Category: Passport Issues

Help! When Should I Update My Passport Photo?

You’re getting ready for the vacation of a lifetime.

You’ve packed your bags, booked a dreamy hotel room, and you’re ready to leave your desk and the drama that comes with it behind for a few weeks.

The only thing left to really consider?

Whether or not you need to update passport photos. After all, you were going through some, well, interesting hair and style choices when you first had the photos taken. Now, you’re worried that the old passport photo doesn’t look like you.

So, when should you update passport photo — and how long is a passport good for, anyway?

Keep on reading this post in order to find out everything that you need to know.

How Long Is a Passport Good For?

First of all, let’s get some basics out of the way regarding passport laws first.

Your passport will be good for ten years — though if you’re planning to travel to certain countries, you’ll need to be certain that your passport doesn’t expire within six months of your travel date.

If you need to renew a passport, you can use the DS-82 form and mail it into the National Passport Processing Center.

Be aware, however, that you’ll need to provide a new photo whenever you renew passport. If you’ve changed your name, you’ll also need to complete name change documents and include them with your passport application.

You’ll also need to mail in your old passport — but don’t worry, you’ll get it back.

The main drawback to this method?

The long processing times.

You can expect a standard passport renewal to take anywhere from four to six weeks. If you’re in a time crunch, sometimes this just isn’t going to work.

Luckily, we can help you to apply for an emergency passport that could get you a renewed passport in as little as 24 hours.

When to Update Passport Photo

Let’s make one thing clear about passport photos right out of the gate.

You need to understand that you can’t just switch up your old passport photo and paste a new one into your passport.

If you want to change your picture, then, unfortunately, you’ll have to apply for a completely new passport.

But when do you need to update your passport photo?

The good news is that the State Department is surprisingly more understanding than you might initially expect.

If you’ve switched up the length or the color of your hair, for example, this won’t require you to get a new passport altogether. The same goes if you’ve decided to get rid of your beard, or if you’ve gotten a new piercing on your face or your ear.

Even if you’ve gotten a tattoo on your neck, you most likely won’t need to update your passport photo.

Even children most likely won’t need to get new passport photos, even if the way they’ve grown means they look almost nothing like their old photos! Because children need to get their passports renewed every five years, the State Department offers leniency to your little ones.

But when is it truly necessary for you to update your passport photo — and therefore apply for a new passport altogether?

If you’ve lost — or even gained — a serious amount of weight?

Then you’ll likely need to apply for a new passport.

The same goes if you’ve gotten into an accident or even had plastic or reconstructive surgery that has completely changed the look of your face.

If you’ve been able to receive gender confirmation surgery since the last time your passport photo was taken? You’ll also need to make sure your photo has changed to reflect your journey.

Understanding Passport Photo Requirements

You know that your passport photo likely isn’t going to be a glamour shot.

And while you can still look good in your passport photo, the main thing is that you take care to follow all of the rules and regulations regarding how the photo should be taken.

First of all, your face needs to be in full view, and your eyes need to be open.

You can have a natural smile, but in most cases, a more neutral expression is the best way to go.

The background of your photo should be white or off-white, and the clothes that you wear should be solid-colored. To avoid any potential problems, do not wear a headband, hat, or any other hair accessory. (If your religion indicates that you must cover your hair, a hijab or headscarf is allowed. You’ll just need to submit a statement saying so.)

Be aware that you can’t wear glasses in your passport photo — this is a detail that many people get wrong!

Make sure that you have the photos printed out in 2 x 2-inch dimensions, and of course, make sure that you’ve printed your photos in color.

Let Us Help You to Update Passport Photo

We hope that this post has helped you to understand when you do and do not need to update passport photo.

Whether you need help understanding how to apply for an international drivers permit, or if you need to get an emergency passport, we’re here to help you.

We know that you’re terrified by the thought of losing or having to seriously adjust your travel plans. We’ll work with you to do everything that we can to prevent that from happening.

No matter what you need help with, get in touch with us today to learn how we can help you.

Help! My Dog ate my Passport!

As most travelers know, life is full of unpredictable moments. Many times the hiccups we experience while traveling are the stories that make the trip memorable. But what happens when something bad happens before the trip? What happens if your dog chews on your passport? What happens if your dog eats your passport? Can you travel with a damaged passport? Find out what you need to do to replace a damaged passport.

Help! My dog ate my passport!

Any damage to your passport can ruin a potential trip. The U.S. Department of State and all immigration officials take passport damage very seriously. If your dog chewed on the corner of one page of your passport, that may still be enough damage for your passport to be considered ‘invalid’. Simply yelling, ‘Help! My dog ate my passport!’ will not fix this issue. You will need to replace your passport immediately.

A routine passport replacement can take up to six weeks or longer. Fortunately, for those that need a passport faster, you can use a private expediting service or you can contact your closest Regional Passport Agency. If you are abroad and your passport is damaged, you should go to your closest embassy or consulate.

What if my dog only chewed on my passport?

There really isn’t any way to get official verification that your passport will be accepted by the border agents. If you have any doubts about the condition of your passport, you should seek to replace it immediately. When you replace your damaged passport, you should also include a letter explaining the damage. You may also want to include a request that your original damaged passport be returned to you. Many travelers keep their old passports as a keepsake or memory of the visas and stamps accrued.

Help! My Passport has some minor wear and tear!

Regular wear and tear may not mean you need to replace your passport. While there is no official description of what constitutes wear and tear, your passport will usually have some minor wear marks after a few trips abroad. We highly recommend keeping your passport in a safe place at all times. Invest in a passport protector case and try to make sure you aren’t leaving your passport in your pocket or luggage unprotected. If you do feel your passport is starting to show signs of heavy use, you may want to renew it or replace it before your next trip.

Passport Expediting – How Can You Get a Passport Quickly?

Passport Expediting ServiceIf you are in a rush, you do not have enough time to wait for U.S. Department of State to process your passport. Learn how a registered passport expediter, and passport expediting can help you receive your new  or  passport renewal in a hurry.

How Can You Get a Passport Quickly?

Typically passport applications take four to seven weeks to process. When you have a last-minute business or personal travel need, or your passport has expired, you need a passport quickly. It takes minutes to pose for passport photos, so why does it need to take so long to receive a new or updated passport?

The U.S. government does allow expedited and emergency passports in certain circumstances. If you need to travel within 30 days, you may have your passport expedited by the State Department. If you need a passport plus a visa within 30 days, or you need a passport in less than 14 days, you may qualify for passport expediting services.

How to Get Passport Expedinting

Expedited passport applications are processed within two to three weeks. You must have your passport applications, photos plus, travel itinerary and an extra $60 to cover the rush charge.

If you are sending in an expedited passport request on your own, you must write “expedite” on the mailing envelope. Address the materials to the correct address (which differs from the standard passport processing address). Also, use an express mailing method that you can track for peace of mind, and pay a shipping surcharge.

A reputable passport expediter can take care of all of this for you. All you need to do is complete the secure online application and pay the passport processing fees.

How to Get a Same-Day Passport or Next Day Passport

If you have a travel emergency , the best course of action is to submit your materials to a regional passport agency. While you can do this in person, you may also elect a registered passport expediters to present your application. Regional agencies exist in major metro areas across the U.S. and specialize in processing materials in just 24 to 48 hours.

Expedited passport couriers can handle your urgent passport needs quickly, getting you the fastest turnaround time for your passport application and leaving you precious time to attend to other last-minute travel details. Depending on the case load of the regional agency, a courier may be able to get you same-day passport service.

Are you ready to start with an expedited passport? Applying is quick and easy. Complete the secure online form to get started with a registered passport expediter.

REAL ID Act Compliance Deadline Extended to 2019 [UPDATED]

The Department of Homeland Security has announced that the REAL ID Act’s implementation will be delayed until January 22, 2018. This Act sets enhanced requirements. Requirements that you must meet before obtaining a driver’s license or other state identification card.

The change primarily affects travelers from states that have not yet implement the Act. Anyone not in compliance will be a bar from using their driver’s licenses to pass through TSA checkpoints. This can be as early as this summer. If enforcement were to forward, travelers are must use passports or other forms of federal identification for domestic flights and enter other federal facilities.

REAL ID Act Extension States

Non-Compliant 2019 Extensions
Massachusetts January 10, 2019*
Minnesota March 01, 2019
California January 10, 2019*
Guam January 10, 2019*
Virginia January 10, 2019*
Minnesota March 01, 2019
U.S. Virgin Islands April 01, 2019
Rhode Island May 01, 2019
Alaska June 01, 2019
Montana June 01, 2019
Illinois June 01, 2019
Kentucky August 01, 2019
Missouri  August 01, 2019
Pennsylvania  August 01, 2019
American Samoa October 10, 2019
New Jersey October 10, 2019
Maine October 10, 2019
Oklahoma October 10, 2019
Oregon October 10, 2019

What Does the REAL ID Act Change?

The REAL ID Act sets enhanced standards for the issuance and production of government identification cards including state driver’s license. To be in compliance, states must take additional steps when verifying a recipient’s identity before they can get an identification card. Additionally, each identification card must contain advanced security features, such as holograms, to deter counterfeiting. In addition, a magnetic strip will contain information on the identification card and allow it to be machine-readable.

Who Does the REAL ID Act Affect?

The REAL ID Act is a federal law affecting federal facilities. When enforcement begins, a compliant ID is necessary to enter any federal facility that requires ID including TSA checkpoints, federal prisons, military bases, and other secure facilities. The REAL ID Act does not affect State facilities; however, states may impose similar restrictions on their own.

What if a State Doesn’t Comply With the REAL ID Act?

States are under no obligation to produce identification cards that comply with the REAL ID Act. The standards are only guidelines for what types of IDs are going to be valid in federal facilities.

Starting on January 22, 2018, travelers whose states do not follow REAL ID Act standards or who possess identification cards issued before their state was in compliance will need to produce a secondary form of identification in order to fly.

Starting on October 1, 2020, only identification cards that comply with the REAL ID Act will be acceptable. Residents of states who are not compliant with the Act and those who still possess older, non-compliant IDs will need to present a passport or other acceptable form of federal identification, or they can not travel.

Pay Your Taxes or Lose Your U.S. Passport

IRS PassportIf you owe money to the IRS, you could find the status of your next big international trip in jeopardy. According to a new provision signed into law in December of 2015, a judge is not required to revoke a person’s passport. Even if they owe more than $50,000 in back taxes at any given time. Hence, it is import to pay your taxes.

It is important to note that just because you owe more than $50,000, you will loose your passport. However, the likelihood is high. Now, thanks to this new law, it is easier than ever for this exact scenario to take place. In order to lose your passport, the IRS would need to file a lien. Or, a levy after the account has reached $50,000 or more in size. Anyone who is in danger of losing their passport, will receive a written notice from the IRS. That will be prior to the action taking effect.

This new provision shows that the government is incredibly serious about the millions of delinquent accounts across the country. According to USA Today, the IRS reports that there were more than 12 million such accounts. Accounts that owes a collective $131 billion dollars in 2014 alone. This number includes the taxes that people owe along with interest and any penalties that were continuing to accrue over time.

The new provision is part of the FAST Act highway transportation bill that was signed on December 4, 2015. In addition, to these new provisions about passports, it is now a mandate. The IRS turns over a certain number of unpaid tax accounts to private debt collectors for further processing.

It is also important to note that under the FAST Act, the State Department can deny, revoke or limit the use of a taxpayer’s existing passport if their account has fallen delinquent to the specified degree. They are going to stop issuing passports in general for people who owe this amount of money. They will still take into consideration the certain emergencies and humanitarian reasons that a passport may need one. If a US citizen is out of the country at the time of losing their passport, they can still return home.

Also, important to note these new passport provisions will NOT affect anyone who has an agreement with the IRS to pay their taxes. If they have made an offer in compromise or if the taxpayer has already set up some type of installment agreement in an effort to bring their account to good standing, they would be able to proceed much as they always have.

Passport Denial and Revocation – What Reason a Passport Would be Denied or Revoked?

It can be very difficult to have your U.S. passport denied or worse to have your passport revoked. There are, however, processes available to recover and restore a passport over time, should something limit your ability to possess one. Of course, not all situation is the same. In some cases, individuals can not travel internationally for one reason or another. Traveling outside of the US is a privilege that no one wants to lose, so treat the responsibility with respect.

The United States Department of State determines who is eligible to carry a passport through the application process. Citizens of all kinds must comply with their mechanisms to obtain the legal and valid documentation. Monitoring how it is being used and by which citizens is the aim. This is also the department within the government that can deny or revoke your passport.

Revoking Reasons

If you are concerned with the status of your US passport application. Here is a short list of some issues that may come up:

  • Obtaining a passport that is not legal or is fraudulent is some way
  • Lapsed child-support responsibilities
  • Charges pertaining to drug trafficking
  • Sexual tourism related convictions

If you have had legal issues pertaining to any of the situations mentioned above, you may experience complications with your passport application. A third party service may be able to expedite the process or at least manage the procedure through the proper channels for you. These requirements are in place to protect the safety and reputation of all travelers leaving the country. Remember that while abroad, you are a representative of the US. How you behave is not only a reflection of your own expectation but can affect how others are perceived when traveling in foreign countries as well.