For business or pleasure, Washingtonians are world travelers. Whether it’s a weekend trip to Canada or a long journey around the globe, travel is crucial to Washington’s economy and to the rich cultural connections we have around the world. Our federal government’s role is to make that travel as efficient and safe as possible, and a wealth of resources is available to help to with travel documents and information about your destination.
Before visiting a foreign country, you should ensure that all your travel concerns are addressed. Please take a few minutes to read the information below and see if it answers your questions. We have included several links to the State Department and U.S. Customs and Border Protection that may be helpful to you as well.
My office may be able to assist you with foreign travel matters. After reading the information below, please contact my office if you think we can be of further assistance. The Privacy Act of 1974 requires that Members of Congress and their staff have written authorization before they can obtain information about an individual's case. Therefore, a consent form may be completed before we proceed with your issue. You can download that form here.
Role of U.S. Embassies and Consulates
U.S. Embassies and Consulates are located throughout the world and provide a variety of services to U.S. citizens and permanent residents who are traveling outside of the United States. Embassies and consulates are also responsible for issuing visas and notifying U.S. citizens of travel warnings. When traveling outside of the United States, you may want to contact a nearby U.S. Embassy or Consulate to let them know where you are staying and how long you will be in the area.
The Bureau of Consular Affairs
Travel.State.gov, the website of the Bureau of Consular Affairs at the State Department, provides comprehensive information for the international traveler including:
International Travel – Administered by the Office of American Citizens Services and Crisis Management (ACS), this site offers tips for traveling and living abroad, travel alerts and warnings.
Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) – STEP is a free service for U.S. citizens traveling to or living in a foreign country. STEP allows you to enter information about your upcoming trip abroad so the State Department can better assist you in an emergency.
Emergencies and Crises – The ACS assists embassies and consulates in providing emergency services to Americans traveling or living abroad. U.S. citizens can call Overseas Citizens Services at 1-888-407-4747 (from overseas: 202-501-4444) for assistance.
Applying for a Passport
The Passports section of the Travel.State.gov website provides comprehensive information on the application process for passports and passport cards including fees, forms, processing times, application status, lost or stolen passports, and more.
U.S. Passport Cards can be used to enter the United States from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda at land border crossings or sea ports-of-entry and is more convenient and less expensive than a passport book. The passport card cannot be used for international travel by air.
Renewing a Passport
By Mail — You can renew your passport by mail if you meet all of these criteria. Your most recent U.S. Passport:
- Is undamaged and can be submitted with your application
- Was issued when you were 16 or older
- Was issued in the last 15 years
- Was issued in your current name or you can legally document your name change
In Person — If you do not meet all four statements above, you must submit your passport application in person.
The processing time for routine passport applications is approximately 4-6 weeks from time of application. Processing time for expedited service for passport applications, including overnight delivery to and from the passport agency, is approximately 2-3 weeks door-to-door.
Telephone for an appointment with the Seattle Passport Agency (1-877-487-2778). Bring the required documents with you (birth certificate or previous passport or naturalization certificate, identification, two passport photos and proof of departure). The new passport fee for people 16 and older is $100, expedite fee is $60. Renewals are $75. If you are not traveling within 14 days, you must apply at a local Passport Acceptance Facility (Post Office, Clerks of Court, or City Clerks Offices.
Applicants in need of a passport for an emergency should contact my office.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), one of the components of the Department of Homeland Security, is responsible for securing our borders. As part of their mission, CBP operates several programs:
Trusted Traveler Programs provide expedited travel for pre-approved, low risk travelers.
- Global Entry Program – The Global Entry Program allows an expedited clearance for pre-approved, low- risk travelers returning to the United States from abroad. Participants may enter the United States by using automated kiosks located at select airports.
- FAST Driver Program – The FAST (Free and Secure Trade) Driver cards are Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) compliant documents for entry into the United States by land or sea. FAST Driver includes the U.S./Canada FAST Driver Program and the U.S./Mexico FAST Driver Program.
- NEXUS Program – The NEXUS card can be used as an alternative to a passport for air, land, and sea travel into the United States for U.S. and Canadian citizens.
- SENTRI Program – SENTRI (Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection) participants undergo a thorough background check and are issued a Radio Frequency Identification Document (RFID) that will identify their status upon arrival at a U.S. port of entry. A sticker decal issued for their vehicle or motorcycle allows SENTRI users access to dedicated primary lanes into the
The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI)
The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) requires U.S. citizens returning home from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean or Bermuda by land or sea to show one of the following travel documents:
The WHTI requires U.S. citizens returning home from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean or Bermuda by air to present a U.S. passport. This applies to everyone including newborns, infants and children with only a very few exceptions.