Roadblocks to a successful passport renewal process

Having a valid passport is an essential part of international travel.  Your passport has to be valid in order to be able to make your trip.  In some cases, your passport has to be valid for a certain period of time.  Unfortunately, those who have a passport will eventually come upon a time when that passport must be renewed.  After all, a passport is only valid for a certain amount of time.  For adults, in most cases, it is valid for 10 years while for children it is valid for 5 years.

While renewing a passport is not as complex as obtaining a brand new passport, there are some criteria involved that will determine whether you can apply for a passport renewal or have to start all over again.  Some of these steps can be determined simply by looking at the passport.  Others are more complex.  The following criteria can help to determine which route you would have to take:

  1. A children’s passport cannot be renewed through the renewal process. The reason for this is because a children’s passport was only valid for 5 years.  A children’s passport requires parental consent and because they are minor’s will only be valid for 5 years.  The renewal process only applies if your passport was valid for 10 years and was not expired for more than 5 years.
  2. If your passport was valid for 10 years it can be renewed as long as it has not been expired for more than 5 years. For example, let’s say your passport was valid from 2002 to 2012.  This passport cannot be renewed in 2018 because the passport has been expired for more than 5 years.
  3. Your passport must be in good to great condition. If your passport has been damaged in any way, has pages cut off, is falling apart, has been mistreated or has been accidently left in the washing machine then chances are the passport is not renewable.  Any passport that has been damaged is considered just that…a damaged passport and you must now follow the damaged passport process.
  4. If there are any changes to your name or if the passport was accidentally misspelled or has inaccurate information, a birth certificate or other certified documentation would be needed in order to correct it. In some cases, the State Department may determine that the change requires you to apply as a new passport instead of a renewal.
  5. You can renew your passport before it expires. There are some countries that require a passport to be valid for more than 6 months in order for them to allow you to enter their country.  The State Department does allow you to renew your passport before it expires.
  6. Remain eligible to obtain a passport. There are certain citizens who are not able to obtain a passport or even renew a passport.  Those who are ineligible to receive a passport are those who are wanted by the government, owe the government money or are in arrears of child support.

If your passport adheres to the criteria listed, you should be able to do a passport renewal and receive a new passport.  Renewals can be sent through the mail for regular process or if you are in a rush go in person or through a service like ours.  We have offices in Downtown Orlando and in Coral Gables, FL.  Visit our site for more infomration at


The easy way to apply for a China tourist visa to visit family and friends

As the world has expanded and opened up we are finding many family members and dear friends living overseas to work.  Recently one of my dearest friends moved to the Netherlands with his wife and 2 kids.  While we cannot see them as regularly as we would like a whole new opportunity presents itself in the form of travel to a new and exciting country.  For the inviter, it presents many of their family and friends an opportunity to visit them AND see a new country at the same time.  China is one of those countries that is experiencing a wave of people going to China for work.   Visiting a friend in China falls under the China Tourist visa category but has slightly different requirements than those travelers looking for a China Tourist visa for tours or touristic travel.

While visiting China on a tourist visa to see a friend or family member can be an exciting venture it is not as simple as telling the consulate “I’m going to visit my friend who is there and I need a Chinese tourist visa.”  Unfortunately, the Chinese consulates do not work that way and will require documentation from your friend or family member in order to visit them.  The main requirement the consulate looks for is a copy of the inviter’s foreigner’s work permit ID card.  This card proves that the traveler has indeed gained the right to reside in China and can invite you.  Without this card, they cannot do so.  The inviter must be a resident in China and be able to supply documentation to prove it…Period.

Many encounter problems because the inviter may think that a copy of their work visa stamp should be sufficient but it is not.  These visa stamps just prove they were allowed to go to China for work purposes but doesn’t show they actually went through with the process.  This is the biggest holdup and most confusing aspect of applying for a tourist visa to visit a friend or family member.  Many of the inviters do not even know they have a foreigner’s work permit ID card.  Many do not have the card in their possession as it is held by their company or school.  That said, just because they do not have it in their possession doesn’t mean they don’t have one.  They should check with their school or workplace to see if they do.  Bottom line is that the inviter must present this ID in order to invite you.  Otherwise you would have to look into applying for the china tourist visa using different requirements.  Below is copy of what that resident ID card looks like.

Sample resident ID card

Along with the ID card the consulate requires an invite from the inviter.  The invite has to have the invitee’s personal information such as the full name, passport number and date of birth.  It should also have the dates of entry and exit from China.  Lastly the invitation must have the inviter’s address because, after all, the invitee will be staying there and the Chinese consulate will want to know this information.  It can then be printed out and signed by the inviter.  It can then be scanned and sent to the invitee via email as an attachment along with a copy of the inviter’s foreigner’s work permit ID card, copy of their visa in the passport and the passport information page.

If you follow these simple steps you will find the process to be very easy and have a seamless process in obtaining your china tourist visa.  You can then concentrate on spending quality time with your friend or family member in a beautiful country with so many places and things to see.

Can A US Citizen Get A 10 Year Visa To China?

Many travelers going to China have often wondered if they can get a 10 year visa to China.  For some it seems as a wild rumor that has been passed around between business travelers and friends.  We have had some clients come in saying “No way does the consulate of China issue a 10 year visa and if so, how come I didn’t get it when I went XX number of years ago.”    Some often wonder what special information they must turn in to submit a request for a 10 year business visa to China or a 10 year tourist visa to China.

The answer is really quite simple.  In 2014, our government and the government of China agreed a new policy that would see U.S. citizens get a 10 year visa for business or tourist purposes.  The following article is a great read and illustrates why both sides thought it to be a good idea.

The 10 year visas for China began to be issued to travelers in 2015.  While the Chinese consulates maintain the issuance of the visa is at their discretion, the 10 year visa is issued with regularity.  As long as your passport is not within 2 years of expiring you will be in line to get a 10 year visa unless the consulate feels that what you are going there for isn’t related to business or tourism.

There are still some conditions where a 10 year China visa is not applicable.  Public speaking or speaking at a conference for example, are not considered business and therefore does not fall under the 10 year visa category.   The reason is because public speaking in China is not considered a business visa.  It’s a different type of visa altogether.  Granted the consulate can make a mistake and issue a 10 year Business visa for public speaking but that is very, very rare.  For most tourist and business China visas, as long as your passport is valid for more than 2 years past your return to the States you should have no problem getting a 10 year China Tourist or Business Visa.  Granted the consulate can make a mistake in this instance as well but again, it is highly unlikely.

While most China business and China tourist visa are for 10 years in a majority of cases, it does not mean the Chinese consulates are being lenient on some of their requirements.  China continues to hold fast to the visa requirement that your passport must be valid for more than 6 months and have no plans to change that just yet.  So, if your passport has less than 2 years validity but more than 6 months remaining upon your return to the States you can still obtain a tourist visa or business visa.  You just will more than likely not get the 10 year Tourist or Business visa.  Also, if your passport is not in good condition or has water damage, the consulate can deny your application and force you to obtain a new passport.

We can help you apply for the Chinese Tourist or Business visa.  We have offices in Orlando and Miami that would be happy to assist with the applications and the process.  Please call us at 888-336-0683 or visit our site at



U.S. Passport Book or Passport Card – Which Should You Get?

This is a question many travelers ask when applying.  What is the difference between a passport card and a passport book?  Which is best for you?  The answer lies in your travel needs.  Some travelers benefit from the card while the majority are better off with the book.  You may choose to get both if you prefer.  To understand which is best for you it is important to note what you can do with each one.

A new passport book and new passport card are valid for the same time.  For an adult the validity is 10 years for both and for children under 16 the validity is 5 years.  The cost of the new passport book is more expensive than the passport card.  That is what makes the passport card more appealing.  That said, there is a reason it is more expensive.  The new passport book allows you to leave the U.S. by any means of travel while the passport card is only good for leaving the U.S. under certain means of travel.

A passport card is good for cruise or boat travel from the U.S. to places in the Caribbean and if you are driving into Canada or Mexico.  That’s it.  It doesn’t allow for much more and even for cruises or boating you do need to check with the cruise line as some areas do not accept the passport card and require you to have a passport book.  It is NOT good for airline travel.  If you are boarding a plane, the passport card will NOT get you on board and not having the passport book will be a problem.

A passport book is good for all types of travel.  It can be used for the same purposes as that of a passport card and is good for all flight travel.  Just be careful of the validity and know if a visa or entry payment is required on top of just the book.

That said, the passport card is a very good piece of identification.  It is given to you by the Department of State and has all the markings of a government issued ID.  While it may not be good to board the plane it is a valid proof of identification in the States and a valid proof of citizenship.  Many travelers get the passport card IN ADDITION to the passport book just so that they can travel with both and keep the passport safe in the hotel while they explore with the passport card.

To get either one requires the same types of documentation.  You must prove that you are a U.S. citizen by providing your birth certificate, older passport or a Naturalization Certificate along with a valid ID.  You can choose to rush the passport card as well as the passport book if you so desire.  The government fees apply to both but you only have to pay the expedite fee once rather than for each one if you decide to rush your passport request.  Our Miami and Orlando offices can assist you with rush passports and rush passport cards.  Visit our site at or at 888-336-0683.

First Steps Needed To Begin A New Passport For U.S. Born Citizens

us passportApplying for a First Time or New Passport may seem like an exciting venture.  We have found that having a new passport opens the doors to many different destinations and whole new aspect to travel.  However, if you do not have the right materials to start you could be looking at a very frustrating process.  Believe it or not, a naturalized citizen has an easier time getting a passport than someone born in the United States.  That’s because the proof of citizenship they have is recent while a U.S. born citizen has to depend on presenting a birth certificate that was most likely kept by their parents in safe keeping away from you for years.  Here are some tips to helping ensure that your new passport application gets off on the right track:

  1. Make sure you have a valid birth certificate. Your birth certificate must have your parents’ names.  The date of your birth, the county/city where the birth occurred and cannot say Abstract on it.  Be careful of abstract birth certificates.  These are birth certificates given by the county but do not show parentage and are not accepted for a new passport.  The Passport Office requires a certified long form of the birth certificate which features your parentage.   The link below will give you some tips to help with finding out if your birth certificate will be good for passport purposes:
  2. Make sure your birth certificate is in good condition and is not a photo copy. The link in step #1 will help you to determine if the birth certificate is good or just a copy.  Also keep in mind that if it is torn apart to the point where information is missing the passport office may deny it.  If it is laminated it may also be rejected because by laminating the birth certificate you have tampered with it making it potentially unacceptable.  If your birth certificate is severely damaged or laminated you may order a new one using the same link as above:

*For out of state birth certificates try this link:

*For travelers born in Orlando, Miami or other parts of Florida try this link:

  1. Make sure your birth certificate does not have any errors. Such errors will be put on the passport and will make it harder to correct later on.  You must contact your county where you were born for information on data correction of a birth certificate.  Use this link as a guide to correct your passport:
  2. Make sure you have a valid state identification either as a driver’s license or a learner’s permit. Here is a list of acceptable identification:
  3. Your passport photo is extremely important. Please do not overlook this part and take it as seriously as possible.  Be sure that you have recent and quality photos.  The Passport Agency requires a photo taken less than 6 months ago.  We recommend 3 months just to be sure.  We do not know how the Passport Agency knows but they know when a passport photo is older than 6 months.  Once they know it will cause a delay in your application which could cause you to miss your trip.   For more information on that see:


While having these items helps get the process started it does not mean that the Passport Agency will accept your documentation.  Your name and information still have to clear their systems. We can help you with a rush new passport if you have a need.  We have offices in Orlando and Miami that would be happy to assist.  We can be reached at 888-336-0683 or visit our site at

Passport Validity And Why It Matters

A traveler gets to the airport with a valid passport in one hand and a valid ticket to their desired location in the other.  It’s been a trip that has been planned for months, everything is set, the hotel, rental car, tour plan…all of it set and ready to go.  Yet, when you get to the ticket counter they tell you that due to your passport not being valid for the specified amount of time you will not be allowed to board the plane.  The only remedy is a rush passport renewal which means you are not only going to miss your flight but all your plans are shot.  Not a good way to start a vacation but this is a reality we hear almost daily from travelers who had no idea about the need for a passport to be valid for specific amount of time.

It is a little known fact that many countries require your passport not only to be valid at the time you enter but also to be valid for a specific period of time after your entry.  The main reason for this validity requirement is they do not want you stuck in their country without a valid passport which can pose a problem for the country you are visiting.  Worse still is that many airlines will not allow you to board the plane for fear that you will get rejected at immigration.  Airlines get hit with fines and have to put you on the next flight back if you get denied entry.  For this reason, airlines will not even allow you to board the plane.  It is cheaper for them to deny you boarding than it is to pay the fines.

It is important to note that passport validity not only applies to adults but to all U.S. citizens. That’s right…this rule even applies to children’s passports.  Children’s passports are even more worrisome as they are only valid for 5 years not like an adult’s passport which is valid for 10.  This is more common as many travelers mistakenly think that a child’s passport has the same validity of an adult’s passport.

How can you avoid this?  It all boils down to being vigilant and knowing the year your passport and that of your children will expire.  This is key and before you plan your trip make sure of the passport validity requirements for that country.  A great site to find this out is the State Department’s website which details the required validity for each country.  It is also recommended to call the airline to be sure they acknowledge the specified validity.  The link for the State Department is:

A passport renewal can be applied before the passport expires.  As long as you are willing to pay for it, the passport is in good condition and it falls in the category of a passport renewal.  A frequent traveler should consider renewing their passport before it gets to within 6 months.  That is where it many countries that require a visa such as China, India and Russia require your passport to be valid.  As long as you keep your passport valid for more than 6 months you should not have to worry about watching your plane leave without you.

If you are interested in a rush passport renewal please call us at 888-336-0683 or visit our site at: