This Is Why You Need to Renew Your Passport Immediately

Don't wait until the last minute to apply for or renew your passport. After all, the U.S. State Department declares September to be Passport Month for a very important reason.

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Attention, jet setters: Do you have a trip—local or abroad—coming up in the near future? If your passport is set to expire soon (or you need to get a new one), you might want to send in those applications sooner rather than later.

Why? For starters, processing times are shortest between September and December, according to the U.S. State Department. (Find out why they don’t want you to vacation in these cities in Mexico, though.) Demand for passports usually surges once the new year hits and continues into the summer. To get your passport back quickly, it’s best to get a head start now before the mad rush of seasonal vacationers.

Processing times aside, though, there’s another reason to make sure your passport is valid and up-to-date: The Real ID Act will go into effect next year. This law sets certain standards for state driver’s licenses, in order for them to be considered a valid federal ID for use at airport security checkpoints.

It goes without saying that not having the right ID could lead to a massive headache at airport security. To cover all your bases, you’ll want to travel with both your state license and your passport. That way, if your license is not compliant, you can just whip out a valid passport—problem solved. Make sure you avoid these airport mistakes before your next flight, too.

In order to receive a new passport, you’ll need to appear in person. Looking to renew? Renewals can be done by mail, but sure you send in this form before your original passport expires. Learn more about why your valid passport might be “expired” in some countries.

If you’re the owner of an American passport, you might be curious about where the phrase “quid pro quo” comes from.

Bon voyage!

[Source: LA Times]

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Brooke Nelson
Brooke Nelson is a researcher at PBS FRONTLINE in Boston, Massachusetts, and writes regularly about travel, health, and culture news for Reader’s Digest. Previously she was a staff writer at Reader's Digest. Her articles have also appeared on MSN, Business Insider, and Yahoo Finance, among other sites. She earned a BA in international relations from Hendrix College. Follow her on Twitter @BrookeTNelson.