Is your U.S. Passport Secure with the RFID Chip?

Some people are very skeptical when it comes to technology. And now, RFID chip is in your passport for security reasons. You may be thinking or asking yourself, what is RFID? Well, RFID or radio frequency identification is the new technology that stores your information. To retrieve the data, the chip is scanned, and the information is displayed on a screen. It was designed to help with identity fraud. Since 2007, U.S. passports, includes adult and child passport, started using RFID chips.

How does RFID Chip work?

RFID is a microchip embedded in the front cover of your passport. Your data like your full name, address, and biometrics are programmed on the chip. By having the chip, it makes the screening process much faster when you are at the airport. The passport book front cover must be open for the microchip to be scanned. The agent can then look at the information and then compare the photo displayed with the person in front of him or her.

A closed book cannot be scanned. For this reason, it makes it difficult for someone with an RFID scanner to scan a passport if it is tuck away or in your pocket. If your information were to get into some else hands, they wouldn’t be able to do much with it since it is limited. Other documents use the same technology with much more personal data stored in them.

Credit and Debit Cards use RFID Chips

In the last two years, many department stores upgraded their checkout systems to read cards for payment. Some, but just a few, still allow swiping but most have the RFID reader. It is how information is transfer for payment. So, passports are not the only document that uses this technology.

Other cards that have the RFID or microchip are hotel room keys, company IDs, and even school students’ IDs. The U.S. is not the only country that uses this technology, but over 80 countries around the world do as well. So, it is more common than you think and is trusted by governments and businesses around the world.

Can You remove the RFID Chip?

If you remove the chip from your passport, you are making it invalid. The chip is part of the document, and if removed, it makes not functional. All issued U.S. passport after 2007 will have the RFID chip. If you have one that was issued before 2007, it will be replaced with a passport with the chip. Once you do a passport renewal, you will have the new technology.

Like a passport, all credit and debit cards will have the microchip embedded in them. So, if you go somewhere that uses the chip to process a payment, you will not have any problem using your card.

How-to Instructions for Obtaining a Visa for Vietnam in 2019

All U.S. citizens traveling to Viet Nam will need a visa for entry. Anyone can get a Viet Nam visa in a variety of ways. The country offers visas for one and multiple entrances to tourist and business applicants. The stay in the country will vary from one month to a year. Each Viet Nam visa type will have different prices due to the length of time you plan to remain in the country.

U.S. Citizens Requirements for a Viet Nam Visa

Before planning to apply for a Viet Nam visa, make sure you have a valid passport. A valid passport to enter Viet Nam must have at least six-month validity. If less, you will be denied entry. Also, the passport must have two blank pages to get the visa stamp and seal. Not meeting these requirements will result with a refusal for entry.

How to Get a Viet Nam Visa?

To get a Viet Nam E-visa, applicants can apply online. To apply online, complete the form, pay the fee, and get the approval letter. The process usually takes three days after the Viet Nam Immigration Department receives the application. With the approval letter, the visa can be stamped at any Viet Nam international airports. Present the letter at any of these airports for entry: Ha Noi, Da Nang, Ho Chi Minh, and Nha Trang.

You can also apply in person or by mail at the Embassy of Viet Nam in Washington. The Embassy does not require an appointment and opens Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm and 2:00 pm to 4:30 pm.

Before going to the Embassy, make sure you complete and print the online application. If you are unable to complete the form online, print it and complete manually. Make sure the passport has at least six-month validity and two blank pages. Also, have a color passport size photo taken in the last three months. Acceptable payments are by credit card, money order, cashier’s check, and company check payable to “EMBASSY OF VIET NAM.”

By mail, send all your documents to:

Embassy of Viet Nam

1233 20th Street NW, Suite 400

Washington, D.C. 20036

Click here to get the visa types.

Can You Use a Valid Visa with an Expired Passport

If you are a frequent traveler to countries that require a visa, this is an article for you. It will also help anyone who will obtain a visa that may outlive their passport. There are a few countries that offer visas valid for up to ten years. A U.S. adult passport is valid for ten years and getting a visa with ten years validity will surely remain valid after the passport expires. So, what do you do if your expired passport has a valid visa?

Expired Passport & Valid Visa

In most instances, if you have an expired passport, your valid visa becomes invalid or expired as well. We all know countries will not accept an expired passport for entry. Therefore, most of us are likely not to travel with an old passport. Most countries require three or six months of validity on a passport before admission is granted.

However, some countries will make an exception for tourist and business visitors with a visa valid for ten years that can be used for multiple entries. If you have such visa type, contact the country’s embassy or consulate to verify you can travel with your expired passport before going. You don’t want to go thousands of miles to be turned away because of your expired passport and assuming your visa is still valid.

Countries with Exceptions

Three countries will allow visitors to use their valid visa in an expired passport. However, if you are applying for a ten-year visa and your passport has a few years, you may get a shorter time visa than the ten-year.

Brazil

Brazil is what of the countries that allow visitors with a tourist or business visa to enter with an expired passport. There are other visa types with a shorter time, so these types are likely to expire before the passport.

Having a visa that can be used for multiple entries still has restrictions on how long you can stay. For Brazil visa, you can stay up to 90 days on each entry or up to 180 days in one year. To gain entry with an expired passport, you must have your new and the old passport with the visa when you travel. Brazil will still accept the visa as long as it is still valid.

India

India is another country that issues 10-year visas. U.S. citizens will get the long term visa when they visit as a tourist. However, business travelers don’t necessarily get long-term visas unless they apply for it. India gives one, five, and ten-year visas to applicants.

Similar to Brazil, India will accept a valid visa in an expired passport. However, you must have two passports, a valid one and the expired one with the visa. You would have another option if your passport expired. You can apply for a visa transfer to the new passport. If you do, you must submit the application, passport, photo, and all the other documents.

China

Like Brazil and India, you can use your visa until it expires to enter China. You must carry both passports to gain entry. However, China has one rule that applies to an expired passport. Your personal information must be the same in both passports. That is, your name should be the same. So, if you get a new passport with a name change, you cannot use the visa in the old passport even if it is valid.

When you apply and receive a Chinese visa, the information about the name change is printed next to the visa. So, if you change your name, you must apply for a new visa.

Other Countries

Many of the other countries will not allow visitors to use a  valid visa in a passport expired. In most cases, you must apply for a new visa or a visa transfer if it is possible. The best thing to do is call the country’s embassy or consulate you got the visa from and inquire about their policies. You can also visit the embassy or consulate website for more information.

What is Considered a Damaged Passport?

A passport can be damaged as a result of many factors. If the damage was from water, a tear, unofficial markings, missing visa pages, or a hole punch, you must replace the passport. Normal wear and tear will not necessarily mean you need to change your document as long as there is no damage to the photograph or the chip found inside the book. If you try to use a damaged passport, the State Department can confiscate it or send you a written notice to replace it.

When to Replace a Damaged Passport

It is best to replace a damaged passport when there are visible damages to the book. The damages could be to the covers or inside. If pages are torn or missing, the letters on the pages are fading due to water exposure, or the RFID chip is damaged. There could be other damages that are not visible to the eyes. So, if you think you should replace your damaged passport, go ahead and apply for a replacement.

So, you should replace your damaged passport if:

  • It is torn an any way
  • The binder is loose or is frayed
  • Faded pages because of water exposure
  • The RFID chip is damaged

Documents To Replace a Damaged Passport

When you apply to replace a damaged passport, use the list on the application form to gather the supporting materials. You must also submit the damaged passport with the application. So, you must provide Form DS-11, Application for a New Passport and:

  • The damaged passport
  • A signed statement explaining the damaged document
  • Passport size photo
  • Proof of identity
  • Proof of citizenship
  • Application fees

To submit the documents, you can visit any acceptance facility in your county.

Submitting Your Passport Application

You can submit your papers at a post office, county clerk’s office, or a public library. You have two options for processing. The standard processing takes 4-6 weeks then you get a new passport in the mail. The next choice is expediting and takes 2-3 weeks. It will cost an extra $60. You will also get the document in the mail after processing.

If you have an emergency and you must travel sooner than two weeks, you can hire a private expeditor or visit a regional agency. Both can get you a passport in 24 hours if necessary. You must pay for the service and the cost of the passport.

Protect Your New Passport

Now that you have your new document, you should shore it in a safe and secure place. Avoid any damages so that you don’t need to get another replacement. Keep in mind an adult passport is valid for ten years and a minor for five years. So, you will have it for a while before you need to replace it. Protect it, and you may have it for its entire life.

What should I do if my baby is born abroad?

If you are a U.S. citizen and your child was born abroad, you must apply for a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) as soon as possible. You can contact the U.S. embassy or consulate to report the child is a U.S. citizen and apply for the CRBA and a passport at the same time. Once the embassy or consulate determines the child is a U.S. citizen, the officer will approve the CRBA application, and the Department of State will issue Form FS-420 in the child’s name.

Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA, or Form FS-240)

To apply for the CRBA, you must visit a U.S. embassy or consulate in person to complete the application. The CRBA of a U.S. citizen is only given to minors under the age of 18. Others who are over 18 years must apply for a Certificate of Citizenship since they are not eligible for a CRBA.

Once before you were able to get an original copy of the CRBA at an embassy or consulate but not anymore. To prevent fraudulent activities in regards to the CRBA, copies are no longer given at the embassy or consulate you may visit. The document is printed only in the U.S.

If your child was born in one of the U.S. territories, he or she may have acquired U.S. citizenship or U.S. nationality at birth but are not qualify for a CRBA. You are qualified for the CRBA if you were born in a country other than a U.S. territory.

Applying For a U.S. Passport

To apply for a minor passport, you must complete the application form, provide supporting documents, and pay the fee. Since you are applying for a minor, most of the necessary documents must come from you. The form to complete is DS-11, Application for a New Passport. The form has a list of all the supporting documents you must submit with the application.

The additional documents include:

  • Proof of citizenship:
    • Birth Certificate
    • Consular Report of Birth Abroad
  • Proof of Identity
    • Photo ID (driver’s license, government-issued ID, military ID)
  • Passport size photo
  • Application Fee

After submitting all the necessary documents and fees, you can now wait to receive your child passport. Keep in mind that anyone who is returning to the U.S. needs a passport to enter or exit. The passport will show proof of citizenship and identity for your child.

What to do if my Passport is Lost or Stolen?

Whether you are preparing for a trip or ready to return from one and your worst nightmare comes to fruition. Your passport is nowhere to be found. You recall the last place you saw it or so you think. However, it is not there now, and panic starts setting in. You start asking yourself many questions, and you don’t have a sound answer. Should you take the trip? Can I go home without a passport? Keep reading; this will give you solutions to your dilemma.

What You Should Do First

The moment you realize your document is missing, you should contact the State Department by calling the toll-free number at 1-202-647-4000. You should call the number if you are in the U.S. or any U.S. territories. If you are abroad and unable to call the number, try and get in contact with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country you are visiting.

Notifying the authorities will put a hold on the lost or stolen document. It will prevent anyone who may have your passport and try to use it from doing so. Once you report your passport lost or stolen and you get it back, you cannot use it again. It will be invalid even though it had your information and was yours.

Apply For a Replacement Passport

Now that the authorities are aware of your lost or stolen passport, you can apply for a new one. To apply, you must complete two forms. The forms are DS-64 and DS-11. DS-64 is the Lost or Stolen Passport Replacement Form, and DS-11 is Application for a New Passport.

Along with both forms, you must provide supporting documents. The supporting documents are:

  • Proof of identity:
    • Photo ID
    • Birth Certificate
    • Naturalization Certificate
  • Passport Size Photo
  • Application Fee

Application Process

To get your lost or stolen passport replacement, you can submit the documents at an acceptance facility. The most convenient place is the post office. Other locations include county clerk’s offices, courthouses, and public libraries. The time frame for processing at the post office is 4-6 weeks. It is the regular processing time. However, if you need it sooner, the expedited process is available. With it, you can have your new passport in 2-3 weeks.

Two other options can get you a passport in 24 hours. The two options that can make this possible are a regional agency or a private expeditor. However, you must provide proof of travel and pay a hefty fee for the service.

Keeping Your Passport in a Safe Place

Once you receive your new document, consider keeping it in a safe place. If you have a safe or any storage that you can access easily, you should keep your passport in it. When you are traveling, have your document with you if necessary. Otherwise, leave it at the hotel in the safe or somewhere with a lock and key. The main idea is to prevent your document from becoming lost or stolen.

What To Do If My Name Change?

After changing your name legally, you should create a checklist of all the places and people you must inform. A name change is a big deal, and it should be taken that way. The first thing to do is to gather all the documents that will provide proof of your name change. These documents must be original or notarized copies if necessary. Put them all together so, on the day of your quest; you will find it all to start the name change process.

Where to Start with a Name Change?

There are many places you must notify of a name change. Start on your list with the most important to the least. Keep in mind that all the places on the list must be informed. Starting with the most important will help when you go to the least because some places will check with some of the most important ones for verification.

So, start with:

  • Government Agencies
    • Social Security Administration
    • Department of Motor Vehicles
    • Voter Registration
    • State Department (for your passport)
  • Work & Employer
    • Human Resources
    • Unions & Professional Organizations
    • Personal Professional Website
  • Banks
    • Checking Accounts
    • Savings & Money Market Accounts
    • Credit Cards
    • Assets such as property titles, deeds, trust
    • Mortgage & Loans Companies
    • Investments Accounts like IRAs & 401ks
  • Home
    • Homeowners or renters insurance
    • Landlord
    • Homeowners association or management agency
    • Utilities like electric, gas, water, telephone, internet, and cable
  • Medical
    • Doctors, dentist, therapists, and counselors
  • Other Legal Documents
    • Health proxy
    • Will
  • Social Media
    • Facebook
    • Twitter
    • Instagram
    • LinkedIn

Once you complete the list, you can wait for the changes to happen. When you visit the DMV, you can get a new driver’s license or ID you can use for identity verification. It will help when making changes to the other documents.

How to do a Name Change on a Passport

To do a name change for a passport, submit a name change form, DS-5504, to the State Department. Also, you must provide your current passport (if you have one), a passport size photo, proof of name change, and fee.

You can apply by routine processing which takes 4-6 weeks. Expedited processing is also available and will take 2-3 weeks for processing. A private expeditor or a regional agency can get you a passport in 24 hours if you have an emergency. Proof of travel is necessary for the 24-hour service.

What is the Difference Between a Passport and a Visa?

To travel outside the U.S. you will need a passport. A passport is a must since it is use for identification and citizenship. However, some countries require a visa as well for entry. Since both are traveling documents, there is a big difference between both. In this article, we will discuss the purpose and differences between both documents. But before we do, what is a passport? What is a visa? How do we know there differences between each and when to use them?

What is a Passport?

A passport is issued to a country’s citizen for international travel and identification. It comes in the shape of a book or a card. The book contains pages which are use for official purposes, like a visa. Dates of entry and exits are also stamp on the book pages. Apart from entering another country, It is also used for entry back into the country of citizenship. A passport book includes the person’s photo, name, date of birth, gender, and physical characteristics.

A passport card is not accepted in every country like the passport book even though it serves the same purposes. Only countries like Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, and the Caribbean accepts a passport card as identification. The card contains the same information as a passport, however, there is not space for stamps.

What is a Visa?

A visa is an endorsement placed in a passport that grants the holder permission to enter, leave, or stay for a specific time. There are different types of visas but the most common types are tourist, student, work, and transit visas. Some countries use single entry visas while others issue multiple entry visas. For some countries, you must apply for the a visa way in advance of your trip. Others will give you the visa the point of entry.

Applying for a Passport

You must complete the appropriate application form when you apply for a passport. New applicants will use Form DS-11. The form is use for a minor or adult passport. To renew a passport, complete and submit Form DS-82. Any application must include supporting documents.

You can submit your documents and fees to any acceptance facilities. Acceptance facilities include the post office, clerk of court’s office, public library, and a regional agency. The process takes 4-6 weeks but expedited processing is also available. Once the is over, you will get your new passport in the mail. Two weeks, you will get any original document you submit with the application.

Applying for a Visa

Each country has its rules and regulations when it comes to applying for a visa. To get all the information, visit the country’s Embassy or Consulate website. Most application can be done online and submit at the same time. You must pay the fee online with a credit or debit card.

Some embassies will accept walk ins or appointments to apply for a visa in person. The process is for visas that you must apply in advance of the trip. For others that issue the visa at a point of entry, you must apply when you are there.

Overall

So, if you have a passport it is valid for two reasons, for identification and provide proof of citizenship. For countries that do not require a visa for entry, a passport will be suffice for entry.

However, if a visa is required, then a passport will not gain you entrance. You must obtain the proper visa for entry. If you have the wrong visa, even though you have a visa, you will be denied entry.

So, do your research before you book your trip. Make sure you have a passport with enough validity and if you need a visa, apply in advance to avoid any problems. If you get the visa at entry, then you can only wait for the day of your trip to get it.

How Long is a Passport Book Valid?

A passport book is a document used for identification purposes when traveling abroad. It is accepted at all border crossings, regardless if you will travel by land, air, or sea. You can apply for a passport book for a minor or an adult. A passport validity will vary for an adult or a minor. Also, when applying the cost will be different for a minor and an adult. One reason for the difference in cost is the length of time each passport book is valid.

Adult Passport Book

Anyone 16 years and over can apply for an adult passport book. An adult passport book is valid for ten years every time you apply for one. However, there is a temporary passport issued for special circumstances that are valid for only two years.

If you lost your passport or it was stolen while on a trip, the U.S. Embassy or Consulate will issue a temporary passport book so you can travel back home. Once you are home, you can apply for a replacement passport.

The cost for an adult passport book differs for a first-time applicant and a passport renewal. You will submit fewer documents for a renewal when compared to applying for the first time.

Child Passport Book

A child or minor is anyone 15 years and younger. Regardless of the child’s age, a passport book is necessary for traveling abroad. A minor passport book is valid for five years. Unlike an adult passport, you cannot renew a minor passport. When the passport expires, you must reapply for a new passport again.

Since the application process can take 4-6 weeks, you can apply for an adult passport if the minor 16th birthday is within the process time. The passport will be valid for a longer time as an adult than it is for a minor.

Passport Book Renewal

Only and adult can renew a passport book and not a child. If the child is still under 15 years at the time his or her passport expires, the parents or guardians must apply for a new passport. The cost for the new passport will not change unlike an adult reapplying to renew an expired passport.When you apply for an adult passport book, it will be valid for 10 years. A minor passport book is valid for 5 years. The passport validity will remain the same when you apply for a passport. The only thing changes is an adult passport renewal cost. It will be less because the execution fee is exempt.

Minor & Adult Passport Book Validity & Cost

From the date a passport book was issued, it will expire five years later for a minor and ten years for an adult. Here is a table with details for a passport book:

Passport Book Applicant + Execution Fee Renewal Fee Validity
Minor (15 years and younger) $80 + $35 = $115 $115 5 years
Adult (16 years and older) $110 + $35 = $145 $110 10 years
Passport Card
Minor $15 + $35 = $50 $50 5 years
Adult $30 + $ 35 = $65 $30 10 years