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5 Things You Can and Can’t Do While Waiting for Your Passport

Are you stuck in limbo waiting for your passport to arrive? Whether you’re a first-time applicant or renewing your passport, this waiting phase can be filled with anticipation and confusion. Understanding what you can and can’t do during this period is crucial.

Most importantly, you cannot travel internationally until you have your new, valid passport. This means you cannot leave the U.S. if you are stateside or re-enter the U.S. if you are already abroad.

In this blog post, we’ll explore five more key activities you can engage in (and those you should avoid) while you’re waiting for your new passport.

1. Plan Your Itinerary (But Don’t Book Yet)

Can Do:

Start planning out your travel itinerary. Research destinations, understand local cultures, and create a bucket list of places you’d like to visit. You can even use AI to streamline and personalize your trip abroad.

Can’t Do:

Avoid booking non-refundable flights or accommodations until your passport is safely in your hands. Unexpected delays in passport processing can lead to significant financial losses if you commit too early.

2. Check Visa Requirements

Can Do:

If you’re traveling to a country that requires a visa, now is the perfect time to gather information about the visa application process and necessary documents.

Can’t Do:

Don’t apply for the visa until you receive your passport. Visa applications typically require a valid passport number, and some countries attach the visa directly to a page in your passport.

3. Shop for the Right Travel Gear

Can Do:

Traveling is a lot more comfortable and convenient when you have the right equipment. Consider the types and numbers of things you will need to pack for your upcoming travels.

Do you have the best luggage for the trip? Is your carryon the right fit for your needs? What’s more, do you have the right travel wallet to keep your new passport safe once it arrives?

While you wait for your passport application to be processed, why not treat yourself to some new travel gear to add some extra style and convenience to your next international journey?

Can’t Do:

Avoid purchasing country or region-specific items until your travel plans are confirmed. For instance, it’s wise to hold off on buying power adapters or region-specific clothing until you are certain about your destinations. This will helps prevent unnecessary spending on things that may not be useful if your travel plans fall through or have to change.

Similarly, avoid converting currency until you have a passport in hand and travel plans booked. You will likely lose value if you have to convert currency back and forth to U.S. dollars due to cancelled plans or premature exchanges.

4. Learn About Your Destination

Can Do:

Dive into learning about the customs, language, and etiquette of your intended destination. This can enhance your travel experience and prevent any embarrassing or dangerous cultural faux pas.

While you’re at it, be sure to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). This totally free program from the U.S. State Department provides you with several benefits, including critical updates and travel advisories related to your specified destinations abroad.

Can’t Do:

Don’t make assumptions about entry requirements based on outdated or anecdotal information. Always verify the latest travel advisories and entry requirements from official sources.

5. Explore Travel Insurance Options

Can Do:

Research travel insurance options. Understanding the coverage and how it works can be crucial, especially in times of unexpected travel changes.

Can’t Do:

Hold off on actually purchasing travel insurance until your travel dates and destinations are confirmed, as these details are often required for policy activation.

Many travel insurance policies are refundable if you cancel within a certain timeframe, but you’re better off avoiding having to do so if you can avoid it.

Our Expert Advice

While waiting for your passport, there are plenty of productive steps you can take to prepare for your upcoming travels. However, being aware of the limitations during this period is equally important to avoid inconveniences or costly cancellations.

Remember, patience and preparation are your best companions during the wait for your passport.

That said, if you would like to avoid the waiting game, consider expediting your new passport or passport renewal. Some of the top passport expediting services can get you your new passport as quickly as 48 hours.

For more about these services and how they can both simplify and speed up your passport application process, check out our Ultimate U.S. Traveler’s Guide to Passport Expediters.

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About the Author: For over 20 years, the U.S. Passport Service Guide team has helped hundreds of thousands of travelers with their travel document questions and shared advice about how to make traveling abroad simpler, safer, and more enjoyable.

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