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If you’re like me, you have meticulous records, backups of everything, and are always war gaming everything. “What would happen if the house burnt down and I wasn’t able to get anything out?”
I seriously go through these scenarios all the time, especially when it comes to important documents. I’ve recently started investigating the steps to obtaining duplicate passports and passport cards for myself and my family.
There are many reasons why you’d want to have a duplicate passport and even one of the new U.S. Passport Cards.
Why a duplicate?
The primary reason I’m getting duplicates is redundancy. Two is one and one is none, as the saying goes. I live by this. A duplicate allows you to have a passport stored where a friend or family member can access it and send it to you. This is important if your passport is stolen overseas and you need to get home.
I always carry color copies of my passport, but nothing beats having the real thing to receive in an emergency situation.
Here’s some other reasons to consider a duplicate:
- When applying for a visa for international travel to certain countries, you will be required to send off your passport to a consular. During this time, you will be without your passport and unable to leave the United States, unless you have a duplicate passport.
- Having a duplicate passport will allow you overlapping dates of expiration, so that you’ll be able to always have a valid passport, even if a renewal is taking longer than it should. I did this with my Concealed Handgun License. I have my TX CHL with one expiration date, and a Florida permit with a different date.
- Traveling to sensitive countries with certain stamps can cause delays, this is where a second passport comes in very handy.
How to obtain a duplicate
- Fill out Form DS-82 on the U.S. Department of State Website. This is the basic form for applying for a U.S. passport by mail, and is not specific to a duplicate passport. Once the application is filled out, print it out, as you’ll need to mail it or bring in person when applying for a second passport.
- Write a letter explaining your need for a duplicate passport. Just one paragraph is all you need, but it helps if you have travel plans that help your case. Providing a history of trips where a duplicate passport would have been needed will work too.
- Submit Form DS-82, two passport photos, passport fees, and the letter explaining your need for a duplicate. Currently the fees for a duplicate passport are $135, but they’re changing by July 13, 2010, so act quick. It will take 4-6 weeks to find out if your duplicate passport has been approved.
U.S. Passport Cards have only been around for two years now, but are a great way to have official backup identification in an emergency. If a duplicate passport is more than you’d like to bite off right now, a Passport Card might be the way to go.
The Passport Card can be used to enter the United States from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda at land border crossings or sea ports-of-entry and is more convenient and less expensive than a passport book. The passport card CAN NOT be used for international travel by air.
Even though there are limitations with Passport Cards, they’re a great item to have. Other than your travel being logged by the Government, there’s no stamp placed on a Passport Card like there is on the Passport Book. That’s not really as important as it is with sensitive countries and the Passport Book.
The current cost is only $20 if you have a valid Passport Book, but that price is going up to $30 when the new fees go into effect. Here are some great FAQs on Passport Cards, including instructions on how to obtain a Passport Card.
Just a note that all new Passport Books AND Passport Cards contain RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) chips in them (denoted by the mark in the photo to the right). While the Department of State says there’s no personal information written on the electronic chip itself. The chip does contain a unique number which identifies a stored record within secure government databases.
A protective RFID-blocking sleeve is provided with each passport card to protect against unauthorized reading or tracking of the card when it is not in use. I’d recommend a RFID blocking sleeve for your Passport Book too, or just disable it if you’re paranoid about it (Warning: tampering with your passport could land you 25 years in prison, and land you a strip search each time you travel).
So I’m curious what you guys do when you travel? Do you make copies of your Passport to take with you and to leave with friends or family?
Can anyone here add more information about duplicate Passports, I’d love to hear your comments and opinions.
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Hey, I know its a bit late to post on this article, but I was just snooping around and found something you guys might like to check out. Its a pair of skivvies that includes a pocket for your passport and one for an iPhone . What safer place for your valuables than IN your underwear? I'm not sure if it really is that useful, but I think it deserves a look. Just don't piss yourself when the plane takes off!
I'd be interested to know what are sufficient grounds for a duplicate passport. The ITS Staff, as I understand it, are mostly prior military, and that alone might give their reasoning more weight, but what of the rest of us?
I'm a professional paranoid, I went with both the Kena Kai DataSafe wallet and Passport Wallet as its been tested and GSA approved by the US Government to meet or exceed their strict new FIPS-201 security standards.
Hi Bryan! Great post!
I agree about duplicating especially your travel documents and passport. This is most true especially when all of these got lost during your many travels abroad. Take not too that you need an undamaged copy of your Passport whenever you need to renew you expired passport so if you lost your other one, you have a backup. As they say you can never get too prepared for all the situations that will happen especially when you are not in the comforts of your own country.
Best Wishes on your Blog. Keep it up!
I have often read the advice to keep a copy of your passport in case you lose it or it gets stolen. But I have always wondered, what value is there in the copy? It is not a valid document, and why would any official trust a photocopy of anything so unique as a passport for any important situation? How hard would it be to PhotoShop an image file of a passport then print it out? Isn't the main value of the passport that it is uniquely hard to duplicate and tamper with?
I'm not saying anyone's wrong, just that I don't understand the utility.
Color Copy and Scan PDf of document available to me via Email.
I like the Secondary, need to get one.
If you can justify it I recommend a second passport, word is the process is getting harder. When I obtained my second passport I used an expediting service. I wrote a letter and detailed my need. Apparently they not only felt my need justified a secondary passport but they extended it for 10 years as opposed to the standard 2 year period for secondaries.
My secondary is an RFID equipped passport and I keep it in a LOKSAK anti-RF bag and it has worked great. They are also capable of blocking the signal of a cell phone should you need that feature.
As for while I travel, I keep copies secured at home, with trusted friends/family, and on an Iron Key thumbdrive which is an encrypted drive. I keep other important docs and info on there as well so that I can keep a backup with me but keep it secure. I also keep an email address solely for file storage, less of a target than file servers and I dont use it for regular comms so I can cover all my doc needs with or without net access and even if all my stuff goes missing.
Hope that helps,
Here is another option for blocking the RFID http://www.loksak.com/products/shieldsak
As much as I travel. I make copies of my passport leave them in my safe with someone I trust with code. My passport never leaves my site. IF someone takes it for security check I go with it.