If you think you are safe to travel with a damaged passport, think again. The best thing you can do is to keep it locked up in a bank vault or, failing that, a fireproof safe. If you need to prove your identity on a regular basis, find something other than your passport, like a driver’s license or government identity card. This way you can protect your passport from unnecessary damage.
Passports are very important federal documents. It is important that they are protected properly in order to maintain their integrity as well as keep them from theft. Many people keep passports with other important documents such as birth certificates and bonds, some even put them in safe deposit boxes until their needed.
You, your parents and your teachers may all swear in court what an honest soul you are but customs and immigration officials on the other side of the world won’t know that. It is their sworn duty to protect the people, security and the property of their country. If they even get the inkling that a passport with damages is suspicious you will not be allowed to enter a country.
Wear and Tear
Just like there are fake IDs to allow those under 21 into bars, there are also fake passports. Because passports allow someone the ability to enter or leave a country, they’re often stolen or forged. Officials are trained to find forgeries, which may include looking for small inconsistencies within the passport. These may include discolorations, tears, mislabelling. These are all issues that can arise if a passport is damaged as well. Attempting to offer a damaged passport is risky, and may be more trouble than getting a replacement.
Even seemingly innocent cases of passport damage can cause great amounts of headache for travelers. Officials are generally very unforgiving in these matters. People can even be put on a plane back to their hometowns if their passports don’t look right. This is another reason why traveling with a passport that has significant damage is dangerous.
The picture is equally grim if you need to get a visa to enter a foreign country. Some nations are friendly. Others, like Russia where visas are a separate document from a passport, are not.
So whether your passport has a tear in it, is watermarked, or went through the washing machine it is essential to get a replacement for your damaged passport. Replacement passports are easy to get as long as the damage is reported and all documentation is filled out correctly, no matter where you are, you should get your replacement in the timeframe in which you need it by. Depending on the dates on your passport you may be able to apply for a American passport renewal. Be sure to ask a passport service agent what your best option is regarding your damaged passport.