Preparing to travel abroad

by Tom Cole

As more people become fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and with summer fast approaching, the desire to take trips and vacations outside of the United States again will only continue to grow. If you are hoping or planning to take a trip abroad anytime soon, please be advised about some important information and guidance regarding passport applications and renewals as well as certain foreign country requirements.

First, if you are planning to apply for a passport or renew an expiring one, you might experience significant delays due to application backlogs caused by the coronavirus pandemic. As a result, routine passport applications could take up to 12 weeks or longer to process and even expedited passport processing could take between 4-6 weeks.

To ensure you have your passport in time for any scheduled vacations or trips, the U.S. Department of State recommends that you apply early in case of delays. You can learn more about the process and begin your own application at travel.state.gov. While you are visiting the State Department’s travel office website, I encourage you to also take note of the useful traveler’s checklist, including such things as confirming you have the correct travel information, documentation and insurance. 

Second, as you consider your desired destination to visit, know that some countries around the world are currently requiring at least six months of passport validity before allowing entry. This means that travelers leaving the United States may be required to be in possession of passports that are valid for six months beyond the period of their intended stay.

Third, if you are traveling abroad soon and want to receive safety and security updates and allow someone from the State Department to reach you in case of an emergency, I highly encourage you to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) by visiting step.stage.gov.

Finally, if you are experiencing a passport issue and need assistance, my office is here to help those living in the Fourth District of Oklahoma. Although we cannot guarantee the outcome of an inquiry, we can certainly help you get answers. However, in order to help you with passport or any casework issues, federal law requires my office to have a signed-in-ink privacy release on file from you to open an inquiry.

For links to additional passport and travel resources or to download a privacy release form, please visit cole.house.gov/services/passport-assistance.
If you have any questions, please call my Norman office at (405) 329-6500.



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