A recent Yahoo Travel Editor was unable to travel to Curaçao because she was traveling with a passport that was invalid. How can you make sure this NEVER happens to you? Well, we can help you know all the tips and tricks to passports, visas, and travel regulations. As professional passport expeditors, we have seen thousands of situations where passports and applications are rejected or suspended. The list below will explain all the ways to check your passport validity and help ensure you never miss a trip.

Make sure your passport is valid. This is the most important step and the reason Jessie from JessieOnAJourney.com was denied entry to Curaçao. Passport validity is checked on a number of different criteria. First and foremost, make sure you have your passport in hand. A photocopy of your passport does not count. It must be the real deal. It must also be the most recently issued passport. You cannot travel solely on a previously issued passport as the U.S. Department of State Passport Agency punches holes in your passport to ‘invalidate’ it. The passport is still returned to you. It can only be used in conjunction with your current valid passport if you have valid visas in the previously issued passport as they are not transferred over so you will need to travel with both passports if you intend to use the previously issued visa with your new passport.

If your passport is lost or stolen, it will need to be replaced. You cannot check your passport validity without actually holding your passport in hand. Take a thorough look at your passport to make sure it is not damaged. Passport damage comes in many different forms. If your passport has normal fatigue from travel and use, you are fine. However, if your passport has too much wear and tear, or your dog chewed the corner, or your photo and info pages are no longer in clean condition, you will need to replace your passport. If you washed your passport and it looks rough, don’t take a chance. Replace it today. Check your passport thoroughly before you leave for your trip.

Check the expiration date. Your passport should have at least six months of validity. What does six months validity mean? The 6-month validity rule means your passport expiration date must be at least 6 months after the last day of your international trip. So if you are planning a trip overseas and the last date of your travel is January 1st, then your passport should be valid until at least June 1st. This rule has in been in place for many years but is now only recently being enforced by every country. Do not take a chance on an almost expired passport. Renew your passport before you go! Remember: Adult passports expire every ten years. Minor passports expire every 5 years.

Keep your passport up-to-date.  or inaccurate info must be updated. If any of your information has changed, please update it immediately. This includes marriage name change, gender change, adoption name change, etc. Also, if your appearance has changed dramatically, you should apply for a passport renewal to update your photo. You can even take your own passport photo to make sure you actually like the way it looks. Any misspellings or inaccurate info must be updated.

Make sure you sign your passport. Your passport is not considered a valid document until you sign the first page. The signature line is on the page with your passport information.

Make sure you have enough visa passport pages. If you don’t have enough blank visa pages, you could be turned away at the airport. The U.S. Department of State will no longer allow travelers to apply for more passport visa pages. As of January 1st, 2016 you will need to apply for a passport renewal. All passports issued after January 1st, 2016 will be the 52-page passport book.

Pay your taxes and child support. The U.S. Department of State may deny your passport or suspend your application if you own back taxes or child support payments. Please make sure you have your financial affairs in order BEFORE applying for your passport as it will likely not be issued if you are behind in payments. If you are on probation, owe more than $1500 in child support payments, have an outstanding arrest warrant or have serious felony issues, you may not be granted a passport.

The only person responsible for traveling with a valid passport is YOU! Unfortunately, the airlines, TSA, or even the border agents may not catch your passport validity issues. However, if you end up traveling with a passport that is invalid, you may be met with fines, delays, and even deportation. Don’t let this happen to you. Make sure your passport is valid!