Travel Document Glossary

Want to know what Real ID is, or understand travel visa information and passport types? You’ve come to the right place at Official Travel Documents.

Birth Certificate

The birth certificate is fast becoming the most important document to prove identity, age and citizenship as well as credentialing verification. Birth certificates are a required piece of documentation for activities ranging from school and sports registration for children, driver’s license applications and passports.

It’s important to note that original birth certificates, especially those showing the baby’s footprints, are not necessarily valid to use for legal purposes as noted above. For such legal purposes, a birth certificate needs to be an official, certified copy which will be printed on special security paper and include an official seal of the agency issuing the certificate – whether by watermark, stamped, embossed, impressed or otherwise shown. Informational and/or uncertified birth certificates are also available and are a good choice for family history or genealogy purposes. Since informational or uncertified birth certificates generally do not include an official seal, they are not valid to use for legal purposes.

The process of obtaining a new birth certificate can be quick and convenient with the Official Travel Documents resources – including direct links to VitalChek.com, America’s leading source for expedited birth certificate orders. Since each state has different requirements and different levels of service, it can be beneficial to use services such as these to help guide you through the process.

VitalChek makes sure to submit your request promptly and correctly so you receive exactly what you need for your official records. VitalChek pioneered the remote vital record ordering industry in 1987 and has developed long-standing direct relationships with the various state, county and local government agencies responsible for issuing birth certificates and other vital records. As a result, VitalChek is the only authorized internet ordering service for hundreds of these agencies across the nation.

Click here to obtain a Birth Certificate

Passport

A passport is a certified government document providing proof of one’s identity and/or citizenship. This document allows travel abroad and re-admittance to a traveler’s home country. Getting a U.S. passport and keeping it current can save time, money and hassles when an opportunity for a last-minute trip arrives!

A U.S. passport is required for all U.S. citizens traveling between the United States and all international destinations, including countries in the Western Hemisphere (such as the Caribbean, Canada, Mexico, etc).

USpassport_cutoutU.S. PASSPORT TYPES

The U.S. Department of State issues different types of U.S. passports, depending upon the specific need as summarized below:

New Passports*

You should apply for a new U.S. passport if:

  • you have never had a U.S. passport,
  • your passport has been expired for more than 5 years,
  • your passport has been damaged or mutilated, or
  • you were a minor (under age 16) when your U.S. passport was issued and you are now over 16 years of age

Passport Renewals

Apply for a passport renewal if:

  • your current undamaged U.S. passport will soon expire or has expired within the last 5 years and your passport was issued within the last 15 years,
  • you were over age 16 when your current U.S. passport was issued, or
  • you require a replacement passport due to a legal name change (due to marriage, divorce or professional reasons)

NOTE: Minors (under age 16) should use the Passport for Minor process when renewing.

Lost/Stolen Passports*

Apply for a Lost/Stolen Passport if you are unable to locate your current valid U.S. passport or it has been stolen.

NOTE: If the passport is no longer in your possession, but it has expired, you must apply for a New Passport.

Passports for Minors*

Use this process if you require a U.S. passport for a minor child (under 16 years of age).

NOTE: A Minor’s passport application must be completed by parent, guardian, or adult with court authorized documentation.

Second Passports

If you are a frequent traveler and your travels abroad require you to submit one U.S. passport for travel visa processing while you are using the other U.S. passport to travel abroad, you should apply for a second passport. You may also need a second U.S. passport if you plan to travel to a country which objects to particular immigration stamps currently inside your U.S. passport (i.e. Israeli stamps).

Passport Name Change

The U.S. Passport Services Office no longer amends valid U.S. passports for a legal name change (amending your married or maiden name, or changing your passport for professional reasons). Instead, you need to apply for a Passport Renewal, along with the appropriate name change documentation, to reflect your new name on your U.S. Passport.

Additional Passport Pages

The U.S. Passport Services Office no longer provides extra visa pages for U.S. passports.  Applicants in need of additional pages in their valid passports must obtain a new passport by mail. Applicants within the United States may choose a 28-page or 52-page book.

* A certified birth certificate copy must be sent with your application for a New, Minor, or Lost/Stolen U.S. Passport – order a certified copy here.

HOW TO GET A U.S. PASSPORT

There are two main ways of fulfilling your passport needs – directly through the U.S. government, or through an expediting service.

How to get a passport directly through the government:

The U.S. Department of State website – https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en.html – is a great place to find all the information you need, including an online step-by-step application that you can fill out, print and mail in for processing. You can also visit a Passport Acceptance Agency (such as your local post office) for further information.

How to get a passport through an expediting service:

Using an expediting service enables you to speed up the passport application process, getting your passport to you in as little as 1-3 days when necessary. In addition, expeditors walk your passport through the government application process, providing you convenience and security. There are several passport expediting companies available, including:

passport services by its easy.com

It’s Easy

rushmypassport passport services

RushMyPassport.com

 
travel document systems passport servicesTravelDocs.com

VisaHQ.com

For general information and non-expedited passport orders, please visit the U.S. Department of State’s passport services site.

US Dept of State passport services

U.S. Department of State

 

DON’T FORGET YOUR BIRTH CERTIFICATE!

A certified birth certificate must be sent with your application for a New Passport –order a certified copy through VitalChek Express Certificate Service.

Travel Visas

A travel visa is typically an official stamp in a person’s passport, given by officials in a foreign country, allowing a traveler to visit the country for a specific period of time. Not all countries require a visa, and there are many different types of visas depending on the country, reason for travel and length of stay. Depending upon how many times a visitor will be entering the country, one of the following will also apply:

  • A Single Entry Visa lets the holder visit a country one time before requiring a new visa.
  • A Double Entry Visa lets the holder visit a country two times before requiring a new visa.
  • A Multiple Entry Visa lets the holder visit a country as many times as they want as long as the visa is still valid.

Not all countries require visas, so be sure to check with the specific country you are visiting ahead of time. A visa is not a guarantee that any visitor will be allowed entrance into the country, as immigration officials at the border or airport generally have the final authority.

The two main types of visas typically needed for international travelers are a Business Visa or a Tourist/Travel Visa.

Business Visa

A Business Visa is for travelers visiting another country for a limited period of time specifically for the purpose of commercial meetings, discussions, negotiations or similar activities. Business Visas are usually insufficient for travelers who will undertake work or temporary work assignments in a country.

Tourist/Travel Visa

A Tourist/Travel Visa is for travelers visiting a country for tourist reasons, or visiting friends and relatives for a limited time period. Tourist visas are not sufficient for travelers who will be conducting business during their stay in the specified country, nor are they sufficient for travelers who will undertake work or temporary work assignments in that country.

HOW TO GET A TRAVEL OR  BUSINESS VISA

There are two main ways of getting a visa – one is going directly through the foreign government(s) of the country(s) to which you are traveling, and the other is through an expediting service.

How to get a visa through a foreign government:

To get a business or travel visa yourself, you must work directly with the consulate or the embassy of the country (or countries) you wish to visit. Each country has its own policies for providing visas, so make sure to look closely at each specific country you are visiting. The following government Web site provides a comprehensive array of information about visa services: https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/country.html

How to get a visa through an expediting service:

Using an expediting service may enable you to speed up the process, getting your visa in some cases as quickly as 1-3 days. This service also provides a convenient method of processing, by letting the expeditors walk your visa through the application process for you. This can help ensure you get your visa in a timely manner. There are several visa expediting service available, including:

passport services by its easy.com

It’s Easy

rushmypassport passport services

RushMyPassport.com

 
travel document systems passport servicesTravelDocs.com

VisaHQ.com

For general information and non-expedited travel visa orders, please visit the U.S. Department of State’s travel visa site.

US Dept of State passport services

U.S. Department of State

DON’T FORGET YOUR BIRTH CERTIFICATE!

A certified birth certificate may be required as identity documentation to be sent along with your application for a Travel Visa – order a certified copy through VitalChek Express Certificate Service.

Real IDs

The Real ID Act requires that state-issued IDs and driver’s licenses follow specific regulations in order to be accepted by the Federal Government for official purposes (including boarding commercial airline flights, entering federal establishments and entering nuclear power plants) as defined by Homeland Security. This Act denies the use of state-issued IDs and licenses for use in official purposes from states that do not meet, or are not compliant with, these federal standards.  Learn more about Real ID.