I went to get my new tags for my license plates, because I’ll be gone on my birthday. My luck, I will get pulled over on my way home from the airport for expired tags 🙁 I was at the BMV getting my new tags and the woman took a look at my license an said, “You know this expires soon?”
I had no idea, :0 I’m so glad she noticed or I may have had a problem on my trip, although I do have my passport. She also told me the new license rules about flying, which I had no clue about either. So, I guarantee some of you may not and I wanted to share the info. I am including several things, some good, some frustrating, you def need to know before you go.
The Real ID Act is about to be a real pain for air travelers. The law was passed by Congress in 2005 in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, in hopes of establishing minimum standards for driver’s licenses and identification cards. The idea is that it would prevent identity theft and increase national safety. Starting October 1, 2020, anyone who resides in the United States, even if they’re flying domestically or to U.S. territories, will need Real ID identification to pass through TSA security checkpoints at airports.
Not all states are compliant yet. Eventually, they will be. If you want to see where your state stands on the Real ID rollout, the DHS’s website has a clickable map. (U.S. passports are already compliant.)
To get your Real ID you’ll have to physically go to a DMV office with their identification documents—such as a birth certificate and passport. They have a whole list they’ll give you. It’s a pain. I had to go on three separate occasions to finally have it all. Many travel advisors are saying the same thing: Get your paperwork in now, because 2020 is coming sooner than you think and no one wants to buy a ticket, pack, and then drive to the airport, just to be turned away at the gate.
Since passports are always good.
How do I Get a Passport?
To get a passport, American citizens have two options. The first is to apply by mail and the second is to apply in person. If you are a first-time passport applicant, then you must apply in person. If you have previously had a passport, you may be able to apply by mail, however, mail applications come with several other requirements, so please be sure to check ahead of time. And it takes time to receive them, so don’t wait until the last minutes. You’ll need months.
Passport applications will require you to fill out forms (there are different forms depending on whether you are applying in person or by mail) as well as proof of US Citizenship, current ID, photocopies of current ID and proof of citizenship, as well as the applicable fees. If you are applying by mail, you will also need to include your last passport in your application package.
Individuals applying for a passport should know that there are a few different fees associated with the passport application. Those who are first-time applicants will have additional fees. The breakdown of these fees, as well as all other requirements for applying for an American passport, can be found online at: travel.state.gov
One of the most important things to know is that your passport expiration date isn’t exactly correct. Most countries will require American visitors to have minimum three, but normally at least six months validity on their passport when they travel. So, if your passport expires in March of 2019 you won’t be able to travel with it past October 2018. Some countries are a little more lenient, however, the best practice is just to assume that you can’t travel with your passport during the last six months of its validation period.
Another important thing to note that your passport won’t always be everything you need to travel abroad. While the American passport is quite strong compared to others around the world, you may still need a visa before entering certain countries. This is up to you to figure out as some visas need to be applied for well in advance and may only be good for so long. The best way to find out if you do need a visa to visit your destination of choice is to get in touch with the embassy or consulate who can provide you with the information and, if necessary, the required paperwork.
Finally, you need to keep an eye on the pages of your passport. More accurately; how many blank pages you have. There are a few countries that will require you to have two-four blank pages in your passport before you enter the country. Again, this is something you can find out from the embassy or consulate of your chosen destination.
I also wanted to get my Global Entry validation, but he said due to the government shutdown it may take until at least April. I should get my paperwork in soon tho to start the process. Paperwork in, let the wait begin. All my friends say it is the best thing ever. You can start the process online at Ttp.cbp.dhs.gov.
Global Entry is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. Members enter the United States through automatic kiosks at select airports.
Program members proceed to Global Entry kiosks at the airport, present their machine-readable passport or U.S. permanent resident card, place their fingerprints on the scanner for fingerprint verification and complete a customs declaration. The kiosk issues the traveler a transaction receipt and directs the traveler to baggage claim and the exit.
Travelers must be pre-approved for the Global Entry program. All applicants undergo a rigorous background check and in-person interview before enrollment.
While Global Entry’s goal is to speed travelers through the process, members may still be selected for further examination when entering the United States. Any violation of the program’s terms and conditions will result in the appropriate enforcement action and termination of the traveler’s membership privileges.
It sure beats waiting in the long customs lines and then having every single item searched.
Hopefully this makes the pre-travel prep a little less stressful 🙂