Beat the Summertime Passport Rush!

Beat the Summertime Passport Rush

Summertime is travel time. With families across the US heading off on their summer vacations, the summer is when we always see a passport rush. The US State Department has been experiencing a high volume of passport applications all year. With summer upon us, the number of passport applications is only increasing!

If you need a passport urgently for your summer travel, G3 can help you beat the passport rush.

Why is the State Department Experiencing a Passport Rush?

The summertime is always a popular time for travelers to apply for passports. If you are a business traveler, the summer is an ideal time to renew your passport, when you have a break between business trips. If you are a leisure traveler, you’ve probably got a summer trip planned. It’s a great time for you to travel, since the kids are out of school. Even if you aren’t traveling with children, you might want to take a relaxing summer vacation while things are quiet at work. And as you get ready for your trip, you may discover that someone in the family has an expired passport (especially kids, as their passports are only valid for 5 years), or a passport that’s out of blank pages, or simply can’t find their passport at all! All of these factors add up to lots of people trying to get rush passport services at the same time.

This year, there are way more passport applications than normal because 2017 is the 10 year anniversary of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI). The WHTI is the law that requires you to have a passport for all trips in and out of the United States, even to destinations like Mexico or the Caribbean. When the law went into effect in January 2007, there was a massive surge of people who applied for passports so they could travel to Canada, Mexico, Jamaica, and other destinations. Now, all of those passports issued in 2007 are expiring! Added to the normal summer passport rush, the result is record numbers of passport applications. Unfortunately, many people who apply for their passports by mail are reporting delays in the issuance of their passports.

Top Tips to Beat the Summer Passport Rush

Use G3

Since you’re here at, you’ve already found the best way to beat the summer travel passport rush! As registered passport expeditors, we can get your passport for you very quickly. We can even have your passport completed within 2-3 days! You’ll have the support of the G3 team every step of the way, to make sure there are no delays. Best of all, unlike applying through the Post Office, our processing times are reliable.

Apply Early

Don’t wait until the day before your trip to look for your passport. When you start planning your trip, check your passport right away. You’ll want to make sure you can answer yes to all of these questions:

  • Do I know where my passport is stored?
  • Does my passport have at least six months validity after the end of my trip?
  • Is my passport in my current legal name?
  • Does my passport have blank pages marked “visas” for my entry stamps?
  • Is my passport in good condition, with no tears, damaged pages, or unauthorized markings?

If any of those questions are a “no,” G3 can help you quickly renew or replace your passport.

Find the Best Passport Acceptance Facility

If you need to get your first passport, get a passport for your child, or replace a lost or damaged passport, you will need to visit a Passport Acceptance Facility before you send your application to G3. During the current passport rush, you may find that some Passport Acceptance Facilities do not have any appointments available, or ones that do not require appointments may have long lines.

During this busy season for passports, it’s great if you can schedule an appointment with a Passport Acceptance Agent. With an appointment scheduled in advance, you know exactly when you’ll be seen, and you won’t have to waste time standing in line. We encourage you to call around to other Passport Acceptance Facilities if you can’t get a convenient appointment with the first one you check. Consider locations near your home, your office, or maybe even one further afield that is close to a shop or restaurant you like but don’t get to visit often.

Prefer to go to a “first come, first served” facility that doesn’t take appointments? You’d be wise to try to get there early in the morning, just in case there are lines. At some Passport Acceptance Facilities, they will even shut down the lines if they know they already have more people than they can serve before the end of the day!

We look forward to helping you get your passport in time for your summer travel!


STEP Up and Register Your Trip With the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program


Did you know that the US State Department has a special program to keep international travelers safe in case of emergency? They do – it’s called STEP, the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. Even better, it’s easy to join, and completely free!

To enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, all you have to do is visit the STEP website. There, you will enter basic information about yourself, your trip, and your emergency contact people.  You’ll have the choice of registering just one trip, or creating an account so you can easily register future trips.

Who is eligible for STEP?

The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program is open to all US citizens. It can be used whether you are just making a short international trip or living overseas.

What are the benefits of the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program?

Once upon a time, if you wanted to register your trip with the State Department, you had two options. You could go in person to the nearest US Embassy or US Consulate General when you arrived at your destination, or you could send your information to the Embassy by mail in advance of your trip. Neither choice was particularly quick or convenient. The modern version of STEP allows you to register online in minutes. You can even register from your smartphone while you wait to board your flight!

Once you’ve enrolled, you’ll get the following benefits:

Travel Warnings and Alerts

The US State Department is constantly monitoring conditions around the world. If there are any events that could put travelers in danger, they will publish an official Travel Warning or Travel Alert. Travel Alerts are typically issued for short-term events, like strikes or disease outbreaks, while Travel Warnings are for more serious, long-term situations like civil war or extremely high crime rates.

When you enroll in STEP, the State Department will email you any active Travel Alerts or Travel Warnings for your destination. They’ll also let you know if a Travel Alert or Warning has been lifted.

Emergency Services from the US Embassy

You’ve made careful plans so that your trip will be perfect… but unforeseen events can still happen. Do you know what you would do if an earthquake shakes up your wine tour of Italy, or a hurricane crashes your beach vacation in Mexico?

One of the most important roles of US Embassies and Consulates is to provide assistance to US citizens. That means that if your trip is interrupted by a natural disaster or political turmoil, they can help with emergency accommodations or evacuation. But they won’t know to help you if they don’t know you’re there! If you have enrolled in STEP, the Embassy will have you on the list of citizens that they need to make sure are safe.

Your enrollment in STEP will also make it easier for your family back home to check on your safety with the State Department if they can’t contact you directly.

STEP can also help if you have a personal emergency, like a medical crisis or an arrest. You will already have the contact information for the nearest US Consulate so you can quickly get assistance.

Help in Case of an Emergency Back Home

Imagine you’re on a business trip in Beijing, and back home, your wife is in a car accident and is hospitalized. Your mother-in-law is trying to get in touch with you, but your cell phone doesn’t work in China, and she doesn’t know what hotel you are in. If you are enrolled in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, your family will be able to get the Embassy’s help to contact you.

Got a group? Get STEP.

STEP is great for individual travelers, but the State Department has also made it easy for you to register groups of travelers. You can register yourself as the point of contact for a group, and add as many travelers as you like. This is very useful if you are in charge of a school group or other tour. It can also be used to manage STEP enrollments for the travelers from your corporation. You could even use it to register all of the members of your family before your next big family vacation!


What Happens If You Make a Passport Application Mistake?

Did you make a passport application mistake? G3 will help!

Nobody’s perfect, and we all make mistakes. But what if you make a passport application mistake? If you have made an error on your passport application, you’ll have a very different experience if you have applied through the post office instead of through G3!

Common Passport Application Mistakes

Passport applications can be complicated. That’s why we have a team of passport specialists available to answer all of your questions. Mistakes can still happen, though! Here are some of the more common mistakes we see on passport applications.

  • Typos and misspellings. It’s easy enough for your fingers to slip on the keyboard, resulting in misspellings. A misspelled name can be a real problem on a passport application.
  • Transposed numbers and dates. If you’re filling out your application in a hurry, you might not even notice that you listed your birthday as 12 June instead of 21 June.
  • Incorrect information. Did you put your son’s Social Security Number on your daughter’s passport application? Or did you list your dad’s place of birth as Cleveland instead of Cincinnati? These are the kinds of incorrect info that we sometimes see on passport applications.
  • Signature errors. There are a lot of ways you can inadvertently mess up the signature part of your passport application! If you are applying for a new adult passport, a minor passport, or a replacement for a lost or stolen passport, you will need to sign the application at the Passport Acceptance Facility. If you signed your application at home, your application won’t be accepted, and you’ll need to fill out a new one. Passport applications for renewals or second valid passports can be signed at your home or office, but you will still have a problem if you use a purple pen or sign your nickname!

Passport Application Mistakes – A Headache If You Apply Through the Post Office!

It’s estimated that 25-30% of passport applications submitted through the post office have mistakes or missing documentation.

If you send in your passport application through the post office, and there’s a mistake, the Passport Agency will put your application in “suspense.” This means that it is on hold until the error can be corrected. The Passport Agency will send you a letter via First-Class Mail explaining the problem. It can take 2-3 weeks for them to contact you, and you’ll then have to send in a new application or whatever item they were missing.

A passport application mistake can cost you weeks of delay if you submit your application on your own through the post office.

G3 Makes It Easy to Correct Passport Application Errors

When you need your passport in a rush, you don’t have time for a passport application mistake. That’s why our passport specialists take the time to talk to you about the application and all the requirements. We also do a review of the application packet when we receive it. We can catch passport application mistakes before they are submitted to the Passport Agency!

If there is a problem after your application is submitted to the Passport Agency, they tell us about it right away. Most issues can be resolved within two days, so your passport application won’t be slowed down. We don’t want a simple error on your passport application to keep you from your travels!


Passport Requirements to Visit Canada

Learn the entry requirements for your Canada visit.

With summer’s heat upon us, you might be thinking about heading north for your next vacation. Why not visit Canada this summer? No matter what kind of traveler you are, you can find your bliss in a Canada visit. You could enjoy the European-city feel and many festivals of Montreal. Perhaps you’d like to relax at a luxurious spa retreat on the shores of Lake Louise. Prefer the wilderness? Canada abounds in places for you to hike, camp, hunt, and fish. If you love to cruise, you’ve got lots of options to explore Canada’s Maritime provinces on the Atlantic coast, or you could head west to Vancouver to board a cruise to Alaska. And if you’re a true romantic, you probably already know that the best views of Niagara Falls are on the Canadian side!

Have we convinced you that Canada should be on your must-visit list? Read on to learn more about Canada entry requirements. We’ll take a look at the passport requirements to enter Canada, as well as some special situations.

Passport Requirements to Visit Canada

Flying from the US to Canada

If you are flying to Canada, you will need to have a valid passport book before you board your flight. Your passport must be signed and in good condition. You’ll need at least one blank page marked “Visas” for your entry and exit stamps.

Driving to Canada

One nice thing about a visit to Canada is that if you live in any US state other than Hawaii, you can hop in the car and road trip to Canada! (Hawaiians, we don’t feel sorry for you. You live where everyone else vacations.)

It’s best if you have your valid passport book with you if you are traveling to Canada by land. However, there are a few other options if you’ll be crossing into Canada by land:

  • A valid US passport card
  • A valid Enhanced Driver’s License (these are special driver’s licenses issued by Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Vermont, and Washington state. Normal driver’s licenses from these or any other state cannot be used.)
  • A NEXUS or FAST trusted traveler card

These same entry requirements apply if you are crossing the Canadian border by bus or train, or even if you are walking across the border.

Cruises with Canadian Ports

Do you like cruises? Every cruise lover needs to take a cruise to Alaska, and there’s no better time than in late June or July, when you can experience the midnight sun. Alaska cruises typically either begin in Vancouver, or have Vancouver as a port of call. If you are flying to Vancouver to board your cruise, you’ll need a valid passport book. However, if your cruise begins and ends at a US port like Seattle, you may be able to use a passport card instead. (Contact your cruise line – many lines require that you bring your passport book, even though a passport card is valid for entry to Canada by sea.)

The same requirements apply to cruises of Canada’s Atlantic coast. A passport book is still your best bet!

Vancouver is one of Canada's major cruise ports.

Special Requirements for Canada Visits

Traveling with Minor Children

You’re going to want to bring the kids along on your Canada visit! Like adults, children and babies need their own valid passport book if they’re traveling to Canada by air.

Driving to Canada with the kids? Your children under age 16 will be exempted from the requirement to have a passport if they’re traveling with both parents. You will need to bring your child’s birth certificate to prove US citizenship, though.

If you’re bringing along your nephew or your daughter’s best friend, you’ll need to have a notarized affidavit from the child’s parents. This document, which gives the child permission to travel with you, is required no matter how you are entering Canada.

Business Visits to Canada

Will you visit Canada for business purposes? We recommend that you carry a letter from your employer explaining that you are making a business visit to Canada. The letter should include the dates of your trip, and contact information for the people you will meet within Canada. Although this is not a firm requirement, we’ve heard from some travelers that they were asked to provide proof that they were visiting Canada for business. Better safe than sorry!

Travelers with a Criminal Record

Canada has very strict requirements when it comes to travelers with criminal records. If you have any sort of conviction on your record, even a misdemeanor or an alcohol-related offense like a DUI, you will not be allowed to visit Canada until you’ve been deemed “rehabilitated.” Well in advance of your Canada trip, you’ll need to file a petition. Your petition is likely to be successful if your crime was a minor one, and if your record has been clear for five or more years. You’re not likely to be admitted if your record includes a more serious crime that would result in ten or more years of jail time if you were convicted of it in a Canadian court.


What Should You Wear for Your Passport Photo?

Choose the right outfit for your next passport photo.

At G3, we’ve been helping travelers get expedited passports since 1994, and that means we’ve seen a LOT of passport photos. The clothes, accessories, and hairstyle you choose for your passport photo can make the difference between a passport you love and one that makes you cringe every time you pull it out. Pick the wrong items, and your photo might even be rejected by the State Department!

Today we’ll review the items that you aren’t allowed to wear in your passport photo. We’ll also share our recommendations for the kind of attire that will help you get the best photo for your new passport.

These Items Will Get Your Passport Photo Rejected

There are some things you might wear in your passport photo that you’ll regret in years to come. That too-trendy haircut or neon green sweatshirt might be embarrassing someday, but they don’t violate State Department rules. But there are some things that you are absolutely forbidden to wear in your passport photo. Wearing any of the items listed below can cause your passport photo to be rejected, and your passport won’t be issued until you provide a photo that meets government standards.


The State Department changed their rules last fall, and you may no longer wear any type of glasses in your passport photo. Take your glasses off before the camera snaps!


All types of uniforms are forbidden in the photo you submit for your passport. No military uniforms, flight crew uniforms, or professional uniforms can be worn. You’ll need to wear regular street clothes in your photo.

Hats and Headgear

No hats are allowed in passport photos unless it is religious headgear such as a headscarf or yarmulke that you wear every day. If you do wear religious headgear, you’ll need to make sure that it isn’t covering your face at all. For example, you may wear a hijab scarf, but not a niqab that covers most of your face. You’ll also need to submit a letter explaining that you wear the item for religious reasons every day.

Hair That Covers Your Face

When you style your hair for your passport photo shoot, make sure that your entire face is visible. Don’t let your hair drape over your face and obscure your eyes. If you have very long bangs that cover your eyebrows, you should pin them back with bobby pins. It’s best if your ears show, as well, but that won’t cause your photo to be rejected.

Headbands and Large Hair Accessories

Don’t wear headbands or any bulky hair accessories when you go to get your passport photo. We’ve seen too many photos rejected because the applicants were wearing a headband. This rule even applies to those cute baby headbands that so many parents like to put on their infant daughters! You should also avoid any large hair clips, bows, “scrunchies” or ribbons. If you need to pull your hair back, opt for bobby pins or thin ponytail holders.

Wear This, Not That

Over the years, we’ve learned that some kinds of outfits look better in passport photos than others. Below, we’ve listed some of our “best practices” for passport pictures. The suggestions we’ve listed below are not State Department rules, they’re just some guidelines to help you choose the best outfit to wear when you get a photo taken for your passport.

Wear a Collared Shirt, Not a Tank Top

One of the most important things to keep in mind when choosing clothes for your photo is that the picture will be cropped when it is printed on your passport. All that will be visible is your face and the area around your collarbone. That’s why we think it’s best to wear a collared shirt or a top with a high neckline. We’ve seen photos in which the applicant wore a tank top or a shirt with a wide v-neck, and on the passport, it looks like they aren’t wearing any clothes at all!

Wear a Color Other Than White

Your passport photo must have a plain white background, so if you wear a white shirt, it may blend into the background and leave you looking like a floating head.

Go For Classic, Not Trendy

You’re going to have your new passport for ten years, and ten years is a long time when it comes to fashion trends! It’s best to opt for clothing, hair, and makeup that is relatively neutral and timeless. Otherwise, your passport might start looking dated long before it expires.

What’s most important, though, is that you choose an outfit that makes you feel confident. As long as you aren’t wearing glasses, headgear, uniforms, or hair in your face, your passport picture will be just fine!


What to Do About a Lost Second Valid Passport

Don’t worry about your lost second valid passport – G3 can help.

Don’t waste time worrying and fretting about a lost second valid passport. We know that you need to replace your second valid passport quickly, so you can keep up with your busy travel schedule. G3Passports is here to help! Today, we’ll look at what to do if you have lost your second valid passport.

The First Thing to Do If You Have Lost Your Second Valid Passport

The very first thing you should do in a lost second valid passport situation is to make sure that your passport truly is lost! Oftentimes, passports get misplaced at home. If you know that your second valid passport made it home with you, do a very thorough search before you give up hope. Check your bags, the pockets of your clothes, your filing cabinet. Search your car, your junk drawer, under your bed, in your bathroom. Look everywhere! If your passport went missing while you were traveling, start making phone calls. Call the hotels you stayed in, the airports you transited through, the cab companies or Uber drivers you used, and see if anyone has found your passport.

It’s very important to go through these steps before you initiate the process of replacing your lost second valid passport. Once you report your passport lost or stolen to the US State Department, your passport will be cancelled. That means that if you find your second valid passport in the inside pocket of your rain jacket the day after you report it lost, it’s too late. Your passport is no longer valid for travel, and you’ll still have to replace it!

G3 Can Help You Replace Your Lost Second Valid Passport

Once you’ve determined that your second valid passport is gone for good, call G3 for help! We can help you replace your lost or stolen second valid passport very quickly. Because this is a special service, we recommend you call us first before placing your order.

Replacing a lost second valid passport is very much like the procedure to replace a lost primary passport. You will need to complete the application form for a new passport, DS-11. On that application, you will be asked about your most recent passport. You’ll need to include the details of your lost or stolen second valid passport. You’ll also explain the circumstances in which it was lost.

You will need to appear at a Passport Acceptance Facility to have your identity and citizenship verified. You don’t necessarily need to dig out your birth certificate, though — your primary passport can be used to prove your US citizenship!

In addition to the standard requirements to replace a lost passport, you will also need to submit documentation showing why you need to have a new second valid passport issued. For example, you can submit a letter and flight itineraries showing that you need to get a visa for an upcoming trip, but you have other international travel in the meantime.

When you go to the Passport Acceptance Facility, let them know you are using G3 to expedite your passport. They will give you your application back in a sealed envelope. Send that envelope to us right away, using the FedEx airbill we provide. Once we get your package, we can have your new secondary passport issued in as little as two business days! You’ll be back in the air in no time.


Can You Renew a Second Valid Passport?

Yes, you can renew your second valid passport

Your second valid passport is an incredibly useful document. It only has one drawback: it has a limited validity. Although regular adult passports — what we in the industry call “primary passports” — are valid for ten years, second valid passports are only valid for four years. They used to only be valid for two! But don’t worry – G3 offers second valid passport renewal service to keep you flying with two valid US passports.

How Do Second Valid Passport Renewals Work?

Renewing your second valid passport is just like getting one for the first time! You will still need to prove that you have an upcoming travel situation that requires you to hold two valid passports.

If you are a frequent traveler who uses your second valid passport all the time, we recommend you renew it when it gets close to having only six months validity remaining.

What Documents Are Needed for Second Valid Passport Renewals?

Visit our Second Valid Passport page for all the details of the documents you’ll need to submit to get a new second valid passport! Here are some of the key items you’ll need to submit:

  • Passport Form DS-82. You’ll be asked about your current passport, so make sure to fill in the details of the second passport you are renewing.
  • Your primary (10 year) passport. Send the actual passport book, not a photocopy. This will be returned with your new second valid passport.
  • Your current second valid passport. This will be marked cancelled and returned to you.
  • One passport-style photograph. This must be a new photo that has never been used in any of your passports.
  • Proof of upcoming travel for which you need two passports. Most of our clients who need second valid passport renewals are people who travel for a living, and need to get a visa for a future trip at the same time they are doing other international travel.

What G3 Service Should You Select?

Ready to apply for your second valid passport renewal? Choose G3’s Second Valid Passport service option. Our second passport service is used both for first-time applicants and for renewals of second valid passports.

Second valid passports aren’t the most common of US passport services, but G3’s team are experts! We’re here to help you get your new second valid passport quickly and easily.