Nova Scotia is open. The Atlantic bubble is coming soon.
Different parts of the world are starting to open.
I bet you are starting to think about travel even if you aren't quite ready to book that trip yet! The idea that it will soon be possible gives travel lovers a reason to celebrate!
Although the big travel rebound hasn't hit quite yet, it is getting closer. Fully vaccinated travellers are feeling more and more confident in booking their vacations for late 2021 and early 2022. People are craving adventures, a change of scenery and quality time with loved ones.
There’s a lot to think about when booking a trip, even more so now with all the changes, rules and restrictions! Here are a few passport tips to get you ready for your next adventure. Don't wait!
Passport Services - Delays
Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic the Canadian Government has reduced many passport services since travel has been limited to essential reasons. Some services are still unavailable and others are delayed.
It is more important now than ever that you do not leave passport applications or renewals to the last minute. Just like there will be a rush to book travel, thousands of people have been waiting to get their passports renewed. There will be a rush for this as well!
If you wish to apply for a passport or renewal in person at a passport office, currently it is by appointment only and you must show proof you need the passport.
Mail-in applications are expected to take 20 business days from the time they are received by the appropriate office. This does not include mailing time. And they are quick to say that services may be delayed due to the pandemic.
A 5-year passport fee is $120. A 10-year passport will run you $160. You can pay additional fees ($50 - $110) to have your passport rushed if you need it the next day or within 10 days, but why not plan ahead to avoid the extra cost and stress?
Have you checked the expiry date on your passport recently? If not, now is the time.
For travel to most countries, your passport needs to be valid for at least three months past your intended date of departure from the country you are visiting. For some countries, six months validity is required. For a few others, it just needs to be valid for your trip.
Why is this important, you ask?
Each country sets rules for the required validity of your passport. It is important that you know this, prior to travel.
If you think it isn't a big deal, think again. Here's what you are up against:
If your passport is not valid for the appropriate amount of time as determined by the country you are visiting, you can be denied boarding on your airline or you can be denied entry at immigration. Can you imagine flying all the way to Bangkok and having them turn you away at immigration? Yikes!
Oh, by the way, return flights are at your own expense and are regularly required same day, regardless of the cost. It's a very expensive chance to take.
If you follow the rules and gain entry to the country, the validity of your passport is still important.
All of us have the best intentions of sticking to our travel plans, but what if something goes wrong while you are abroad and you are hospitalized or are otherwise required to stay longer than intended?
You are legally responsible to have an active, valid passport while you are in another country, otherwise, you are there illegally and can be fined or jailed. You can also be banned from ever entering that country again, including transiting through to other destinations.
Don't leave it to chance. Check your passport expiry date now. If you plan to travel in the next 12 months, do a little math to see if your passport will be valid 3 - 6 months after you plan to travel. If not, it is time to consider renewal.
Normally, if your passport expires you must apply for a new one, going through the entire process from the beginning. However, due to the pandemic, the Canadian Government has extended the renewal period. If your passport expired on or after February 9, 2019 you may still be able to request a renewal which is less hassle than starting from scratch. Don't wait too long though as they won't extend the renewal process forever and the travel boom will start soon.
Answer a few quick questions here to see if you are eligible to renew, or if you'll need to start at the beginning.
Booking Travel Services
I cannot stress enough that you should have your passport in hand BEFORE booking and paying for any travel services. You should also check it carefully when booking on your own or providing it to your travel advisor.
From flights to cruises to hotel stays and tours, your passport information is often (not always) required at the time of booking. Sometimes this information can be updated for a fee if it changes, other times you'll be required to rebook at the going rate of the day. This is determined by the airline, tour or cruise company and the terms of your booking.
If you booked flights under "John", but your passport actually says Jonathan, you can be (likely will be) denied boarding. Maybe you go by your middle name of Ann, so you booked all your services that way, but the name on your passport is Sally-Ann. Maybe the passport office made a mistake and spelled your name wrong. All of this makes a difference and can literally ruin your vacation plans, cause you undue stress and cost you a tonne of money if not done properly in advance.
When you decide you are ready to start planning your next adventure, the last thing you want to be worried about is finding your passport and then getting it renewed before you book.
Go! Dig your passport out, dust it off and check to see if it has expired!
If you have less than a year left on it, you should consider a renewal as most countries require you to have three to six months validity.
Don’t get caught in the revenge travel rush without an up-to-date passport! Get your paperwork filled out and photos done. Everything you need to know can be found here.