by Wendy VanHatten

Getting ready to travel outside of the United States? Are you thinking of going to the Olympics in Paris?

Do you have your passport? Do you know when it expires?

Here are some things to think about before you pack your bags.

First, know when your passport expires. Many countries require the expiration date to be more than six months from that date.

Next, the State Department tells us you are responsible for looking like your passport photo. Have you added or removed facial tattoos or birthmarks? Have you lost a significant amount weight, especially in your facial area?

If so, you may need a new photo.

Speaking of photos, here are some rules that may be new since the last time you had yours taken.

Remove your glasses.

Make sure the background is the correct color.

Don’t smile too much. Yet, look natural…if you can! I was told not to smile at all and my photo looks like I belong in the post office for most wanted!

Next, pay the correct fee if submitting for a renewal by mail. No sense getting the renewal rejected.

Make sure you take or send any supporting documents with you.

Check for online renewal. Not sure if it’s coming soon or not.

Last, check with the State Department for more rules and clarifications.

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