Among a well-thought-out packing list and plan for a trip abroad, ensuring that you have a valid and up-to-date passport should be a top priority. This indispensable document, along with a plane ticket, will grant you access to almost any country in the world, and without it, you won't get any farther than your local airport! Although daunting to some, the process of acquiring or renewing a passport is relatively easy and there are hundreds of offices around the US that aid in the acquisition of such travel documents, from post offices to public libraries to municipal government facilities. You can even renew your passport online or find a nearby US Passport Services office to visit in your hometown. But the problem with this stage of vacation preparation remains in the delays and amount of time it can take between the moment you submit your applications and the day the requested documents arrive at your door.
Bad News for Passport Prospects in Britain
Every country issues citizens its own distinctive passport, and UK residents have been having a particularly hard time getting a hold of these crucial travel permits. In an ongoing labor issue linked to both job cuts and an increase in applications, waiting periods at UK passport offices, specifically in the city of London, have been reaching record highs in recent months. Some applicants have reported having to wait several months to receive their passport and, due to a backlog of almost 500,000 renewal requests, residents seeking a new passport for the first time have been turned down outright. Emergency measures were enacted this summer to lighten the load on government workers with 12-month extensions granted to UK passport holders trying to renew from overseas, but the waiting time to receive approval has remained an issue.
Luckily, those who plan on travelling in the near future and need a passport urgently can apply for expedited approval services in their respective countries. British residents have the option of making an appointment and having their passports renewed within a few hours with a "premium service" or within a week with "fast track service". The price of impatience is quite high in the UK, though, with "fast track" services costing the equivalent of around $150 USD and "premium" services setting applicants back an additional $200 USD. Those looking to get a passport in a hurry are left with little option but to pay up and one British aspirant was quoted saying, "we feel like we've been held to ransom."
A Travel Tip That Can Save Your Next Vacation
Prospects for getting your passport are somewhat brighter if you're a citizen of the United States, and what you may nowhat-yout know is that now is the best time to apply! The US Department of State has been reporting much faster processing times in the wake of this summer's travel season with much fewer applicants and expanded hours of service until December 15, 2014. The current turnaround for a routine passport service is under 4 weeks, but expedited services are available to reduce that wait to 2 weeks. You can even get your passport in less than 5 business days with an appointment and visit to an official passport office for an additional fee of $60. If you only need to renew your passport and don't plan on traveling beyond its expiration, you can always submit an application for renewal by mail but be wary, as some countries do not accept valid passports that are set to expire within 6 months after your visit.
The best way to go about taking any trip to a foreign country is proper preparation in the weeks and months leading up to your journey. Ensuring that all of your travel documents are valid and up-to-date can save you the cost of last-minute expedited services and give you peace of mind in knowing that your travels will go off without a hitch. Set yourself at ease and check all of your identifications and passport before planning your next holiday; that way you'll be able to spend less time worrying and more time planning out a perfect vacation itinerary!