Category Archives: Uncategorized

Avoid these Passport Mistakes!

Are you making easy-to-miss mistakes with your passport and related information?

Your passport is a valuable and powerful document, so it seriously pays to ensure that it’s always available and valid for ease of travel!

Read below to avoid unpleasantries on your next date of travel!

Make a Photocopy!

As you can probably deduce, a photocopy of your passport can’t exactly  be used for travel!

However, this useful document is clutch to have on hand! When you’re off to travel, leave a photocopy of your passport at home with someone that you really trust, and take at least one copy to go with you.

Then, if you passport is lost or stolen while traveling (fear not!), it will undoubtedly be much easier to get a new passport at the nearest US Embassy or Consulate if you have a photocopy of your lost passport to present.

While traveling abroad, a photocopy of your passport can also be incredibly useful when you are checking in to your temporary residence, hotel, hostel, etc… Most hotels, at least, are strictly required to register the passport details of their foreign guests, and in certain countries, some will ask you to leave your actual passport at the front desk while they fill out the messy paperwork.

Of course, If you have a photocopy with you at a time like this, you can just show them your original passport book and freely leave the photocopy at that front desk! Protection is paramount!

Sign Your Passport

You may not be aware that your brand spankin’ new passport is not technically fully valid until It’s rightly signed.

In fact, many countries and territories will not allow you to use an unsigned passport to enter and It’s an even bigger issue if you have to apply for a visa before your time of travel.

When you do receive your shiny new passport, follow these simple guidelines and stay in the clear:

  • Be sure to sign your passport in blue or black ink and not with a pencil, marker, etc…
  • Remember to sign your passport with your full name as listed on your passport! This includes your middle name!
  • You should know that children under age 16 may sign their own passports but the passport must also be signed by at least one parent/guardian.

Be sure to message us at ePassportPhoto to get quick guidance from our representatives!

Longing for Las Angeles

Don’t be overwhelmed by the prospect of a short stay in California’s heartland! We’ve got you covered on the classic to-do’s!

Venture to Venice Beach

The iconic Venice Beach has always been a famed destination for a wild blast of California culture and although it gets more than its fair share of tourist masses, the one of a kind beachfront welcomes an adventurous spirit.

This spot is a prime location for people watching, skateboarders, and body builders alike.

You’ll encounter every vendor, artist, and musician you never thought you meet, in this most excellent hub for true LA “freaks!” Relax by the ocean and enjoy a healthy shot of California.

Hit Hollywood

As you may have guessed, Hollywood celebs are never too far away in historic LA. To spot your favorite entertainer and catch a true glimpse of “stardust,” walk the legendary Walk of Fame. Here, well over 2,400 figures from the entertainment world (both old and new) are immortalized in a dazzling sidewalk display.

This place is a serious relic of a time long gone and if you’re a film buff at all, keep your eyes peeled for the famous hand and footprints at a true Hollywood staple, The Chinese Theater. Infinite premieres have passed through its red and gold facade, adding to the renowned pagoda’s star status.

No matter how chaotic, Hollywood maintains a distinct charm.

Art 101 at The Getty

In a completely unique California landscape, The Getty Center is the undisputed envy of museums worldwide for its incredibly generous endowments and its breathtaking hilltop grounds.

Though different from collections of European galleries, it has some seriously impressive masterpieces, which cover a huge span in art history.

Among these works are several paintings by Monet, Renoir, Cézanne and even Van Gogh.

The French decorative arts, the blossoming photography collection, and the sculpture garden are must see’s!

Live it Up on Rodeo Drive

Let’s face it-few can afford to buy from the vast cornucopia of of high-end designers seen in “the movies,” so window-shopping is a serious treat for the commercially curious!

Along the breath-taking cobbled walkway, tourists and regular shoppers mingle with high rollers.

Nearby is the famed Anderson Court, which is the only shopping mall ever to be designed by the legendary Frank Lloyd Wright.

Be sure to message us at ePassportPhoto to get quick guidance from our representatives!

Big Plans for the Big Apple

Unsure about what to do with your time in “The Big Apple?”

Don’t squander this brilliant opportunity, but don’t be overwhelmed, either!

We’ve got you covered with just a few tips for an unforgettable NYC adventure…

Walk the Brooklyn Bridge

Ok, so the city may be packed with selfie-stick wielding tourists and vehicle commotion…but walking over the iconic Brooklyn Bridge is a quintessential New York experience, and not one to be missed! To get some absolutely breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline, don’t miss the walk from the Brooklyn side of the bridge over to Manhattan.

If you’re looking to beat the rush, the best times to go are in the early morning or in the evening, when you can enjoy to a most spectacular city sunset!

Stay at the famous Carlyle Hotel

The Carlyle, a luxurious mainstay of the NYC hotel fame has temporarily housed royalty, celebs, and political figures, alike. So maybe It’s just not in the budget-fear not, city travelers! You can enjoy the bar all the same! And who knows, maybe you’ll run into some royal drinking buddies or a Hollywood starlet, at the very least.

Lounge at Central Park

What needs to be said about this of this playful green ocean in the nucleus of the city. Sure, the images you’ve seen are unbelievably beautiful and sprawling, but until you can see the vastness for yourself, you may be missing out on incredibly obvious treasure!

Get up on the most unbelievable summer roster of free, dazzling shows! Summerstage boasts the hottest lineups for the hottest time of year (summer months).

Of course, the Central Park Zoo is a must for those with little ones in the party!

Meet some of the most exotic creatures in this bizarre urban oasis.

Hit Fifth Ave

It doesn’t matter if you’re seeking to spend-Fifth Avenue is home to some of the finest shopping opportunities in the entire world!

Start at the legendary New York Public Library, as you wind your way north, and stop at all of the fashion fixtures of this style capital! Finish off your big day out with a Park Avenue dinner and some earth-shattering views. The cityscape is sure to knock your socks off.

Catch a Free Flick in Bryant Park

A movie in the park may sound cheesy or juvenile but It’s absolutely a classic New York affair! Kicking your feet up at Bryant Park is a free and unforgettable night for any happy couple!

Alongside the New York Public Library and some classic mechanical marvels, like the American Radiator building, this park is a breath of fresh air!

Summer movie nights bring everyone together, so bring your picnic blanket!

Be sure to message us at ePassportPhoto to get quick guidance from our representatives!

Longing for London?

So much to do, so little time!

You’ve heard this all before, but let’s face it-London is pretty loaded with unforgettable destinations!

We’ll help you decide how to plan your stay without the hassle!

Hyde Park is definitely one of the most famous parks in London, and It’s also one of the biggest! The space boasts a serious historical significance, as a number of pivotal demonstrations took place here over British history. Suffragettes fought valiantly for the right to vote at this site, and the famous Speaker’s Corner is still occupied by debates and protests today.

On the Serpentine, you can go paddle-boating, and see glorious swan, all while taking in a serious breath of fresh air in the city center.

Westminster is regarded as a political center of London and is also home to the Houses of Parliament! Of course, we could never forget about Big Ben, the bell housed within the iconic clock tower (it still chimes every hour, on the hour).

You can also find Westminster Abbey here, which is usually open to the public! While visiting these essential British landmarks, don’t forget to kick your feet up in Parliament Square, graced by the beautiful life-size sculptures of Nelson Mandela and Winston Churchill.

Camden is a culturally-rich neighborhood in north London, known for its bustling nightlife, goths, punks, rockabillies and tourists alike! Camden Market is an ethnically-diverse and highly stimulating experience, in itself, with street food from international cuisines, and plenty of vendors with artwork that would make any gift-giver a happy camper.

Dig through endless vintage clothing racks, find a “far out” book to take on your upcoming travels, or visit the city’s best vegan bakery called “Cookies And Scream.”

 

OK, fine-I guess a trip to London isn’t complete until you see the London Eye which was originally constructed to celebrate the new millennium! The Eye is better known as that giant ferris wheel you’ve seen in pictures!

With its breathtaking views across the city, the wheel is lit up in seasonal colors and is the absolute centerpiece of London’s New Year’s fireworks display, which happens every year.

One can enjoy one of these spacious pods with other travelers or “live it up” ad splurge on a private pod for you and your special someone!

Be sure to message us at ePassportPhoto to get quick guidance from our representatives!

Your Top To-Do in San Fran!

San Franciso is an undeniable California gem! Don’t miss the abundant opportunities to get to know this sourdough-loving city!

Golden Gate Bridge by foot!

Walking, biking, or simply venturing across the bridge is a free, yet unforgettable adventure for tourists and residents alike. Travelers can soak up the soaring towers, magnificent city skyline, or the jeweled Pacific Ocean stretching distantly into the horizon.

The Golden Gate never fails to impress, even when blanketed by fog. Don’t miss the most highly photographed bridge in the world (It’s for a reason).

Ferry Building produce shopping!

For a full three days a week ( Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays (up until 2pm)), scores of food-frenzied shoppers can be found happily surveying the overflowing produce stands of the Ferry Building Marketplace, an iconic destination where up to 75 regional farmers and artisan food purveyors of specialty goods offer a daunting array of organic produce, and gourmet snacks, oils, meats, cheeses and baked goods.

This place even boasts beautiful flowers! Local companies like Acme Bread and Blue Bottle Coffee enjoy a permanent home here!

Dumpings at Yank Sing!

The enticing scent emanating from the iconic dumplings at Yank Sing are so irresistible, you’ll probably down the things before finding out what’s in them.

Amazingly fresh and impressively flavorful dim sum is undoubtedly what keeps this longtime restaurant thriving in an unsuspecting wing of a looming office complex. Notable dished include shanghai dumplings with pork, scallion, ginger and a hot broth, and stuffed crab claws!

Hop on the Cable Cars!

San Francisco’s beautiful cable cars are a real relic of a time long gone. Three cable car lines depart from Union Square and the end of California Street, traveling at top speeds of a sluggish yet enjoyable 9 mph through some really prime San Francisco gems! Ride the rails and make some memories-save the cab fare, while you’re at it!

Be sure to message us at ePassportPhoto to get quick guidance from our representatives!

Airport Passport Lines-the long and short of it!

Anybody who’s ever flown knows that airports can be a massive time suck!

However, some airports are much better at getting hurried travelers swiftly through pesky passport security than others!

As you might imagine, the top airports which experience the highest number of international flights also have some of the longest wait times for getting passports properly examined.

John F. Kennedy airport, an undeniable fixture of the New York City landscape, receives 14.6 million travelers arriving from abroad every single year! Similarly, Miami International Airport sees more than 10 million international arrivals every year! The result? You guessed it-the longest average wait times, with both airports coming in at around 25-30 minutes.

Frighteningly, some passengers experience wait times of more than 50 minutes! At both of these above travel hubs, about a 1/4 of the returning American passengers had to wait in line for more than 30 minutes before they cleared US immigration! What a headache!

When considering other major airports, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Orlando had among the longest waits for passport control!. These lines were clocking in at 20 minutes and up in average wait time.

Don’t worry, travelers! Not every major international airport is as slow as the above.

Phoenix Sky Harbor and Washington Dulles, for example, are also are busy airports that usually get returning passengers through those troublesome gates in about 11 minutes (or less).

Interestingly, JFK’s main competition, Newark Liberty Airport, is a surprisingly efficient option, with average wait times of 17 minutes at passport checkpoints.

The winner in this speed-demon countdown? Chicago-Midway Airport, which clears passengers through passport control in an average of only 9 minutes, is a model to strive for!

Here’s a common question for frequent flyers: Are small airports faster than the rest?

While those smaller airports have the advantage of receiving fewer passengers, they won’t always have shorter lines at passport control. However, there will typically be fewer US Customs and Border Patrol agents working at one time, meaning that just one or two large flights arriving can massively disrupt immigration lines.

Be sure to message us at ePassportPhoto to get quick guidance from our representatives!

Passport Renewal Documents

As you’ve probably noticed by now (if you’re a passport-holder), US passports have an expiration date and of course, this is taken seriously.

Read here to find out what you’ll need in order to renew that pesky passport!

If you’ve obtained a passport when you when you were younger than 16, that document would expire in five years.

If you were 16 or older at the time of the passport issue, the lifespan is ten years!

It is monumentally important to renew your passport when required, as some countries will refuse entry unless your passport is valid for six months after your scheduled time abroad.

The amount of documentation needed for passport renewal depends on whether or not you meet some specific conditions for renewal via mail, and not in person at a government agency.

Your passport must:

  • Be in top condition,
  • Have been issued when you were 16 or older,
  • Not be older than 15 years
  • Issued in your current name (unless you’ve had a legal name change).

Do you meet these conditions? If so, you can send in Form DS-82, your current passport, two passport photos, and application fee (sorry).

DS-11 is another form to be completed if the above conditions are met. As for the photos, they must be high quality, have been taken in the past six months and show an accurate representation of your appearance.

Additionally, those applicants who are applying in person must be able to prove United States citizenship by presenting an undamaged United States passport, birth certificate issued by a city, county or state government, a certificate of citizenship, a certification of birth, etc…

Don’t worry-these documents will surely be returned to you after the application process is complete.

Finally, remember to bring you personal identification!

Be sure to message us at ePassportPhoto to get quick guidance from our representatives!

Work It! Modeling for your Home Shoot!

Passports and passport photos seem to stick around a while, no?

We’re pretty certain that you want your passport photo to look decent, if not stunning and tabloid worthy! We’ve all had photos taken that makes us look older, tired, unwell, etc…

Here’s some quick glamour tips to keep cool when your camera heats things up!

Unsurprisingly, the first thing to consider is the selected attire for your big photo shoot. Keep in mind that the passport photo will present the area of your shoulders/collarbone/head, so what you wear below the waist is largely unimportant!

Be sure to look at the photo in your current passport (assuming this is a retake), and make sure you pick an outfit that is noticeably different than the one that you wore in your last passport photo. Remember, on the off-chance that your new photo looks too much like the old one, it could absolutely be rejected, as the passport agency will not be able to confidently confirm that it was taken in the last six months! This is essential to the passport photo process!

As a rule of them, men are best off wearing business-type dress, although, of course, that’s wide open to interpretation. Obviously, you just cannot go wrong with a suit and tie look. We understand that not every man is a GQ model and as such, if you lead a more casual lifestyle, we’d recommend that you wear a shirt with a classic collar, like a button-down dress shirt or even a less intimidating golf shirt.

The thinking here is that if you ever have to present your passport to obtain a business visa, or show it to a new employer as part of your “new hire” paperwork, you’ll be thanking yourself that this passport photo presents your true, professional self, in the best light possible!

As low cut tops/dresses are really common attire, there is the “I look naked in my photo!” phenomenon that can occur! Fear not, as this is a super avoidable issue to do with cropping and outfit choice!

As the background of the final image will be white, both men and women should definitely consider wearing a color (something that Isn’t black or white). Your photo will have to have a plain white or cream background, so a colored shirt will help ensure your photo doesn’t look washed out/that you don’t seemingly disappear. Pick your favorite and have a little fun!

On the day of your shoot, be sure to practice that pose before you snap the day away. As you know, your passport will need to show you looking straight forward (at the camera) with a neutral expression! Lastly, remember to sit up straight and roll your shoulders back to elongate and stretch your neck muscles-keep away that pesky cramping.

Finally, be sure to message us at ePassportPhoto to get quick guidance from our representatives!

The AU Continued!

The rise of a strengthening African Union and the resulting passport legislative change has created unrest and excitement, alike!

What exactly will and has changed?

To start, Nigeria’s tourism and closely-related hospitality industry might financially overtake the mighty oil sector in just a few years, if projections and trends hold true!

With the recent launch of the African Union (AU) passport and its subsequent adoption by the country’s legislators, this would be fantastic news to the African nation.

The advent of the Pan-African passport also (by design) allows for free movement of domestic tourists into the country and throughout the continent in an EU-modeled system.

Reactions unsurprisingly range from enthused, to disgruntled.

The resulting opportunities presented by the unified African passport absolutely outweigh the potential/imagined threats to national, continental, and global security, according to many. Since Nigeria’s mainstay, oil, might not provide enough of a lift to the economy, the government will be and has been seeking alternative methods of generating revenue.

The harsh reality of these dwindling oil prices (a result of the fall in foreign exchange) is now being experienced across all sectors and as such, many leading experts in the industry are brainstorming on diversification possibilities to prevent Nigeria from entering a recession.

As a result of these changes and to meet the demands for an ever-changing economic climate, Nigerian leaders have boosted the hospitality industry, along with the sectors with the most opportunities for projected growth in the next few years.

Breaking this long-standing barrier of free and east travel for other African countries to make its way to Nigeria, is an undeniably powerful way of accelerating the growth of the hospitality industry!

Of course, it should be say that this collective vision of the unified AU passport will also have some cause for concern attached it, such as an unregulated flow of migrants from one country to another!

Finally, be sure to message us at ePassportPhoto to get quick guidance from our representatives!

Baby Photo Quick Tips!

Are you racing to get that tricky passport photo just right?

We know how hard it can be to get your little one to sit still, let alone pose!

Check out some tips to consider when taking your baby’s passport photo!

If you’re taking a trip abroad and you suddenly realize your special little someone needs to get his or her passport done, don’t hesitate! Although the task may at first, seem daunting, it can be as painless as taking the photo for yourself with the inclusion of these simple moves.

Worry not, weary travelers and passport-holders! We are here to help! These tips will give you some direction and confidence to get this thing done!

  • We suggest that you use a totally plain, white background for your baby’s passport photo. If white simply isn’t possible, any light-colored background will do as it can still be easily edited later. Cream and off-white are also options for suitable background color. Whatever you do, It is essential that the background is plain!
  • Your baby/the subject’s face should be evenly lit, so as to avoid the usual shadow problem that plagues passport photos. Remember, some babies are sensitive to flash so using natural light is a really good and infant-friendly alternative!
  • Be sure to avoid dressing your baby in white tops or otherwise white outfits, as they will seemingly disappear into the background of the image.
  • This tip is invaluable! Try engaging your understandably unenthused little one by using a toy or even his/her favorite TV show to encourage cooperation and fun! Remember, the goal is for the subject’s eyes to look into the lens, so you’ll want to place the object as close as possible to the lens and not above the camera! Additionally, placing the source of distraction too far beyond the camera would be pretty ineffective, as the baby’s post/eye positioning would be skewed.
  • Try to be patient and take as many shots as possible in one! This way, you can make a selection after the series of photos have been taken. Trust us, this is better than having to re-shoot after every few attempts!

Finally, be sure to message us at ePassportPhoto to get quick guidance from our representatives!

Canadian Passport Update!

As of last year, the federal government ushered in major changes to the way Canadian passports are formally issued!

These changes have the potential to speed up the renewal process for obtaining a passport on the go, but what’s the flip side? 

As with any freedom granted/supported by a government agency, the change is likely to enable forgery, fraud, and identity theft, especially troubling and plausible in our current global climate of heightened security.

An internal communication issued by this Canadian governmental agency last year explained that the changes were intended to allow online applications and no longer require the return of the old passport!

What’s the replacement method of passport destruction here?

Travelers will be told to “cut the corners” of the document, without any means of verifying that this has, in fact, been done! The change took effect on Nov. 1, 2015, for online applications and Dec. 14, 2015, for paper-based applications that are manually received.

What are the potential consequences?

This decree was issued despite the department’s own internal analysis warning of significant security risks, both domestic, and abroad!

Even though the old passport are to be cancelled in the system, it will look still by all means appear to be a valid passport, meaning that the holder could travel to any of the countries in the world that do not have a substantial agreement with Canada to share a certain set of data. What list is this, you ask? The government keeps track of all cancelled/expired travel documents and it is essential to national security that this information gets conveyed to the world’s often disconnected territories.

Canada’s previously issued ordinances required an old travel document to be returned with the application for a new one, after which it was immediately cancelled electronically and physically, as well! How? A simple perforation with a two-hole punch sufficed. The document was then securely destroyed or returned to the applicant.

Obviously, passports and in particular, passports in great condition are of extremely high value on the black market, especially in the Middle East and parts of Africa. This change in policy in a time of growing insurgencies, extremism and a complex global stage where security requires international collaboration and cooperation on all fronts.

Finally, be sure to message us at ePassportPhoto to get quick guidance from our representatives!

More on Taxes and Your Passport!

A controversial law sought to authorize the revocation AND refusal of US passports to those who owed taxes to the government – Who has this affected and how?

Back in December of 2015, President Obama approved a unique piece of legislation titled “Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act.” FAST Act provides long-term funding for surface transportation in the US.

This incredibly important and historic piece of legislation affects US taxpayers regardless of where where they reside, simply based on the history of their taxes. This add on has been tacked to the US Internal Revenue Code as a new section (7345) which grants the US State Department the right to revoke or deny passports to any applicant with ‘seriously delinquent tax debt’. Of course, “significant” is not left open-ended here.

Still, this alterations has had significant implications for US taxpayers who travel and/or live outside the United States, whether you currently owe taxes, or could in the near future.

Here, the definition of seriously delinquent debt is tax liability greater than $50,000!

It should be noted that the State Department and not the IRS has the power to revoke or deny any US taxpayer a passport, at any point (although the situation must dictate this decision).

Under this section 7345, the IRS commissioner needs to make a case of ‘seriously delinquent tax debt’ to the Treasury secretary, who is then responsible for transmitting that information to the secretary of State. From there, the decision to certify is based on the aforementioned advice of the IRS, which compiles a sort of “naughty” list.

Additionally, many US taxpayers with significantly smaller tax deficiencies could be affected, as well. The threshold includes penalties and interest, meaning that this law provides for humanitarian and emergency exceptions.

Finally, be sure to message us at ePassportPhoto to get quick guidance from our representatives!

Indian Passports and Police Verification

What does this seemingly minuscule decision change?

The announcement holds a great deal of weight, as travel security, and economic stability is inextricably linked to passports and their perceived value.

With this alteration to the law books, for the reissue of passports, police verification is no longer required (only if the first passport had been issued on the basis of positive police report).

Additionally, the decision will have a tangible and significant impact on some applicants who face a delay due to the mandatory police verification for re-issuance of their passport.

In accordance with existing regulations, minors, government workers, and senior citizens (65 years and above) are exempt from police verification subject to certain conditions. As of this month, there have been reports confirming a proposal (under consideration) to discontinue ‘Tatkaal’ system for issuing passports for urgent travel needs.

In India, this system is used to expedite the passport process, much like the American services offered by government-approved agencies.

As improvements are made in the standard passport delivery process, the use of Tatkaal passport has been steadily decreasing from 11 per cent in 2012-13 to six per cent in 2014-15.

Of course, the method is required under dire circumstances!

In the meantime, the indian Home Ministry is working on a country-wide police verification project for passports, to be launched online. This feature is expected to cut down the time required for issuing the travel document from a month, to just one week! Said project is expected to be launched from Bengaluru in this coming November.

Finally, be sure to message us at ePassportPhoto to get quick guidance from our representatives!

Tips for Expediting Your Passport Process!

Plain and simple-you’re in a hurry and need that government-issued passport fast! Here’s some quick tips to get you where you’re going faster!

  • If you need a passport photo taken, your best bet is to use the leading service in passport photo service, ePassportPhoto, and more specifically, their same day pickup service. This will connect you with trained representatives who are eager to assist, and a guarantee that you’ll meet your application deadline.
  • Packets with passport materials sent by mail should also be sent using a traceable delivery method, due to the sensitivity of said documents, images, etc…
  • If you’re traveling to Canada, Mexico and islands in the Caribbean, it is recommended that you consider applying for a passport card instead of your actual passport book. The passport card can be a form of ID and you’re likely to find it more convenient and conducive to quick and easy travel. Additionally, be sure to apply for a passport early and avoid expedited service fees, which can rack up and dip into your travel budget as a result! Applications for renewals should be submitted roughly nine months before the expiration date (because of the 6-month validity rule required by some countries/territories.
  • If you do have upcoming travel plans, make sure that the passport you will be using has at least six months of validity left on it, as you won’t be allowed to travel if your passport expires in six months or less!
  • Finally, be sure to message us at ePassportPhoto to get quick guidance from our representatives!

Single African Passport

The inception of the single African passport has dominated headlines earlier this summer, and understandably so.

Still, what is it and who is able to use it?

The document is officially known as the African Union or (AU) e-Passport and is actually electronic! This streamlined passport grants those who possess it access to any of the AU member states, of which there are 54-yeah, I’d say that’s a good deal.

This incredibly desirable e-Passport has significance beyond its obvious travel-enabling capabilities. It’s seen as a key step toward the AU’s ultimate shared vision of a continent where borders are valued less than the freedom and unity of those contained by them. Supporters of the document hope the visa will improve travel and thusly, trade, in Africa.

The African Union has been citing 2020 as the new start date for visa-free continental travel. Without a doubt, the launch of the e-Passport is seen as important step toward that very goal. This single passport model is based on the European Union’s success with a similar schema. The territory is called the Schengen Area, and is comprised of 26 European countries that abolished visa requirements for travel (between fellow members).To be in accordance with these ever-changing passport trends and regulations, certain African regions have also eliminated or relaxed their visa policies, generally.

What’s the catch, you say?

Critics of the passport say that without a visa program, Africa would allow terrorists to travel more easily between countries. As security concerns heighten at home and abroad, this could prove problematic. Additionally, some fear that the passport could increase competition for jobs, especially in smaller African countries. Surprisingly, the funds attained from visa fees has become a really important source of income for embassies, another under-considered consequence of said policy.

The single African visa will move close to a greater vision and projected path that has been years in the making. As early as 1980, the Organization of African Unity called for exactly these types of policies that would promote free movement within African countries.

Finally, be sure to message us at ePassportPhoto to get quick guidance from our representatives!

Passport Security!

Passport theft is serious business and needless to say, it can happen in the blink of an eye!

Here’s some of the most common methods by which “scammers” take advantage of passport-holding travelers!

  • One common methods of theft is for the guilty party to simply walks off with a tourist’s passport! How can such an obvious scheme come to be?

Many thieves pose as a police officer or other law enforcement officials and stop their victims for fabricated questioning. This method is commonly referred to as “The Imposter.”

  • Some con artists will mark, stain, or otherwise damage a passport-holders clothes in order to enter another ploy-beware of these thieves who then attempt to help “clean up” the orchestrated mess.

Here, the perpetrator steals the passport from the victim’s pocket while they are distracted by this apparent misfortune. This method is commonly referred to as “The Clean Up.”

  • Beware of hotel and other merchant interactions, as leaving your travel documents on a table or concierge desk could lead to a swift swipe!
  • One final cheat involves a tourist who is seated at a cafe, restaurant, or other establishment, has their passport in the pocket of their jacket hanging on the chair, and ultimately, has it is stolen by a thief who has taken a seat behind them (usually pretending to reach into his pocket).

Stay safe, alert, and travel happy!

Finally, be sure to message us at ePassportPhoto to get quick guidance from our representatives!

What Does Your Passport Color Mean, Anyway?

Passport look and color isn’t exactly something that folks brag about! 

Passport users can’t specify the text surrounding their likeness, the aesthetic for the stamped pages, the cover color, etc…  

But do the colors have any significance, at all?

The documents famously come in shades of red, green, blue, and black. To the surprise of many curious travelers, the color of your passport does not follow a strict system of country by country regulation—however, the colors are not totally random!

Red Passports

Red passport covers are used by members of the European Union (with the exception being Croatia). In a sort of branding attempt, countries interested in obtaining EU membership have followed suit. In one region that is known for collective (past) interests in EU participation, including Colombia and Peru, red passports are standard.

FUN FACT: The Swiss passport cover matches their flag!

Blue Passports

Caribbean states/territories typically use blue for their passports, although it’s common in other far reaches of the globe, too. Brazil and Argentina, for example, all boast blue passports.

FUN FACT: The United States’ passport only became navy blue in 1976 to match the shade of the American Flag’s star-spangled upper-left corner.

Green Passports

Most Islamic states of the middle east use green passport covers because of the importance of the color in their religion, flag, etc…Other nations that utilize the color scheme include West African States like Niger and Senegal.

Black Passports

There’s another far more practical interpretation for selecting passport colors, for certain territories, that is. Dark colors tend to show less dirt and as a result, tend to look more official/legitimate. Examples include Zambia, and New Zealand!

FUN FACT: The U.S. passport is about to see some radical changes, and while the design has yet to be released to the American public, we know that this country has a history of changing its passport cover, again and again!

Finally, be sure to message us at ePassportPhoto to get quick guidance from our representatives!

London Does Business!

A huge part of London‘s draw as an international financial hub is undeniably the allowed access to the internal market of the wider European Economic Area, also commonly referred to as the EEA. 

As new alliances arise and old territorial holdings fall, what does this mean for such a business center?

Licenses issued by the UK, when used as passports, allow foreign financial firm to lend their financial expertise throughout the EEA. However, if the UK cannot secure a means to stay within the internal market, the UK will inevitably lose these rights/freedoms of operation.

Of course, this internal market is navigated via a strong network of rules and regulations. These formalities permit access to other EEA member states ONLY if a firm has obtained the proper license in one of these member states.

This particular system of complete, unrestricted access based on a single passport is specific to the EEA and as a result, if the UK were to leave the EEA, the results would be disruptive to say the least.

Additionally, an extra license would be absolutely necessary for all forms of cross-territory services, such as the establishment of a new branch or subsidiary across these national boundaries/borders. This would make the UK become the third country that now needs to find a point of access through which to conduct business in the EEA. Moreover, EEA financial institutions would be required to apply directly for a license to enter the United Kingdom!

Finally, be sure to message us at ePassportPhoto to get quick guidance from our representatives!

More on Brexit!

Brexit has left international unrest and resulting confusion! What does this mean for passport holders?After the infamous British vote to leave the European Union in recent months, many are left with unanswered questions and lingering frustration about how these changes will affect travel plans and in a greater sense, one’s mobility.

Fear not, worried and weary travelers! Changes to passport and travel opportunities will not take hold for an expected two year transition period. w

When these changes are enacted, and for some, travel abilities are strained, many are wondering what will happen when they need new passports for their children.

Here are some quick and easy guidelines for the best approach to obtaining a child’s passport!

If your child is due to turn 16 years of age in a short while, you’ll need to apply for an adult

passport (the age restriction is carefully observed, so beware!). Otherwise, individuals will have
to apply for a standard, ten year adult passport.
Be aware that legally, parental responsibility is required in order for a caretaker/guardian to apply on their behalf. To be more specific, however, if you adopted your child overseas, before June 1st 2003, your child doesn’t automatically qualify for a British passport (this is true even if one of the subject’s parents is a British citizen).Children must meet the following requirements to be eligible for a British passport:

  • The child must be a British citizen
  • The child must be a British overseas citizen
  • The child must be an overseas territories citizen

If this is the child’s first passport, then the process is as simple as applying for the passport online! If you need to renew or replace an old passport, you can complete this simple process in the exact same way, but sure to indicate the correct type of passport and desired country/territory (duh).

There are options out there to help speed things up, so it doesn’t have to be such a nightmare.

Gov.uk usually recommend a three-wait for getting a new passport, but they have some great options ranging in price and speed.

 

Finally, be sure to message us at ePassportPhoto to get quick guidance from our representatives!

Extra Pages? Think Again!

Beginning this year, the U.S. government has enacted a big change in passport policy! They’ve even been forcing frequent travelers to get new passports!

Why?

Some frequent flyers and business folk alike are proud to show their airplane seat buddies a particularly well-travelled passport. This may include additional pages that were added on beyond the document’s initial printing in order to accommodate these overflowing government-issued stamps.

Since this change, which was enacted on January first, travelers are no longer be able to get extra pages added to their passports!

The government’s State Department cited security concerns for the alteration, but they did deliver the public with a possible alternative option to getting a new passport entirely: a new 52-page passport, which is a whopping twice the size of the usual 28-page document.

Travelers are able to choose whether they’d like the 28-pager or the doubled version, and both are fortunately at the same cost to passport-seekers.

This massive change to frequent flyers is the second passport-related announcement made by the U.S. government last year (in a rather short period), in addition to the government being able to deny passports for people who owe significant back taxes to the IRS.

Finally, be sure to message us at ePassportPhoto to get quick guidance from our representatives!

Best Travel Spots for Fall!

September approaches rapidly and poses some amazing getaway opportunities ahead!

Stay up to date on the best fall travel destinations and get where you’re going faster and easier with http://www.ePassportPhoto.com!

Oktoberfest (Germany)

Although many festivals and international events seek to replicate the magic of Germany’s Oktoberfest, the original Munich celebration runs from September 19th to October 4th annually! The festivities are enjoyed by an average of 6 million beer fanatics from around the globe.
Tourists and locals alike get in the mood with traditional dirndls and lederhosen, a certain crowd pleaser for a glimpse into another world of rich cultural tradition.
Be sure to save room for some of the finest pretzels and wurst on the planet, with enough sauerkraut and fixings to go around!
Fear not, non-drinkers! Amusement seekers should hone in on the dazzling, expansive fair grounds and roller coaster rides!

Grizzlies in British Columbia, Canada

For most of the year, brown bear (aka grizzly bear) are understandably shy around people and as a result, we don’t get many opportunities for viewing the beasts.In British Columbia, Canada, that all changes in the fall, when these masters of the forest descend on rivers and streams to feast on the spawning salmon there.
From late August until early October, adventurers can enjoy a glimpse of these wild and exhilarating feeding frenzies. Visitors get practically guaranteed closeup of grizzlies!
Take advantage of Bear Camp,where migratory bears meet a large human population in reliable masses. This particular site is on the bewildering Chilko River in central BC and the hidden tented camp built around a rustic, authentic fishing lodge offers unbelievable bear watching possibilities!
This sort of playground for people and bears is a must see!

Shoulder season in the Caribbean

The Caribbean’s sandy scenes are unparalleled in natural beauty. In the fall, these paradise setting are less crowded than in the bustling winter months. Additionally, hotel rates are considerably lower at this time of year! These savings can be tremendous and should not be underestimated in planning a dream vacation abroad!
Hurricane season does happen to coincide with this relaxed time in the Caribbean, but historically, islands like Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao have an incredibly low chance of being hit!

Day of the Dead (Mexico)

El Dia de Muertos has been subject to undeniable cultural appropriation and misunderstanding in recent years, but there’s much more to this complex and beautiful ritual than many seem to understand!
Respectful and open-minded travelers in the country are invited by locals enacting ancient traditions to honor deceased children, known as “angelitos” on November 1st and similarly, deceased adults are honored on November 2nd.
Each shrine includes pictures of the deceased individual, beloved food, drinks, skull-shaped treats, candles and the coveted cempasuchil, known as the Aztec marigold (flower of the dead).
Day of the Dead festivals take place across Mexico and each region celebrates a little differently.
Some of the most elaborate  of these festivities are held in Mexico City and Michoacan!
Finally, be sure to message us at ePassportPhoto to get quick guidance from our representatives!

Canadian Passports!

The requirements for Canadian passport photos are significantly different from those in the United States! Got travel plans? Stay in the loop and get there without a hassle!

A notable difference here is that photos must have proof from a commercial photographer and also, like in all territories, your photos must comply with the Government of Canada’s Passport Program photo requirements. If not, you face rejection by the government agency!

You must submit two identical photos with each passport application.

Passport Rules for Canada:

  • The image must be taken in person by a commercial photographer (or signed as such).
  • The image must be 50 mm wide X 70 mm high (2 inches wide X 2- 3/4 inches long) and sized so that the height of the subject’s face measures between 31 mm (1- 1/4 inches) and 36 mm (1- 7/16 inches) from chin to head.
  • The image must be sharp and clearly in focus.
  • The image(s) may be in color or in black and white.
  • The image must be taken with a neutral facial expression.
  • The image must be taken with uniform lighting without shadows, glare or flash.
  • The image must be taken straight on, with the subject’s face and shoulders centered.
  • The image must be taken in front of a plain white or light-colored background with a clear difference between the subject’s face and the passport photo background.
  • The image must be an original that is not altered or taken from an existing photo

Additional Info:

  • Glasses are permitted to be worn in photos, as long as the eyes are clearly visible and without glare.
  • Sunglasses and tinted eye glasses, however, are unacceptable.
  • Photos with the red-eye effect or red eye alterations are unacceptable.
  • Hats and head coverings, unless worn for religious/medical purposes, are prohibited.
  • The subject’s hair can worn “down.”
  • Heavy shadows are not acceptable and lighting must be uniform.

Child Photos

  • The image must be taken to show the child’s head and shoulders only. This means that parent’s or child’s hands must not appear in the photo.
  • Luckily, the Canadian Passport Program recognizes the difficulty in obtaining a neutral expression of a newborn and will allow for some wiggle room here.
  • For newborn babies, the photo may be taken while the child is sitting in a car seat, as long as a white blanket is placed over the seat behind the child’s head (to create that required white background).

Finally, be sure to message us at ePassportPhoto to get quick guidance from our representatives!

South and Central American Summer Getaways!

Looking to head south these coming months? Stay in the loop to hit the prime spots!

Cusco

This region was once the heart and capital of the Inca Empire and the majesty of this sacred land can still be felt today. Cusco is the undeniable home base for adventure-hungry travelers visiting the legendary Machu Picchu.

However, significantly lesser-known attractions such as La Catedral and Sacsayhuamán experience significantly less tourist traffic, with just as much history, culture, and just as many breathtaking natural settings.

Rio De Janeiro

This famed travel destination, with its exciting nightlife and cascading white sand, makes for an undoubtedly fun getaway at any time of year.

Are you looking for a dazzling Carnival costume or a striking view of the world-renowned Christ the Redeemer? Rio has certainly got it all, from historically rich cultural landmarks, to the modern and the bustling. Remember, soaking up the summer sun at Copacabana won’t cost you anything at all, making for an unforgettable experience, as well as a slightly thicker wallet.

Costa Rica

This world’s gem has got more to offer than can be covered in a brief post. Attractions range from volcanoes to hike, to lush rainforests to explore and a most vibrant culture, waiting to be experienced.

Rest-seekers shouldn’t feel compelled to do it all! Remember, folks who are looking to veg out can get themselves in line with the local “pura vida,” as the Costa Rican’s say, surf and sunbathing along the Nicoya Peninsula’s 80 mile shoreline.

Patagonia (Argentina)

The region’s mystical scenery will captivate you from the moment you first lay eyes on it. Be sure to consider the historic Lake District for some out-of-control sites and sounds!

Don’t overlook the rustic cattle ranges of Southern Patagonia, which are sure to provide you with a glimpse into a world unknown. Last but not least, take a trek to the Cave of the Hands and get to know Punta Tombo’s Magellan penguins!

Galápagos Islands

The magnificent Galápagos Islands are best known for the world’s most colorful creatures. From Darwin’s finches, to giant tortoises, to seals and penguins, this unparalleled hotbed of biodiversity will leave you speechless.

Plus, the islands boast a really uniquely minimal tourist footprint, adding to their remote allure. While getting to the tantalizing islands will cost you, you’d be hard pressed to find an island hopper who doesn’t think It’s worth the trouble!

Finally, be sure to message us at ePassportPhoto to get quick guidance from our representatives!

Brexit and Your Passport Update!

The unprecedented British exit from the EU has cause international uncertainty.

The vote has also initiated passport questions, confusion, and reform. Stay in the loop and read about how these changes may affect your own passport possession!

British citizens clambering for European Union citizenship have overwhelmed Ireland’s embassy (London) and post offices in Northern Ireland, with innumerable passport inquiries and requests for application forms.

The rush has even been so extreme that post offices ran out of forms and the embassy fielded more than 4,000 passport enquiries (which is especially lofty when compared to the previous 200 per day average.

It is worth noting that if somebody is raised in the Irish Republic or in Northern Ireland (or even with an Irish parent or grandparent), they are entitled to an Irish passport ! This population comprises about six million people living in Britain.

All of these territorial changes affect those with imminent travel plans and the widespread nature of this reach should not be underestimated! In response to this chaos, the government has even been called upon to passport office in Belfast after post offices ran out of forms and were completely unable to fulfill orders. Similarly, Ireland’s embassy in Paris has also had a record number of requests, some reports suggest.

 

Some British citizens are beginning to apply for Belgian passports as long-time residents of Belgium, while others are applying to the countries of their European citizen spouses. This uncontrolled rush for passports has undeniably overflowed into a similar Brussels office attempting to fulfill the hoards of requests.

As it stands now, in London (where the population of 8.6 million), younger workers and citizens who largely voted for Britain to remain in the European Union were also thoughtfully considering their presented options.

Be sure to message us at ePassportPhoto to get quick guidance from our representatives!

Adventures in Asia!

Thinking of Summer stays in Asia? 

If you weren’t, perhaps you should!

So many breathtaking and under-traveled destinations in Asia have absolutely incredible weather in the months July and August so It’s not too late for last-minute adventurers to get on board!

It is worth considering that throughout regions like South East Asia and the Indian Subcontinent, experience summer temperatures that can reach unbearable heights and the subsequent monsoon rains threaten to make your entire visit a soggy one. Luckily, there are some serious exceptions that will guarantee a most unforgettable adventure for you and any travel companions!

Summer in Indonesia is the widely considered to be the best time of year to visit for a number of reasons, both in terms of weather and destinations for exploration! Consider Amankila, Amandari & Amanusa and discover tropical islands including Lombok and Moyo Island.

Notably, central and eastern Sri Lanka share warm and sunny tropical weather in the current and coming month! Vacationers should know that a multitude of excellent resorts have opened up here in recent years! Additionally, Sri Lanka’s south coast is a primetime destination for mid-August!

Northern India regions, like Ladakh, are absolute summer favorites and regularly enjoy uninterrupted sunshine, stunningly blue skies, and Himalayan mountains, brimming with ancient Buddhist temples. There, Shakti Village tours can provide an authentic taste of this unique Himalayan region of the world.

Furthermore, Koh Samui in the Gulf of Thailand also enjoys similarly sunny and particularly dry weather during these summer months, unlike areas in the Andaman Sea, such as Phuket.
A region less traveled, Vietnam, is also an undeniably great choice – while the south is mid-monsoon, Vietnam’s beaches provide endless sunshine!

Finally, be sure to message us at ePassportPhoto to get quick guidance from our representatives!