As any experienced traveler can attest, holding a valid passport is the critical first step to seeing the world. The process for obtaining a passport book is simple: fill out the required forms, attach an approved head shot, submit a previous passport book (if one is available), and pay the required fees. Thousands of people go through this process to obtain or renew their passport every year. However, the savvy traveler knows that holding a second passport can make international travel a much easier process.
Unbeknownst to many, U.S. State Department regulations do allow American travelers to hold two separate and valid passport books at any given time. Although a second passport is only valid for two years, it can help travelers gain access to countries, reduce the risk of being stuck if a passport is lost, and even allow individuals to better manage visa processing. For those who travel internationally often, or plan on increasing their international adventures, here are three good reasons to consider requesting a second passport book.
A duplicate passport can help you access countries
Although it is not often mentioned, entering into to or coming home from politically sensitive countries can be a very difficult process. Those who plan on traveling to certain countries in the Middle East (including Pakistan and Saudi Arabia) and have multiple international stamps could be subject to additional questioning at Customs based on their travel patterns. Subsequently, having certain passport stamps could make it harder to visit other countries. For example: a passport stamp from Israel can make it very difficult (if not impossible) to enter Algeria, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the United Arab Emirates.
A duplicate and valid passport book can help travelers skip some of the problems they could face entering countries or coming home by reducing the sheer number of stamps and visas in a book. Keeping a duplicate passport book for different plans can help travelers move freely, and reduce the difficulty in entering another country based on previous travel plans.
Expedite visa processing with a second passport book
Many countries require travelers to secure their visa and travel insurance well before they physically enter their destination. Furthermore, some nations, including Russia, require travelers to have their travel plans secured before applying for a visa. For those who plan on regular international travel, holding only one passport book could result in travel problems between visa applications.
Keeping a duplicate passport book allows travelers to submit one book for visa processing, while maintaining travel plans for other international travel with the second passport. Frequent international travel plans is an acceptable reason to request a second passport book from the State Department.
For those who don't fly often, other options may present a frugal alternative with the same result. For those go between flying and other travel means (including driving and cruising), a passport card or Trusted Traveler card could be a better alternative. At a lower fee, purchasing a passport card or applying for a Trusted Traveler program can allow travelers to maintain international access between visa applications.
Reduce your risk of being stuck by a lost passport
One common fear of frequent travelers is having a passport lost or stolen abroad. While applying for an emergency passport replacement is possible, the process can be difficult and unpleasant to begin with. Furthermore, an emergency passport is only valid to return to a home country - requiring the traveler to apply for a new passport prior to their next travel.
Those who hold a second passport book may be able to maintain limited travel plans, even if a passport is lost or stolen abroad. While travelers will still need to report their passport book as lost or stolen to local authorities and the State Department, a second passport book can help travelers recover their identity after they return home, and even start the process for applying for a replacement passport.
While it is not the right move for every traveler, considering a second passport book can keep travelers moving forward, no matter what the world throws in their way. For those who plan on traveling abroad frequently, holding a duplicate passport can be a great way to maintain travels safely and securely around the world.