The Importance of a Passport

A passport is a must for anybody who enjoys international travel, and anybody who plans to go abroad should take the time to obtain one. However, it can also have other benefits as well. It can serve as identification much like a driver's license, it can help you find employment anywhere in the world, and it can make obtaining other forms of identification much easier. In short, it is a convenient all-in-one document that will serve you well no matter what you wish to use it for or where you wish to go.

If you don't have a passport and you aren't sure if you need one, here are a few things you should consider.

Passports are Convenient for Travelers
Perhaps the biggest reason to have a passport is that it makes international travel so convenient. Most countries will allow you to visit if you have a passport, even those that require a birth certificate, driver's license, and proof of American citizenship. A passport contains all of this information in a convenient book form.

No Lost Documents
Because a passport contains all the important information found on birth certificates and other forms of identification, carrying one means that you don't have to always have other official documents with you. Birth certificates and proof of citizenship can be a huge hassle to replace if they are lost or stolen, but a passport is significantly easier to replace.

It Works as a Valid Photo ID
Not only will a passport allow you to travel abroad, but it also works well as a valid photo ID. Most people in the United States have a driver's license, but occasionally people will need an additional form of identification. A passport will serve that purpose, and it is good for ten years if it is issued to those over the age of 16. Those under 16 will have to renew their passport every five years.

It Can Be Used as a Temporary Substitute for a Visa
The Visa Waiver Program allows United States citizens to enter certain countries for a short period of time if they have a valid U.S. passport rather than a visa. This is an agreement between the United States and these other countries based on factors such as security standards, law enforcement, data sharing, and counterterrorism efforts. A passport allows this kind of access to over 100 different countries. Meanwhile, the United States allows this kind of access to citizens from only 36 countries. Since getting a passport is a lot cheaper and less hassle than getting a visa, many people choose to only obtain a passport if they plan to vacation abroad. A passport will allow you to stay in many of these countries for six months, more than long enough for most vacations.

As you can see, having a passport carries a lot of benefits for United States citizens. There are practically no drawbacks to obtaining one, aside from their cost. For most people over the age of 16, a passport will cost around $140. Those who wish to expedite the process and get their passport in two weeks can pay an extra $60. That is a lot of money for some people, but it is still a small price to pay for such a convenient, multi-purpose document.
 About the author:
This article was contributed by Jim Martinez, travel planner and veteran jetsetter. For quick online passport renewal, Jim recommends checking out Flying Passport.

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