You’ve ironed out all of the details of your next trip to Europe – you’ve got a tour guide to lead you through the historical streets of Italy, booked the flight, and arranged your hotel stays. It’s a few weeks until you take off and then you realize – someone headed on the vacation with you doesn’t have a passport OR yours is expired.

While this is certainly a worst-case-scenario, it happens pretty frequently. And with so many details to arrange, it’s not surprising that passports often get forgotten about until the last-minute.

There’s a couple of different instances in which you’ll need to address the passport situation way ahead of time.


If it’s your first time obtaining a passport, there’s a few things you need to do. You’ll need to present the following to a passport agency:

  • Passport application
  • Certified birth certificate
  • Government-issued ID
  • Documentation of any name changes

You might be wondering how long it takes to process all of this information – it’s four to six weeks. This means it’s extremely important to get your passport arranged well ahead of time before your trip.


Be sure to check your passport to determine whether or not it needs to be updated, especially if you haven’t traveled abroad in a long time. The good thing about passport renewal, is that you can do it by mail.

By mail, this will take four to six weeks to process.


If you’re traveling with grandchildren or extended family members who are minors, it’s important to take note of whether or not they’ll need a passport. This application process must be done in-person and will involve:

  • Certified birth certificate
  • Parents must issue government-issued IDs and sign the application

This process may also take four to six weeks, but there are many instances that may prolong this process beforehand. For instance, if only one parent can be present, a statement of consent must be signed and notarized.

It’s easy to let certain things fall through the cracks when you’re planning a trip out of the country. If you’re really in a crunch and are just realizing that you’ll need a passport for one of the reasons listed above, there is a way to expedite the process – but it will cost an extra fee.

And remember – if you’re feeling overwhelmed, contact a travel agent who will help ensure your trip is great from beginning to end.

Check out the National Passport Center for more information regarding this process.