Did you know there are new passport requirements for 2016? The new year has arrived, and so have new travel requirements that could leave you stranded. Read on to learn more about these new passport rules and keep your travel plans on track:
New Passport Requirements for 2016: No More Adding Pages
Frequent travelers, take notice. Before 2016, it was a simple matter to add extra visa pages once you’d filled up your passport. Not any more. Effective January 1, 2016, once you’ve used up all your visa pages, it’s time to renew your passport.
Actually, it’s best to renew before you’ve used up all your visa pages. Some countries like to make a statement with their passport stamps, which can take up more than one page. Don’t have enough pages left? Too bad! Back to the US you go…assuming the airline let you on your flight in the first place.
To avoid all of this, check your destination country’s requirements before traveling. Some countries require two or even four blank pages!
The State Department says the change is to “enhance the security of the passport and to abide by international passport standards.”
When you renew, you can get extra pages for no extra charge. Just request a 52-page passport book. If you live outside the US. you’ll get the larger book automatically when you renew.
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2016 Passport Requirements: Pay Your Taxes, or Else!
Do you owe the IRS? You may want to see about that before you plan any overseas adventures. A new law gives the agency the power to take your passport away if you owe more than $50,000 in taxes, including interest and penalities.
Passed as part of a transportation spending bill, the law applies to existing tax debts. If the IRS has a lien or a levy against you for $50,000 or more, they can now have the State Department cancel an existing passport or refuse to issue a new passport.
If you owe taxes, here’s how to protect your passport:
- Work out an installment plan and make payments as required. The law does not apply to Americans who have a current installment plan with the IRS.
- Challenge the judgement, if you believe the IRS is in error. According to the Wall Street Journal, the new law doesn’t apply if you’re disputing the judgement, whether administratively or through the court system.
The REAL ID Act and You
2016 was supposed to be the year that all state driver’s licenses and IDs became compliant with the REAL ID Act. But several states have refused to comply, and there was concern that people from those states would need to get passports to fly domestically.
Fortunately, the Department of Homeland Security backed down and announced that they would put off applying REAL ID to commercial air travel until January 22, 2018. So, if you live in a non-compliant state, you’re safe for now.
Unless, of course, you want to visit certain federal facilities or military bases. For example, if you have a New Mexico driver’s license and want to visit White Sands Missile Range, you’ll need to provide a passport or an alternate acceptable form of ID. Your driver’s license won’t cut it.
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