On the Fly™ - Editorial Commentary by Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams

August, 2006:  Assure Your 'Freedom to Travel' Now by Applying for Your US Passport Today!

Having a passport is your ticket to personal travel freedom. Less than 20% of US citizens have a passport! If you have any intentions of going outside of US borders in the next 10 years to Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean, Central and South American countries, or on journeys that take you across an ocean, you need to get a passport now in order to come back home! You'll need that passport even if the destination you are visiting doesn't require a passport!

This is the new US regulation which goes into effect on December 31, 2006.

On that date, U.S. citizens, and all other travelers, will be required to present a valid passport for all air and sea travel to or from Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean and Bermuda. The US will require US citizens and foreign visitors to present a passport to enter the US. So if even if you are able to get into a foreign destination without passport, you will not be able to re-enter the US on your return!

Airlines have the responsibility of checking for valid passports for those that they transport because when they make an error and board a person whom they fly to a foreign destination and that person is denied entry to the country they arrive at, the airline is charged with the responsibility of taking them back where they came from at their own cost if the person doesn't have a return ticket. Therefore, if you arrive at an airport check-in counter and do not have the proper ID to enter the destination of the place you are flying to, the airline will deny your boarding.

That can only mean 2 things to you:
1) If you are going to a place in 2007 that does not yet require a passport , a sharp airline check-in agent will not let you fly there since you will not be able to re-enter the US on your return. That would end your trip before it began.

2) If a sloppy airline ticket agent allows you to fly to a destination that does not require a passport, when you get there, you will be denied boarding on your return flight because you don't have the proper ID to enter the US.

No matter how you look at it, the time has come for the 80% of US citizens who do not have passports to get them now! And if you do have a passport, make sure that it is not expiring within 6 months or you will not be allowed to board a plane with that passport! While a passport is good for 10 years, the rules state that you may not leave the country using a passport that expires within 6 months of your departure from the US.

Since so many destinations that never before required a passport, like Barbados and several other Caribbean islands, for instance, now require a valid passport for entry, you can see that this is a growing trend . Using a drivers' license and birth certificate are things of the pass for establishing your citizenship and identification. You need to movtivate yourself to get a passport and the place to start is at your local US Post Office where they can provide you with the forms and instructions.

Below you'll find places to get started with the passport process but if you'd like to speed the process efficiently and take the pain out the do-it-yourself legwork of the getting your passport and any visas you might need for specific destination, try TRAVISA, a company with a long history of fast-tracking the passport and visa process. Visit their website at www.travisa.com for informtion or to generate and email to them or call their closest office toll free at::

Washington D.C.
(800) 222-2589
Mid West
(800) 766-0608
West Coast
(800) 421-5468

Related LInks
The State Department's consular website at www.travel.state.gov

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's website www.dhs.gov

National Passport Information Center toll free at 1-877-4USA-PPT or call toll free: 1-888-874-7793.

Foreign nationals must contact their own governments ' consular offices to obtain passports.

Do not wait!  With the new regulations going into effect 4 months, you can only imagine how busy the US Passport Office will be processing documentation for newcomers to the system and re-issuing about-to-expire passports. Act today to assure that you have the freedom to take that business trip or romantic breakaway when you want to get up and go!

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