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Passport Insights: When to Carry Them and New Renewal Option

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Easier Passport Renewals are Here: A New Online Portal Opens for U.S. Citizens

Renewing your expired or soon-to-expire U.S. passport just got a whole lot simpler.

The State Department has launched a beta version of its online passport renewal portal, aimed at streamlining the process for eligible travelers. This initiative is designed to expedite processing, alleviating some of the issues faced last summer.

However, this isn’t a complete rollout. Officials will accept a limited number of applicants each day, so travelers can still renew their passports via mail if needed.

To qualify for online renewal, travelers must be U.S. citizens and residents aged 25 or older, who already possess a passport with 10-year validity. Important eligibility criteria include not requesting any changes to their name, gender, date of birth, or place of birth.

Additionally, your passport must have been issued within the last nine to 15 years.

Travelers should not plan any international travel for at least eight weeks from the date they submit their application. Payments must be made via credit card, debit card, or ACH, and a digital passport photo in JPEG format must be uploaded.

Moreover, the current passport cannot be lost, stolen, or damaged.

There isn’t a set timeline for when this beta rollout might become a permanent option with broader processing capabilities.

This is a such an improved option for renewing passports so check it out if you fit the criteria:

Carrying Your Passport: When to Take It and When to Leave It

Travelers often wonder whether they should carry their passport or leave it safely locked away once they arrive at their destination. The decision can significantly impact your travel security and convenience. Here’s a detailed guide to help you determine when to carry your passport and when to leave it in your room safe.

When to Carry Your Passport:

  • Crossing Borders: Always have your passport with you when crossing international borders, even if it’s just for a short trip to a neighboring country. Always have your passport in a secure but easily reached location when traveling by plane, train, or by road.
  • Identification Needs: In certain countries, you must show your passport for various purposes, such as checking into hotels, making significant purchases, or if authorities request it. Authorities in Rome seem to be doing more passport checks lately. And when I treated myself to a gift at the Chanel store in Marseilles, they required my passport in order to get the VAT tax discount on my purchase. In these cases, you’ll need to have your passport on hand.
  • Consular Services: If you have to visit the embassy or consulate for any reason, make sure to bring your passport.
  • Currency Exchange: Some official currency exchange services require a passport to exchange money, so carry it if you plan to use these services.
  • High-Risk Locations: In countries with strict law enforcement or political instability, it’s advisable to keep your passport with you for safety reasons.

When to Leave Your Passport in Your Room Safe:

  • Secure Lodgings: If you’re staying at a reputable hotel or cruise ship with a dependable in-room safe, it’s generally safe to leave your passport there. Ensure that the safe is secure and locked properly.
  • Local Sightseeing and Day Trips: For daily activities and local excursions, it’s usually safer to leave your passport locked up. Carry a photocopy of your passport along with a secondary ID like your driver’s license.
  • Crowded Areas: In places known for pickpocketing or large crowds, the risk of theft is higher. Use a money belt or neck wallet if you feel the need to carry your passport, but leaving it securely locked up is often best.
  • Cruise Ship Shore Excursions: Typically, it’s safer to leave your passport in the cabin safe and carry a photocopy along with your cruise ship ID card when disembarking at different ports, unless the port specifically requires the original passport.

Extra Tips:

  • Photocopies and Digital Backups: Always travel with a few physical copies of your passport’s main page. Store one in your luggage, one in your day bag, and keep digital copies securely on a cloud service or email them to yourself.
  • Emergency Contact: Be aware of where the nearest embassy or consulate is located in your travel destination. Keep their contact information readily available in case of an emergency.
  • Secondary Identification: Alongside a photocopy of your passport, carry another form of identification like your driver’s license.
  • Protective Gear: If you need to carry your passport, use a money belt, neck wallet, or a secure zippered bag kept close to your body to minimize the risk of theft.


Depending on your travel scenario and the security of your accommodations, whether to carry your passport or lock it away can vary. Being well-prepared with photocopies and understanding when it’s necessary to carry your passport can help you stay safe and worry-free during your travels.