*Updated for 2020*

Every day, military families make sacrifices, large and small. Are you in the military? Is your spouse? The last thing you need is more hassles and headaches. So, here are 5 important things you need to know about military passport requirements in 2020.

Military Passports vs Tourist Passports

Are you being stationed overseas? You will actually need two types of passports. The same goes for your dependents, if they’re going with you. The first type of passport is called a “no fee” passport. This type of passport is issued to military and other government personnel who are traveling abroad on government orders. As you may have guessed, the government provides it free of charge.

To get your no-fee passport, contact your Installation Travel Office.

But don’t stop there. You and your family traveling with you should also get regular tourist passports.

Yes, that can get expensive. But no-fee passports are only for official travel. They should not be used for personal travel. That includes vacations while stationed overseas, and even emergency travel home.

Sure, some military members do use their no-fee military passport for personal travel. But it’s risky. As the US Army website notes:

“The convenience ends, however, when no-fee passports are used for leisure travel. Vacationers can find themselves stranded at the border of another country, trying to get in (or worse: trying to get out).

The reasons why the government-issued passport does not work on leisure travel are because “a government-issued passport is specifically for execution of government orders and travel associated with those orders,” said Edmund Snead, passport and VISA specialist at the U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart passport office.”

Apply Early For Passports in 2020military passport stopwatch

Passport processing is taking longer than usual this year for military families and civilians alike.  So, get your applications in now. If you procrastinate, you might have to pay more in expedite fees.

The Department of State has cautioned military families to apply early for regular tourist passports.  The wait time is now six weeks. It could get longer over the summer as a record number of applications is expected to roll in.  You can reduce the wait time to three weeks with an extra $60 expedite fee per application. However, there is a faster option.

To get a tourist passport more quickly, you have two options. You can visit the nearest Regional Passport Agency. Or, you can use a private expediting company like RushMyPassport to submit your application. Our team can help secure your US tourist Passport with processing options as quickly as 24 hours if necessary. We can expedite child passport, adult passports, passport renewals, and replacement passports if your passport is lost, damaged, or stolen.

Passports for Military Families

What about extended family? Do you have relatives who plan on visiting you and your family where you’re stationed? Make sure they know to apply for their passports early, too! All travelers that plan to leave the US borders will need to hold a valid passport. A valid passport should also have at least six months of validity beyond your return date. That means if you plan to return in January, your passport should not expire until after June (six months after you return home).

Military Passport Information for Childrenmilitary family posing outside the passport office

Dependent children traveling with you on official orders should be eligible for no-fee passports. But, just like adults, children also need regular tourist passports.

Applying for a passport for a child is different than applying for a passport for an adult. Children need permission from both parents. But having both parents apply in person with the child can be especially difficult for military families that may have limited time together.

What if both parents can’t be there? In that case, one parent can go alone. But, they’ll need a signed, notarized copy of Form DS-3053.  Here is a printable copy.

For more on passports for children, see How to Get a Child Passport

Passports As ID for Military Bases

Live on base in the US? Your visitors may need to bring passports or other backup ID. Military bases are no longer accepting driver’s licenses and state IDs from any states that are not REAL ID-compliant. Check the REAL ID Act Compliant states here.

Visitors with IDs from these states do have a few options. Someone with a Defense Department card can escort them. Some states offer a special, more secure Enhanced Driver’s License. Other acceptable IDs include:

  • US passports
  •  Native American tribal documents
  • Defense Department or federal ID cards.

Need a passport fast? Can’t make it to a passport agency?

Woman holding an American flag over her head

RushMyPassport can get your tourist passport application processed in as little as 24 hours. There’s no need to make an appointment or travel to a passport agency with our service. We hand-carry your documents to the Department of State for processing. Then, we send your new passport straight back to you. And to say “thank you” to the brave men and women in our armed forces, we offer a 10% military passport discount.

Save 10% on our easy expedited passport service today!

Photo credits:  Some rights reserved by wwarby, License Some rights reserved by One-Fat-Man