NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - International travel plans could come to a halt for passport holders who fail to renew the documentation in a timely manner. Millions of passports are up for renewal this year.
It's better to renew or obtain a passport now, rather than later.
International Tours is sending out an important message. Renew your passport now. In the United States, the Office of Passport Services is about to get really busy.
"This year, in 2017, they're expecting to issue 20 million passports," said Wyndell Westmoreland, an owner of a travel agency.
That's because back in 1997 Americans for the very first time were required to have passports when traveling to the neighboring countries of Mexico and Canada. Those passports are up for renewal.
"This is the ten year anniversary of that, so there is going to be a lot of people renewing this year,"Westmoreland said.
A backlog in passport offices is likely, so taking care of the matter before the heavy travel season is wise. And there's another new passport rule even experienced travelers overlook.
"Now you have to have validity on your passport six months beyond your return date," Westmoreland said. "A lot of people don't realize that."
And if your mode of transportation across the border is something other than a car, you have to have a passport book. You cannot fly on the cheaper passport card.
Cruises from American ports allow birth certificates, but Westmoreland advises customers to go ahead and get the passport book. Illness or an emergency could require jet travel home.
"People buy travel insurance now," Westmoreland said. "It gives them some flexibility in case something does happen."
Westmoreland said international travel is still popular despite the delays seen recently due to immigration rules. This year, she plans a trip to Budapest. Her passport is renewed and valid.
Passports can be renewed by mail or at the courthouse. Infants and children are required to have passports. They're renewable every five years.