What’s in your filing cabinet?
If you’re like many of us, the new year is your time to clean out and reorganize your files. We’re sure there are plenty of items in your filing cabinet that should be purged, but there are other items you should keep on hand to help you keep your passport up to date. Before you haul out your recycling bin or fire up your shredder, read through our list of important documents to keep on file to help you with future travel and passport applications.
Your Valid Passport
Designate a safe place to store your passport, and always keep it there when you are not traveling. Most of the calls we get about lost passports are from people who have lost their passport somewhere at home, or who put their passport in storage and now can’t find it.
The new year is also an excellent time to do an annual check of your passport. Is your passport getting close to expiring? Is it low on blank pages, or starting to look worn? It may be time for a passport renewal.
Copies of Your Valid Passport
Make photocopies of your valid passport, and keep them on file. If you ever lose your passport, having a photocopy of your passport will help you fill out the lost passport replacement application. When you travel overseas, take a copy with you, and leave one at home with someone you trust. A photocopy of your passport can serve as a temporary proof of citizenship to help you get a replacement passport if your passport is lost or stolen overseas.
Expired or Cancelled Passports
Your cancelled or expired passports are not valid for travel, but are still valuable documents to keep on hand. A cancelled or expired US passport book can be submitted as a proof of your US citizenship if your passport is ever lost or stolen and you need to replace it. It’s also a valuable record of any visas you’ve obtained. When you apply for a new visa, you may need to supply details of previous visas from your old passports.
Your Birth Certificate, and Your Children’s Birth Certificates
Your birth certificate showing birth in the United States is your primary proof of US citizenship. It can be used for any passport application to prove you are a citizen. If you have young children, it’s even more important to keep their birth certificates on hand. Children under age 16 have to submit the birth certificate every time they apply for a passport, even if they have already been issued a passport. Since minor passports are valid for only five years, you’ll need your kid’s birth certificate on a regular basis!
Your Marriage Certificate or Other Name Change Document
If your name has been legally changed by marriage, divorce, or court order, you will need to submit proof of name change when you apply for a passport name change or passport renewal in your new name.
Do you have any tips for storing your travel documents? Tell us in the comments!