some of the world’s coolest destinations come complete with a hothouse atmosphere, so Jaunted came up with a clever suggestion to keep your passport safe:

“The best way to prevent this was immediately apparent from our days dealing with an underwater camera: desiccant packets. You know those little silica gel sachets that fall out of new shoe boxes and whatnot? Those. Had we stashed our passport in a Ziploc baggie with one of those things, it’d be sitting high and dry. Literally. Instead it’s chilling in the minibar fridge where mean Mr. mustiness can’t get at it (as easily).”

If you do need to replace a damaged passport, learn how to apply for Passport Replacement Services.

Whether you’re replacing a damaged passport or applying for a passport renewal, keep in mind that it takes at least six weeks for an application to be processed. If you pay an additional $60 to the Department of State, you can get it more quickly, but it will still take three weeks. If you need it more quickly, you can either apply in person at one of State Department’s 24 regional passport agency offices, or use a private company like RushMyPassport. We hand-deliver your passport application to the Department of State for priority processing in as little as 24 hours.

Need a passport renewal fast? Contact us today!