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.


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

What Can Deny Your Passport Application From Getting Approved?

If you wish to travel abroad, you will need a passport. The process starts with applying for your U.S. passport from the State Department. Not every passport application gets process. There are specific reasons that the State Department will deny your application. However, there are exceptions to the rules that may still allow you to get your travel document. If you want to know why your application could get denied, continue to read this article.

Reasons to Deny Your Passport Application

The U.S. State Department will deny a passport application for many reasons. These reasons derived from extreme circumstances. However, there is still a chance of getting a passport even after your passport application was denied.

Here are some reasons a passport application gets deny:

  • Drug Offenses
  • Crimes or Felonies
  • Child Support
  • Federal Loans & Debts
  • Minors & Incompetents

Drug Offenses

If you are convicted of a federal or state drug felony, your application gets denied. Also, if you use a passport to cross an international border and commit a drug offense, your application gets rejected. Some misdemeanor drug offenses can also lead to an application getting rejected. However, if you served your time and not on parole, you may be able to get a passport but only if the State Department approves it.

Crimes or Felonies

Your application will get denied if you have a warrant against you if you are on parole or probation. Also, if the court has a no travel restriction on you. Crimes that include sexual offenses will deny your passport application. The U.S. State Department will reject any application if the applicant has a warrant for his arrest issued by a foreign country and seeks extradition.

Child Support

Any person who owes more than $2,500 in child support will not get a passport. Before you apply, contact the state agency to arrange payments for the arrears. Once the agreement is made, the agency then contacts the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). The DHHS removes your name from its list of arrears and then inform the State Department. At this point, you should start the passport application process.

Federal Loans & Debts

If you received a loan from the government, you must repay it. Regardless of the type of loan, or the reason for the loan, you must repay to avoid your default. If the loan becomes outstanding, when you apply for a passport it will get denied. There are ways you can make arrangements to pay the loan, arrange a payment method to avoid the repercussions that will follow.

Minors & Incompetents

The State Department requires both parents or guardians to be present when submitting a passport application for a child. If both are not present, then a notarized consent form must accompany the documents. One reason for the presence of both parents is to avoid abductions by noncustodial parents as a result of custody disputes. Individuals who are declared incompetent by the court or who are in a mental institution cannot get a passport. In both circumstances, a passport application gets denied.

A Minor Traveling to Canada Needs Proper Documentation

Although Canada is our neighbor, it does not mean traveling to the country to exclude anyone, especially with a minor, form entering without proper documentation. Anyone going with a child to Canada must have the appropriate documents to come and leave. Without the proper papers, the child and parent may not get permission to enter. So, before you plan your trip or take off, get the facts to avoid any delays going to Canada.

Traveling by Land or Sea

A parent or guardian going with a minor to Canada by land or sea can present a passport card instead of a passport. Other acceptable documents are a driver’s license or a FAST card. If you are going to Canada on a cruise, the childbirth certificate or a naturalization certificate can be used for identification. If you both have a passport, you will avoid any difficulties you may encounter using other documents.

Traveling by Air

Traveling by air may be the fastest way of getting to Canada, however, to enter you must provide proof of citizenship and identity. Canadian immigration will accept a valid U.S. passport, passport card, or NEXUS card. A minor can travel with a birth certificate or naturalization certificate. For military personnel, a military ID or a U.S. Mariner document will work. Again, having a valid U.S. passport will eliminate most issues you may encounter using another form of identification.

Affidavit of Consent

A parent or guardian traveling with a minor must have a notarized affidavit of consent from the other parent or guardian. The document must include all minors name, both parents name, trip dates and contact information for both parents/guardians. Without the affidavit of consent, both child and parent may be subject to additional security procedures.

Special Circumstances

There are special circumstances when a minor can enter Canada with only one parent and without the consent of the other. For you to fall into this category, you must provide proof of the absent parent. For instance, a divorced parent can show a Divorce Decree Certificate or a court order. If one parent is deceased, a copy of the death certificate is sufficed.

For minors going on a school trip or other organized tours, they can present a birth certificate at the port of entry. Any minor with a criminal record must contact the Citizenship and Immigration Canada. You may require special permission for admission. It is better to notify the authorities before going and getting an entry denial.

Do I Need a Passport to Cross the Border?

A U.S. passport is accepted at all crossings; whether it is by land, sea, or air. Some countries may not require a passport for entry. Nevertheless, it is best to have a valid passport to travel with. Where a passport is not necessary; you can use a passport card or government-issued ID. These other documents must be valid when returning to the U.S.

Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative

There is an agreement between the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean that makes traveling less restrictive when it comes to the documents use for entry. These countries are part of the WHTI zone and will accept a passport card or government-issued ID from U.S. visitors. So, not having a passport will not prevent you from going to any of the countries.

Border Crossing

Know the document a country will accept before you plan to travel to that country. Even though a passport is not necessary, not any ID is acceptable. For example, Canada may take a NEXUS card for entry, but Mexico will only accept a passport book or card. Even though these countries are in the WHTI zone, the rules for each differ for entry. While some Caribbean countries will accept a driver’s license or state-issued ID as identification.

Closed Loop Cruises

A “closed loop” cruise is defined as starting and finishing at the same U.S. port. Even if the trip includes a stop at a foreign country, it is still a closed loop. Closed loop cruises do not require the passengers to have a passport. The necessary identification required is proof of citizenship. Minors can use their birth certificate and adults a government-issued photo ID like a driver’s license. However, you should still carry a passport if you have one. It is best to take your passport just in case of emergencies.

U.S. Territories

If your trip includes any U.S. territories, you can go without a passport. Going to a U.S. territory is considered not leaving the states even though it is a foreign country. You can use a government-issued ID for identification purposes and entry. TSA will accept a military ID, driver’s license, or a permanent resident card. The U.S. territories you can visit using any of the ID mentions are Guam, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.


The document you will use to travel to a neighboring country will be on the type accepted by the country. Know before you go which is necessary, but if you have a passport, it will work for all the countries. The other options you may use will vary. Any U.S. territories will accept your driver’s license or your green card. However, other nations will take a passport card instead of a passport book. Know this information before you go and avoid getting denied by immigration because of improper identification.