SKIP Navigation

What do you need to know about your passport?

Topic Travel Tips and Tricks

What do you need to know about your passport? - Image

Any traveller, whether you're a novice to the jet-setting game or you're an old pro, probably knows the basics about passports. The short story is that you need to fill out some paperwork and usually pay some fees for a small book, which will be stamped if and when you travel outside your home country.

As such, this document is one of the most important things you need when exploring a new place - it's a catch-all for identification and is more crucial than any travel accessory you could invest in.

However, this description only glosses over the things passport holders should know about the booklet they need to essentially guard with their lives when they're in a foreign land. A passport isn't just a few pieces of paper bound together that immigration workers stamp when heading into a new country. It's a serious tool that will get you in and out of different countries, so holders need to be aware of a few things before they put it to good use.

New appearance means new passport
Although many nations' passports require renewal every decade, some people are going to have to re-up their travel document a little sooner than they may have anticipated.

As USA Today pointed out, any change that seriously affects your appearance might warrant a renewal with a whole new picture. This can mean anything from facial tattoos and piercings to drastic weight loss and facial surgery.

Act like it's fragile
A passport, especially the cover, can take some wear and tear, but only up to a point. Ultimately, it's a booklet and can be relatively easily destroyed, so holders need to take good care of it, otherwise they might need to replace it.

The news source explained that water damage, torn visa pages, and ripped cover, personal data or photo pages can warrant an immediate renewal. This also includes "unofficial marking on the data page," which can extend to errant pen marks or little kids' colouring.

Keep an eye out for colour
The colour of your passport will depend on which nation you come from and when it was issued - for instance, if you're from either the United States or Canada, yours will be navy blue. However, the U.S. used to issue green booklets. The Chinese government, on the other hand, gives citizens red passports.

There are sometimes extenuating circumstances though, as Performing Arts Abroad explained. For instance, if you're travelling with someone with a black passport, he or she is almost definitely a diplomat of some sort. The source pointed out that these carriers are treated to different privileges at customs.

Check those dates closely
While it's easy to assume your passport is good for 10 years, that's actually pretty misleading. There are many countries that will not let people in if they hold passports that are within six months of their expiration date. According to Thrillist, the European Union is just one destination that abides by this rule.

Verify stamp rules before you go
Another thing passport carriers need to know is that if they have a stamp in their booklet from a particular nation, other countries might not let them in.

For example, as the source pointed out, if you have a stamp from Israel, you are likely going to have a hard time entering both Lebanon and Saudi Arabia. On the other hand, this isn't an issue in Egypt or Jordan. As such, before making travel plans, it's a good idea to check up on individual nations' passport rules.