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On the Frommer's Travel Show, our weekly radio broadcast, we recently interviewed Brenda Sprague, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Passport Services for the U.S. State Department, and she had a simple message: If your passport expires in the next year and a half, renew it right now.

"We are coming up on the 10th anniversary of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, and that was when Congress passed a law requiring people to have a passport to travel to Canada or Mexico, which are the number-one and number-two destinations for Americans" said Sprague. "If you recall, [back then] we entered a nightmare scenario in which people couldn't get passports. We got so backed up."

Now that flood of new adult passports is expiring—so there will be a flood of renewal applications that risk gumming up the system again. "We have been planning for the last eight years, and we feel we are ready... But it is going to take longer to get your passport."

Right now, you're predicted to receive your passport within six weeks—but the State Department wants you to get your application in early, just in case. 

There's another big reason not to wait until your passport's final day of validity. Some countries require you to have a passport that is good for an additional six months after you first step foot on its land. So really, you ought to renew your passport when it turns 9 even though the expiration may not be until a 10 years have passed.

For Frommer's' instructions for how to apply for or renew your passport, click here.

To stream the Frommer's Travel Show at any time, click here.



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