Don't Make These Top 5 Passport Mistakes

These common mishaps could leave you stranded.

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You’ve booked the perfect international vacation. Maybe you’re heading to a tropical beach locale where the cool blue water pairs perfectly with your umbrella drink. Or you want to dive into history with the landmarks and museums in Europe. No matter where you’re heading, one thing is for sure: Without a valid passport, there’s no way you’re getting to your desired destination.

Make sure you’re able to cross the border with our list of five passport mistakes to avoid.

 Wildlife Walks in Australia

Wildlife Walks in Australia

Photo by: Murray River Walk

Murray River Walk

Not Checking Your Passport Expiration Date

This is a no-brainer, but there’s a caveat here: If your passport is going to expire in six months or less, you may not be able to enter the country you’re trying to visit. Not every country requires a passport valid for six months or more, but of course it’s much easier to renew your passport than to take the chance.

Waiting Too Long to Apply

Make sure you’ve got enough time to actually receive the new one in the mail. For the regular service, it can take an average of six weeks to receive your passport after you fill out your application. If you need it sooner than that, expedited service takes about three weeks – plus, an extra $60 fee.

In a serious rush? Try the expedited at agency service where you can apply at one of 28 Department of State passport agencies around the country to get your passport in eight business days. Keep in mind, however, that for this service you must prove that you need a passport this quickly to apply at an agency. This service also requires you to pay that extra expedition fee.

Filling Out the Form Carelessly

Make a mistake on your passport application and you’ll have to apply for a corrected passport. Whether it’s a spelling error, the wrong gender or place of birth, you’ll need to make the revisions before you try to get on an international flight. And even if you didn’t make the mistake (thanks a lot, printing errors), you’ll still need to get it corrected. The upside? The process is free. You’ll just need a DS-5504 form that you can either mail in or fill out online.

Not Correcting Your Name After a Change

If you recently changed your name, don’t forget to apply that change to your passport as well. You might be able to do this for free with the DS-5504 form, but only if it’s been less than a year since your passport was issued. Otherwise, you need to use the passport renewal form (DS-82) and turn in a color passport photo, an official document showing your name change and your current passport (plus the fees that go along with it). Though do make sure you’re eligible for the DS-82 form.

Having Too Many Stamps

Just having a valid passport may not be enough. If you’re a frequent world traveler (I’m jealous), be aware that some countries require you to have at least two to four blank pages in your passport.

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