Tag Archives: passport

What You Need to Know Before Applying for Your Ghana Travel VisaPlanning a trip outside the U.S.? Did you know that makes you part of around five percent of Americans who travel internationally each year? If you’re a first time traveler overseas, we have some tips to make it easier.

Tip #1 – You will need a passport.
Actually all signs point to travelers within the United States needing a passport by 2020, but you’re traveling outside the United States now and you will need a passport to exit and enter the U.S. when you return. You will also need to show a certified copy of your birth certificate to obtain your passport. Outsource the task of getting a passport and spend your time planning your trip and deciding if you really need to include that 15th pair of shoes. Once you get your passport, it will be good for ten years. When you get your passport photo taken, get a few extra copies. Sometimes random countries will ask you for one at the border or you might need one for a visa (more on visas in a moment).

Tip #2 – Will You Need a Travel Visa?
Not every country requires a travel visa for entry. This is where the process gets extra fun, every country has their own rules, regulations, and process for obtaining a visa for entry. It also usually requires a trip to the consulate or embassy. This is a good task to outsource.

#3 Research Your Destination
In many countries, people in the cities do not drive at all. Public transportation, taxis, private buses, ride-sharing and other ways to get around make even renting a car unnecessary for a lot of destinations. Look up where you’re going and learn the basic customs, hot spots, places to avoid, and whether a Hepatitis A vaccination is recommended to avoid getting sick from the food or water.
Tip #4 Where To Stay
A hotel isn’t your only option. Check out couchsurfing.org or AirBnB.com to get in a local’s home and really get a feel for the place you’re visiting (maybe even make some new friends) get insider tips on cool places to go and save money.
Tip #5 Learn How the Money Works
In the present, if you don’t have a credit card with a chip, ask your card issuer for one and you’ll likely get it. Most chipped cards won’t come with outrageous fees for using it abroad. Ask your credit card issuer what their fees are, if any to avoid surprises on your statement when you get back.

Using a credit card is excellent security against fraudulent transactions. However, not all businesses will take cards so it’s a good idea to carry a little local currency with you.

Figure out the exchange rate ahead of time so you aren’t trying to do constantly calculate prices. For example, if you are in Iceland and you know 600 Krona is roughly equal to five dollars U.S., you can have a rough and ready point of reference for figuring out how much to spend and keep on you.
Tip #6 Avoid Roaming Fees
When you board your flight, switch off your mobile data. WiFi is available pretty much everywhere, use that to upload your travel photo to Instagram instead of your phone’s data and you’ll save money.

Tip #7 Learn a Little of the Local Language
Most places you visit will have people who speak English. However, it is polite to at least learn how to say, “Do you speak English?” and a few other phrases in the local language. You might be met with grins and laughs for trying, but most people are happy to help if you try.

Tip #8 – Know the Basics to Pack
Here is a complete list of the basics you need to pack: a toothbrush, toothpaste, your passport, your phone and your credit card. Anything else you might want can be acquired where you’re going.

You can make life easier for yourself by packing clean undies for a week, if your stay is longer wash them in a sink with whatever soap is handy, and hang up to dry. Wool socks won’t heat up your feet and never gather a smell.

For clothing, dress nice and for the weather (again research your destination) and you won’t need more than two pair of shoes for most trips.

And that’s the basics for having a great time on your first jaunt outside the U.S.

 

SARA (2)Not the United States.

Passport power is measured by the number of countries an individual can visit without needing a travel visa for entry. For 2017, the top spot is being shared by two countries.
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Germany and Singapore are welding the most power with their passports this year with their countries’ respective passports allowing bearers to visit a whopping 159 countries visa-free.

Sweden comes in a solid second place with their passport allowing entry into 158 countries.

The United States is now in third place with a U.S. passport unlocking entry into 157 countries visa-free.

An interesting statistic recently showed only 38% of U.S. citizens own a valid passport. Between 2018 and 2020 that number is expected to grow as more individuals choose a passport to meet requirements for state to state travel to be in compliance with the REAL I.D. Act.

If you need to renew your current passport or want to apply for your very first one, we’re here to help you through the process. We can expedite your passport and get it in your hands fast than through standard channels. Every member of the family will need a passport to travel internationally, however the Real I.D. act will not require minors to have a driver’s license or passport to fly domestically.

 

Owe Taxes- IRS Can Revoke Your Passport
Americans that are more than $50,000 in debt to the IRS for overdue taxes could find themselves in a real pickle if they need to travel when the Real ID Act is fully implemented in 2020.

In 2015, Congress introduced a bill for highway funding that includes a provision to revoke the passport of any citizen of the United States who owes more than $50,000 in delinquent tax debt. The criteria to meet the level of delinquent tax debt includes the IRS filing a levy or lien against the overdue taxes and no repayment plan has been established. Now, it’s the law, the IRS can revoke passports.

Lawmakers feel this measure will be an incentive for individuals who owe back taxes to become current with their tax debt and they have until October 2020 to get their tax bills in order.

Another group this provision is expected to affect are Americans who live abroad who may have domestic tax bills in arrears. This will affect their passport status as well.

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If you have any questions about how to get your passport or how to renew, talk to us. Call us at 713-874-1420 during business hours or message us on Facebook.


Newfoundland has long been a tourist hub of activity for people coming to see “Iceberg Alley.” Recently, a hunk of ice of huge proportions appears to be stuck and it’s generating all kinds of interest. Remember the 150-feet that you can see are all that is out of the water, icebergs are generally much larger below the surface of the water. The peak time to view icebergs is from now until June.  This year is predicted to have the largest number of icebergs in years.

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U.S. citizens don’t need  a passport to visit Newfoundland to enjoy Iceberg Alley, however reentry to the United States will require a valid (more than 6-months until expiration) passport.

If you need to renew  or get your very first passport, we can expedite the process for you. We can also obtain passports for every member of the family. Book your flight and talk to us about obtaining your passport. We will make sure you won’t be late to enjoy Iceberg Alley this year.  Call Texas Tower at 713-874-1420 or contact us on Facebook.

 

Everyone that has gone through the process of getting a U.S. passport knows the basics of how it works and to keep their passport safe. Here are five things you may not know about your U.S. passport.

  1.  The U.S. Passport is no longer the most powerful
    The power of a passport is calculated by how many countries the passport holder can visit without obtaining a travel visa. Up until the present the U.S. and U.K. were tied for first place. This year, Germany scooped them both as the most powerful passport according to the Global Passport Index.
  2.  The majority of Americans don’t have passports
    According to the latest figures from the State Department, only 38% of Americans hold current passports.
  3.  Your expiration date isn’t your expiration date
    Even though your passport reads it expires in 10 years, most countries won’t let you enter if you have less than 6 months left on your passport. So you technically have to renew after 9 years to stay current.
  4. Counterfeit passports tend to get caught
    The newest incarnation of the U.S. passport possesses over 30 security features and is very difficult to duplicate. Fraudulent passports are normally caught very quickly.
  5. The chip in your passport is high-tech
    Although passports have had chips since around 2005, the chip has evolved from then to now as much more secure. The chip is protected with a polycarbonate coating and only countries with the same technology can read and verify the chip.

If you don’t have a current passport, or you have questions about how to renew or obtain a passport, just ask us! Call us at 713-874-1420 or email info@texastower.net .

There are 8 reasonsIf you’re reading this, it was one of your first forms of identification. That’s right: your birth certificate.
In fact, there are eight common reasons you will find yourself needing a birth certificate.

Signing a child up for participation in a camp or sports team – usually, a birth certificate will be required.

Registration of a child in school- along with immunization records, a copy of the child’s birth certificate will be necessary. Some schools will ask for a certified copy to keep in their files.

Getting a driver’s license – many states will ask for a certified copy of your birth certificate to issue a driver’s license.

Getting a passport – along with the documentation you need to provide, a certified copy of your birth certificate may also be necessary.

Obtaining a marriage license – most states will require a certified copy of a birth certificate for both individuals requesting a birth certificate.

Genealogy buffs – often get birth certificates for family members to allow for further research into the family background.

Employers can ask for a copy of your birth certificate – although it’s not legal to ask your age in a job interview, an employer may ask for your birth certificate to verify your validity to work in the United States.

To obtain a social security number. Now often assigned soon after birth, a certified birth certificate is required to get a social security card.

Along with those eight reasons, birth certificates get misplaced, lost, and damaged to the point they aren’t accepted to use for identification. It’s a good idea to keep a copy of a birth certificate on hand for every member of the family- just in case.

Travel Hacks for Getting Your Passport and Travel Visa Effortlessly

The actual beginning of every trip whether business or pleasure begins with planning. Then getting your tickets. Once you have your destination, make sure your passport is up-to-date and then if you need a travel visa, we can show you how to skip making a trip to the embassy.

How getting a passport through Texas Tower works:
Depending on the type of service you need, we have set up a specific passport page to assist our clients. We have a dedicated page for each type of passport request, set up with easy to follow instructions and what forms we need from you to process your passport request.

If you have any questions, we pride ourselves on the fact during business hours you will always talk to a person, never an automated service. We like to deliver a one-on-one service because each passport application is unique as the person requesting it. If you need your passport as fast as 24-hours, we can process that too. Get started on your passport here.

Since a travel visa isn’t a one-size-fits-all-countries endeavor, we have a dedicated page for each country, and whether or not they require a visa for entry for United States citizens. If a visa is required, we have a form that will list exactly what paperwork you need to provide us. Our agent will make the trip to the embassy on your behalf. Tap to choose your destination country.

One of the best travel hacks you can do when you’re gearing up for an international trip is outsourcing your passport and/or visa acquisition. This frees you up to plan your trip instead of standing in line. Call us today if you have any questions at 713-874-1420.
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No matter what the reason is that you need your passport, we can help you.

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The number one reason people realize they suddenly need their passport, is the country they are about to visit needs to see that you have more more than 6 months left on your passport before it expires. If you have less than six months left until the expiration date, pretty much consider your passport expired.

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You have choices for renewing your passport, changing the name on your passport, or even applying for your first-ever passport for yourself or a child in your family.
If you choose to go through the State Department – there are fees and the process can take on the average anywhere from four to seven weeks. This is exactly the reason it makes sense to outsource the processing of the paperwork to Texas Tower.

We can bring the standard time service for obtaining your passport down to 8-12 days.  If you need your passport on a rush basis, we can have your passport within 24-hours.

Read more about the types of passport situations we can assist you with at the Texas Tower Passport page.

captioncontest060812We recently ran across what many people might consider a dream job. Imagine getting paid $10,000/monthly to travel and you have slum it staying in million-dollar luxury accommodations. Sounds rough right?

THIRDHOME  a luxury vacation company, announced on their Facebook page they are seeing applicants for a travel position that will send you all over the world for 3 months staying in as many as 12 different luxury vacation homes. The position will entail sharing your experience in photos and video in blog posts as well as social media. Something most of us do anyway when we travel for free!

THIRDHOME describes the job as “the best job on the planet” and from the overview of their job post, they may be right.

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To apply, you need to make a one-minute long video explaining why you’re the ideal person for this. Make sure your passport is valid (talk to us if it isn’t and we’ll get it renewed for you!) and get in on this opportunity.

Not something you want to do? Share this post with someone that loves to travel.

Budget-Friendly Destinations for Spring Break 2017Spring Break is fast approaching, have you made your plans? If you’re still searching for the best deal on where to go – here are some ideas inside and outside the U.S. that are kind to your bank account and perfect for the student on a tight budget.

1. Daytona, Florida

With average temps hovering in the low-80’s during Spring Break, Daytona has great weather and cheap hotels in abundance. There is a Big Red Party Bus that travels up and down the beach and is easy to catch either way. The boardwalk, beach, or local clubs are filled with activity and it’s a definite non-stop party scene.

2. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Both North and South Myrtle Beach in South Carolina have white sandy beaches and very affordable hotels. There’s a ton of live music and clubs. Hotels here tend to be even more budget-friendly than in Florida, so it’s worth checking out.

3. South Padre Island, Texas

Looking for a Spring Break experience that is anything but tame? This is your destination. South Padre is small but mighty. The island is filled with tons of bars within walking distance and the hotels are very affordable. Most of the accommodations aren’t exactly 4-star but chances are good you won’t be in your room too much anyway.

4. Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

None of the above destinations require a passport, this one will. Costa Rica is completely gorgeous and if you love beach time, this is your nirvana. You can swim, whitewater raft, and enjoy zip lining. There’s still time to book a trip and keep the cost down on a roundtrip ticket.

5. Ocho Rios, Jamaica

This is a great destination. Ocho Rios in Jamaica is a very busy port that numerous cruise lines use and it’s not hard to see why this is so. The water is clear, there are jungle mountain ranges and the beaches are pristine. Margaritaville is where the Spring Breakers head to. You can party hard or rent an ATV, horseback ride, or experience their whitewater rivers on a raft canoe or kayak. You will need a passport for entry.

6. St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands

Since this is a U.S. territory, you won’t need to worry about breaking out your passport. If you book your flight far enough in advance, you can usually score some great deals on travel to this destination where you will be able to enjoy affordable hotels, pristine beaches, and a jumping night life.

7. Cancun, Mexico

It wouldn’t be a list of Spring Break places without the original Mexican paradise destination, Cancun. There are nearly constant parties, bars, live music fests, and very affordable rooms. Shop around for roundtrip flights and you can probably snap up a great deal. Just pack your bathing suit, sunscreen and your passport and you’re set!