It’s that time of year when you begin to prepare for your much anticipated vacation.  Here’s what you need to know about the passport you just pulled out of the safe, especially if you haven’t traveled abroad lately.

To avoid undue stress “renew at once” if you have six months of validity remaining.  If your passport has 1 year remaining you should consider renewing now as well, especially if you plan on multiple trips this year.  Starting in 2016 you will also no longer receive page inserts overseas.  You will need at least two empty pages.  If you do not, renew now.

Doing so now would help avoid unpleasant surprises or last minute cancellations of your vacation due to an expired or full passport. Even though your passport is valid, many countries are now requiring at the very least six months of validity remaining.  I can’t stress enough, if in doubt, renew.

Mail is the quickest and cheapest route to renew; you can find all of the forms and requirements on the State Department’s website.

If you just realized your passport is expired, or under six months, you will need to use the expedited service.  This process should take under 3 weeks, but that is not guaranteed.  Besides the application fee of $110 you will also pay an additional $60 to speed things along.
If at any point you pause to think, “Is 4 to 6 weeks enough time”?  EXPEDITE!

No passport. No vacation.