You have the best form of identification, but you might have some misconceptions or inaccurate information about your passport that could cost you dearly. Knowing a few rules about passport regulations could mean the difference between a wonderful trip and a disaster.
Your passport photo must be in color and fit regulations. Do not bother cropping that vacation photo taken at the beach—get official passport photos. You won’t look your best, but they will be legal and accepted by the passport issuing agency.
Your passport can be denied. Yep, if you owe the IRS or even a lot of child support your passport application can be denied. Certain convictions are also reasons for denial. That speeding ticket doesn’t matter, but that bank robbery does.
Your passport is good for all travel. It doesn’t matter if you are going to Indiana or Indianapolis—your passport is always the best form of identification, although it is not necessary on domestic flights.
You DO need a passport for your Caribbean cruise. According to US Customs authorities, if your cruise begins and ends in an American port and it stops in at least one foreign destination, you can board with a birth certificate (proof of citizenship) and drivers license (proof of identification). BUT if an emergency arises and you need to fly home, or you miss the ship’s departure and must fly to the next port, you cannot board a plane without that passport.
You CANNOT use an expired passport in most countries, including the heavily visited countries of Europe. In fact, in many countries your passport must be good for at least six months after travel is completed. Combined with some visa requirements, that means you might need a passport with an expiration date eight months or more from departure. It is best to start thinking about renewing your passport a year before it expires.
In other words, you do not want to be the person frantically calling an embassy on a Sunday morning, or facing a delayed (and expensive) trip home. Keep your passport up to date and handy, along with a few photocopies. Then relax, pack, and get excited about your next adventure.