Passports are a must now when traveling anywhere outside of the United States. I remember the time when I zip over the border to Canada or Mexico and all you needed was a US Driver’s License, not anymore. Here are some important things to remember about your passport to be sure you are ready to travel:
1.) Your passport must be valid at least six months after your return to the US from your trip. While this is the rule for many countries for your entry with a passport, it is more important than the US Border Agents want those six months as well. Basically, your passport is good for 9 years and 6 months!
2.) Be sure the name on your ticket matches exactly how your name is on your passport. Your ticketed name and your passport information will be sent to be checked on the government’s “no-fly” list.
3.) If you travel internationally a lot, please be sure to always have at least two empty pages in your passport for inbound and exit stamps from the Immigration agent for the country you are visiting. This goes the same for any in-passport visas you will need to have. If you have few empty pages in your passport, time to have extra pages put into your passport if your passport has a few years left.
4.) Put your passport in a plain cover so that no one knows it is a passport and to protect the passport. I witnessed a US Immigration agent grill a man at the border why his passport was so torn up and not well kept. Your passport is representative of your country’s status and border agents take this seriously.
Visas are either given to you upon arrival into the country (this is the stamp I mentioned in #3) or put it into your passport.
There is a third way and that is an electronic visa. Australia has electronic visas that you process and purchase online. All US citizens traveling to Australia must have one of these electronic visas before departure from the US for Australia. It comes up in your flight information at check-in. If you do not have it, you will not travel.
All the other countries in the South Pacific allow you to arrive without a visa purchased beforehand if you are a tourist. You will be granted a limited-time visa upon arrival. Your passport must be valid for six months after departure from the country as mentioned in #1.