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A passport is an internationally recognized travel document that verifies the identity and nationality of the bearer. A valid passport is required to enter and exit most foreign countries including the United States. Some countries require that a traveler’s U.S. passport be valid at least six months or longer beyond the dates of the trip.
Some countries may allow you to enter with only a birth certificate, or with a birth certificate and a driver’s license. If you are traveling by land or sea, make certain that you can return to the United States with the proof of citizenship that you take with you.
For more information about U.S. passport requirements visit: http://travel.state.gov/content/travel/english.html
Requirements at a glance:
Regulations with regard to vaccination certificates and other health requirements for the various embarkation ports and countries may vary by destination and change from time to time. It is the sole responsibility of the passenger to obtain the necessary and appropriate documents as well as to have them available.
Visas and Entry/Re-entry Permits:
Some countries require additional documents such as Entry/Re-entry permits or Visas.
**Information on entry requirements per country is available at http://travel.state.gov/travel/travel_1744.html or by contacting the appropriate consulate, embassy, or government agency being visited.
With the number of international child custody cases on the rise, several countries have instituted passport requirements to help prevent child abductions. For example, Mexico has a law that requires a child traveling alone, or with only one parent, or in someone else's custody, to carry written, notarized consent from the absent parent or parents. No authorization is needed, if the child travels alone and is in possession of a U.S. passport. A child traveling alone with a birth certificate requires written, notarized authorization from both parents.
How to Apply for a U.S. Passport
Apply for your passport several months before your planned trip, and, if you will need Visas from foreign embassies, allow even more time. Even if you don’t have specific travel plans, but have family living abroad or are waiting to find a bargain trip, it is a good idea to apply as early as possible. Information about applying for a U.S. passport may be found at http://www.travel.state.gov/passport/passport_1738.html.
Reprinted with permissions granted at http://www.travel.state.gov/about/about_4955.html