Who needs to get a passport? For most people the short answer is you do if you're planning to travel internationally and you're planning to leave inside of the next week or two. But of course, there's nothing that's ever quite that easy.
What is a Passport?
A passport is a travel document that your country issues to make it possible for you to legally leave your country's borders and to be able to return. Citizens of every single nation require one to be able to journey beyond their nation and into another. But there are some exceptions.
For example, citizens of the European Union do not need a passport in order to pass from one country in the European Union to another. And United states citizens usually will not be required to show their passport when they want to travel between nations within the EU either. However you will need one in order to get into one of the EU countries in the first place.
Do US Citizens Need a Passport to Go to Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean?
If you're a US citizen, you are going to have to have a passport more than you ever did before. You've always had to have one if you wanted to go to Europe or Asia or beyond. Nowadays you also need one to be able to take a flight into Canada or Mexico as well as to the Caribbean.
In the past you could get to Canada or Mexico or to a lot of the Caribbean islands and all you required was your birth certificate and substantiation of your identification with something as simple as your driver's license. However things changed dramatically after September 11, 2001.
Now if you want to drive across the US border into Canada or Mexico or if you're on a cruise, you will need either a passport, a passport card or a WHTI-compliant document.
A government-issued Photo Identity, such as a driver's license, together with proof associated with citizenship like a birth certificate could also gain you admittance and return.
If you're taking your children with you – even babies – they will need passports as well.
All passports must be current. You may also need your documents to be valid for anywhere from three to six months after you planned return. It is your responsibility to make sure all your paperwork is in order.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Passport?
It can take at least twenty five days to get a passport. Even if you expedite it and there are no glitches it can take considerably longer than a week. That's because 15 offices in the US are responsible for issuing approximately seven million passports per year.