For those holding US passports, please make sure that you are aware of changes that have taken place within the past two years. Failure to keep abreast of these changes could prove to be quite costly in terms of time and money.
- No more glasses permitted for passport or visa photos. Yes, you read correctly, this announcement was made in October 2016. So, what this means for the majority of individuals who a visually challenged is that you better start practicing you sexy face in the mirror now without those corrective lenses. However, there are some exceptions that can be granted on a case-by-case basis, with medical justification supported by an official note from a licensed doctor.
- No more additional visa pages added to existing passports. As of 31 October 2016, the state.gov web page is still showing that the last time to have new pages was 1 January 2016; however, some governments sources actually show the date of 1 January 2017. So, unless the state department updates its website, I would just assume that the date to add additional pages has passed. If you find yourself needing more pages (keep in mind that some countries not only require you to have 6 months or more time remaining before renewal, but also to have a certain number of visa pages available), you will have to apply for a brand new passport.
- The impact of the Real ID Act was supposed to see a boom in individuals, residing in states with drivers licenses that didn’t comply with federal security requirements, rushing out to obtain passports to ensure they could continue to fly domestically. Well, those individuals are in luck because the act will NOT be enforced next year as previously stated (granted it has been pushed back so many times) because the federal government is not ready to support the effort. As such, those individuals can continue to travel with their drivers licenses until January 2018.
These are the biggest changes to date regarding the procurement and use of passports. But, of course you never know when additional changes will occur. If you carry an american passport, stay abreast of the changes by periodically visiting state.gov. If you passport is up for renewal within the next six months, you may want to get a jump on the action and avoid any delays by tracking the current processing times on the site as well.