A US passport, the passport of the United States of America, is a powerful and necessary tool for citizens of this country. Here are some features of the little blue book that is so important for travel.
Basic features: A citizen of the United States carries a regular passport with a blue cover carrying the Great Seal of the United States of America, and with the words PASSPORT appearing in gold letters above the Seal. Each standard passport contains 32 visa pages, 52 pages for frequent travelers. The first page of the passport contains your bio-data, including your name, photograph and the country of birth. It also contains a signature page, to which a passport is rendered invalid if not signed by the bearer.
Access to countries: The US passport is recognized virtually anywhere in the world, although some countries require visas prior to or upon arrival. Common tourist destinations such as the Japan, Hong Kong and most of Europe do not require a visa. However, others such as China and Australia require either a visa or an Electronic Travel Authority for a fee.
Safety features: Since 2006, all United States passports contain a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chip that holds all personal and passport data. The US Immigration also requires all foreign passports issued after 2006 to be machine-readable in order to qualify for the visa-waiver program. This is to ensure that no information can be modified. Furthermore, it speeds up the time spent at the customs, especially in countries that are equipped with readers. All US citizens are also entitled to carry only one passport at a time, so as to ensure to duplication of information.
Passport card: The passport card is issued for travel within North America, specifically to Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the Caribbean. It is not used for international travel, but allows for a more convenient and portable way of travelling to neighboring countries. In addition, application for a passport card is also cheaper than a booklet.
Validity: A passport booklet is valid for 10 years beginning from the date of issue for adults, and 5 years for minors under the age of 16. The same period of validity applies for passport cards.
Obtaining a passport: The application form for passport booklets or cards can be obtained from the nearest passport agency or acceptance facility, and should be accompanied by necessary documents and a passport photograph. The standard processing period is about 4-6 weeks, or 2-3 weeks for expedited services. Each passport booklet will cost $100 for adults and $85 for minors, while cards cost $45 for adults and $35 for minors.
This would sum up the basic information regarding a - the tool for all travelers out of the U.S.
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