Passport 101 Before Your Honeymoon

How to make your overseas honeymoon travel easier.

Passport on map via Shutterstock

Passport on map photo via Shutterstock

Unfortunately, the whirlwind of wedding planning doesn’t stop the day of the ceremony. If you’re scheduling your honeymoon in any country outside the U.S. and its territories (such as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands), a passport is a necessary step toward wedded bliss. Plan ahead and it’s easy peasy.

All the information you’ll need for your passport, entry requirements, and downloadable forms can be found under passport information on the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs home page. For a quick 101 lesson, we’ve gathered some important details for you.

  • If you already have a passport, some countries require it to be valid for at least six months or longer beyond the dates of your trip. Once you are set on an overseas honeymoon, check your passport expiration date and go from there.
  • If you’re planning on taking your husband’s name, your passport is not the time to do it. Airline tickets and passports have to be handled before your honeymoon, and the name on both have to match. This means you have to book your ticket and apply for your passport under your maiden name. Once you’ve returned from your trip, send your marriage certificate, a Passport Amendment/Validation Application, and your “maiden name” passport to the nearest passport agency. You’ll receive your “married name” passport back in as little as three weeks.
  • This isn’t an overnight ordeal. Passports normally take about five weeks to process and get to you via the USPS. During the busiest season of May through August, it can take up to eight weeks. If you’re renewing, you can do everything by mail, whereas first-timers must apply in person at a passport agency (Boston’s is located in the Tip O’Neill Federal Building at 10 Causeway Street, Room 247) or at a designated post office or court house (the list is online at Massachusetts’ State Department website). If you’re going to a passport agency, it’s important to know that appointments are required.
  • Remember that although Canada and Mexico are just a border cross away, they now require passports.
  • You’re required to have a 2 x 2″ passport photo to accompany the forms. You can get these done for a nominal fee at either a designated passport post office, Kinkos, or your local drugstore.
  • Once you have your honeymoon destination in mind, check its entry requirements, visa instructions, and contact information, visit the U.S. State Department website. You might need more than just a regular passport.

Here’s a rough timeline (translation: here’s when to start panicking):

Over nine weeks until your honeymoon:
 No stress here. Just grab your materials and head down to a passport agency or designated post office to get the ball rolling. If you’re applying anytime from January to July, expect longer lines.

Between five to nine weeks: Are you in the busy travel season of May through August? Consider expediting. The peace of mind is worth the additional fee.

Between three and four weeks: Expedite your order. If you use two-way overnight delivery, you should receive your passport in seven to 15 business days, depending on the season.

Two weeks: Make an appointment at a passport agency.

Important note: Waiting is dangerous. You don’t want your honeymoon foiled because of an incorrect form or forgotten paperwork. And remember, while expediters can speed up the process, a 24-hour passport is like a unicorn. No one has ever seen one, but wouldn’t it be nice if they did?

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