Passport 101

Honeymoons & Destination Weddings
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Andrew McCaul

Whether you're planning a destination wedding or picking an international locale for your honeymoon you're most likely going to need a passport to fly to your chosen location. For a lot of people, getting a passport may seem dauntingly difficult, especially with the stories of ridiculous wait times and long lines last year. But think of it this way, a $100 passport buys you ten years of freedom to travel anywhere in the world. Here are the answers to some common passport-related questions...

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What is a passport card versus a passport?

It seems like you need a passport to get anywhere outside of the U.S. right now, but that's not entirely true. In an attempt to make travel easier for citizens living on the borders of Canada and Mexico, the government will be issuing passport cards starting in June and July 2009. Passport cards are not passports, but will work in lieu of passports in Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the Caribbean. However, the difference between a passport card and a passport is that the card can only be used for land or sea travel—not on flights. The card is also cheaper; $45 for first time applicants compared with $100 for a passport. If you already have a passport, the cost for a card goes down to $20.

You don't have to get a passport, or passport card just yet though. Until June 1, 2009 a certified birth certificate and a valid driver's license will get you to and from Mexico, Canada, Bermuda and the Caribbean if you're driving or taking a cruise. But remember, if you are flying anywhere outside of the country, you must have an actual passport.

What destinations don't require a passport?

United States citizens don't need a passport or passport card to go to and from U.S. Territories: American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, Swains Island, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

How long does it take to get a new passport? Are there reliable "fast pass" services?

Usually it takes three weeks to get your passport, but if you need it fast, you can go to the post office and have them write "Expedite" on the outside of the application envelope and your passport will arrive in two weeks. You have to pay the expedite fee plus express mailing, and the total cost will be around $191. However, if you need your passport really fast, there are companies that can get you a passport in 2-3 days, but you will have to pay a hefty fee for the service.

Since the name on the passport must match the name on the ticket, should I book my flight in my maiden name or my new married name?

Put everything under your maiden name. When you get back from your trip, send in the form for a new passport under your new name and include your marriage certificate. —Tammy Levent of Elite Travel

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