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What you need to know about your passport.

You’ve made your travel plans and you’ve checked your passport, which is valid for another five months. You relax because you’re in good shape, right?

Well, maybe not. Many countries require U.S. passports to be valid for at least six months after you return home from your trip. It’s not unknown for international travelers to be denied entrance to a country while already traveling or to be turned away by an airline at the time of check-in.

Three steps to take before you go

Give yourself the best chance of seamless international travel by following these three guidelines.

Check your passport’s condition and expiration

Make sure to check your own as well as every traveling family member’s passport – an adult passport is valid for 10 years, but a child’s passport is only valid for five years. It’s also important to know that, even if your passport has enough length in validity, some countries require that it contain at least two blank pages.

Give yourself enough time to apply or renew

The U.S. State Department recommends you apply for or renew your passport at least two months before your scheduled departure.  Expedited delivery is available, but it costs more. You can apply in person or by mail.

Make copies of all passports

Make two photocopies of each passport. Leave one set at home with family or friends, and bring the other with you, but keep it separate from your physical passport. For all passport instructions, visit the U.S. Passports & International Travel site.

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