Category: Travel

NJ is Preparing to Implement the Real ID Act. Do you need one?

Many states have implemented the Real ID Act, but just a few are still in the process of doing so. If you are not familiar with the Real Id Act, it is a law implemented by Congress to have security features on government-issued ID. The IDs include driver’s licenses and non-driver ID.

To travel domestically, you can use your ID as identification. Once the Real ID Act is fully implemented, any ID not in compliant will be rejected. What that means is you will not be allowed to board your flight. So, New Jersey like many other states is getting ready to have its IDs change by the summer of 2019.

Should you get the Real ID?

That depends. If you are a frequent flyer and use your ID to fly domestic, then you should get the new ID with the latest security features. Keep in mind, once the state has fully implemented the changes, the current IDs will become invalid at airports. However, an alternative document to use at the airport is your passport.

How to get the New Real ID

Currently, preparations are in progress at all Department of Motor Vehicle Agencies. The equipment is getting tested and ready to eliminate any mishaps that may arise. Also, the DMV is working on plans to accommodate the 6.4 million licensed drivers if most decide to make the change.

Steps you may take to get the Real ID

You can replace your current ID, expired or not, by applying at the DMV. You must provide the usual six points of identification when you apply. If your driver’s license or state ID is still valid, the cost of a replacement is $11. For those with an expired document, you will pay the full price.

Some people may be able to apply online. The DMV will inform you by mail if you are chosen to apply online. Others will need to apply in person. If you are getting an ID for the first time, you must apply in person.

How do I know if my ID is compliant?

Since 2011, New Jersey has been issuing enhanced driver’s license with over 20 overt and covert security features. The Real ID Act will implement even more security features. If you compare the old with the new, you may be able to see some changes like a star in the upper right corner. However, others are only visible if scanned.

Now, your IDs are not compliant. Once the DMV provides a definitive date of the release, you can change your document.

How will DMV help with the process?

The DMV is anticipating lines once the date is set. So, to prevent long lines and a smooth process, the agency will hire 209 full-time and 80 part-time agents. The agency will also extend the hours on weekdays from 8 am to 4:30 pm and 8 am to 3 pm on Saturdays.

The agency has also suggested the best times to go and avoid long lines. It recommends going mid-month and mid-morning or mid-afternoon. These are times when lines are shorter.

Overall

The change of a driver’s license or state-issued ID is coming whether you are ready or not. It will affect anyone who uses an ID to fly domestic. So, if you are one of these people, get the new ID. If you don’t, after September 31, 2020, your ID will have “not for Real ID purpose” printed on it. Then, you cannot use it to fly but still can for driving.

What To Know About The Microchip In Your U.S. Passport

Security has become a significant concern for many countries when it comes to identification documents issued. Not only on documents use to travel but also on spending. For instance, many cards like your bank or credit card have security features visible to you, the microchip.

The chip is used to store information about the bearer of the document. For a passport, the information obtained after scanning the chip will produce a person’s biometrics and address. Also, a photo of the person.

Why worry about your information getting stolen?

The RFID chip or radio frequency identification is more secure than you think. The State Department issues new passports with a chip that makes it difficult for anyone to take information from.

Security Measures Taken

  • First, to get information from a passport, it must be open and scan at a close range. So, if you are walking around with your passport in your pocket, losing your information to someone is next to impossible.
  • Second, the information on your passport will not help anyone to steal your identity. There is not plenty of information on a passport like there is on a credit or bank card. Also, if the data gets taken and change when the chip is scanned, your information like your picture pops up and the person using it will get caught right away.
  • Third, if you still think you prefer not to take any wrist with your passport, you can, but an RFID shielded wallet to keep it in. The wallet will prevent losing your information from being scanned by anyone who is not authorized to do so.

Other Documents with RFID Chip

Other documents have RFID chips or microchips embedded in them. For instance, credit and debit cards have this technology. Your credit and debit cards have way more information than a passport. So, you are more likely to give away more information from these documents than you will with a passport.

You will also find hotel room keys, company IDs, and other cards with a microchip. In all, over 80 countries around the world use microchips to secure people information.

Take Comfort With the Microchip

So, you can rest easy that RFID chips are secured to the highest level. However, not everything is 100% secure. For this reason and others, the Department of State continues to improve the technology so that your personal information is much hardy to steal from your passport or any other document or ID that uses a microchip.

Driving Abroad: Your Guide to the International Driving Permit

Are you planning a big trip and dream of driving abroad?

You know:

Cruising the roadways, taking in the incredible sights, and hopping country-to-country in the comfort of our own or rented vehicle? How great would that be, right?! Given you have a valid passport and U.S. driver’s license – this is a real thing if you get an International Driving Permit.

The International Driving Permit lets you drive in 175+ countries around the globe

This permit also acts as a globally recognized form of identification. And, makes it incredibly easy to rent a vehicle from car rental companies. Even better is getting one isn’t difficult if you’re patient.

Want to know how to get one? Keep reading this guide.

How to Get an International Driving Permit

The IDP is issued by two organizations:

  • Automotive Association of America (AAA)
  • American Automobile Touring Alliance (AATA)

You should start your application as soon as possible as it may take a few weeks!

The IDP is available for anyone meeting these requirements:

You can apply for the International Driving Permit (sometimes referred to as a license):

  • In-person
  • By mail

Here is how to complete the process in-person:

  1. Locate a AAA office
    1. Or: AATA by mail (only)
  2. Print and fill out the application:
    1. AAA application
    2. AATA application
  3. Submit 2 passport-sized photos
  4. Pay the $20 IDP fee

You may also mail the application to the address listed on the form. In this instance, you’ll submit the documents you would have in-person but also a photocopy of your license (front and back). Plus, extra payment to cover postage for return mail.

Once you receive the IDP you’re free to drive in the 175+ countries. However, you will need to carry your U.S. license whenever you’re behind-the-wheel. The IDP isn’t proof your driving ability – being caught without your U.S. license could result in serious fines and penalties!

What if You’re Not a U.S. Citizen?

The International Driving Permit is available throughout 175+ countries. It’s very likely your country offers this permit if you’re currently reading this from abroad.

You will need one from your country if intending to drive in the United States.

 

10 Quick Tips and Safety Lessons when Driving Aboard

Driving while abroad is a totally different beast than what you’re used to back home. Driving culture is wild between countries. If you’re not careful, you could find yourself in quite a predicament!

What can you do to make your trip abroad safe when you’re behind the wheel? Remember these:

  1. Know the rules. Refer to the country’s driving laws and manuals well before you book your trip and rental car. Else, look online – like YouTube and travel forums – for information about driving culture, regulations, and understanding road signs. And, of course, always respect the road laws once you’ve arrived at your destination.
  2. Take your time. Don’t rush things, pull over if you’re feeling intimidated. There’s no sense in trying to keep up with the locals if you’re afraid behind the wheel. Get comfortable on less trafficked roads before getting on the major highways and roadways.
  3. Get good coverage. Accidents happen and when they do, you’ll have wished you opted for the better insurance package offered by your car rental company. You may also want to consider travel insurance to cover other incidents as a result of the auto accident.
  4. Get a GPS. You’re in a foreign land, their roadways and traffic patterns may be way different from what you expected. A GPS can be a lifesaver especially if you don’t understand the language. Either request one from the car rental place or have international data on your phone (and make sure to download offline maps!).
  5. Pick the right vehicle. Don’t go for flashy unless you know how to handle an exotic car. Instead, pick a vehicle you’re comfortable driving. Request an upgrade when you get accustomed to driving abroad but until then, maybe stick to a small sedan.
  6. Keep some change. Found yourself on a toll road unexpectedly? You don’t want to hold up the local drivers. Always keep the local currency on hand – coins, please! – so you can quickly pay and get on your way without making a scene.
  7. Don’t be stupid. This includes driving while using your phone, not wearing a seatbelt, speeding, and any other rule you’re expected to follow back home. Sure, someone locations have relaxed laws, but this isn’t the time to test them! The last thing you want is to be locked up abroad because you didn’t obey traffic laws or caused a serious accident.
  8. Avoid heavy traffic spots. Places like the city centers, narrow roadways, construction zones, and all those spots. These are the heavy congested zones you probably can’t handle on the first day. Plus, you’ll probably annoy the locals by creating a traffic jam. Avoid them if you can until you’re comfortable behind-the-wheel.
  9. Respect the police. If pulled over, let them know you’re not from the country as there may be a language and culture barrier. They’ll walk you through what’s required to hand over, but this is likely what you do at home. Show your license, IDP, insurance, passport, and car rental documents to make sure you’re covered. Then, hope you didn’t do anything serious.
  10. Plan it out. Minimize your time on the roadways as this increases your safety. After all, the longer you’re on the road the more likely you could be involved in an accident. So, plan your routes and where you’re going (including what time you’re driving). Just to be on the safe side.

What else would you add to this list of tips? Do you have experience driving abroad with an international driving permit? Leave your thoughts and suggestions in the comments below!

How to Find My Passport Number

There are many reasons why you should know your passport number. We tend to tuck it away after receiving it and only take it out to travel. Well, here are some reasons why you should document the number and safeguard it.

Where to Look for Your Passport Number

If you recently got your passport, you should retrieve it to get the number. When you do, look inside, and on the first page, you will see your personal information. Your name, date, and place of birth, and your address. Below that information and at the bottom of the page, you will see a series of numbers. The numbers represent your passport number. It is best to photocopy this page and keep it in a safe place. If you can, scan it and email it to yourself. This way, you can access it whenever you need to.

Lost or Stolen Passport

If you lose your passport while traveling outside the country, the first thing to do is report it immediately. You can report your missing passport to the State Depart by phone, on the website, or by mail. You may visit the nearest consulate or embassy in the country you are visiting.

For anyone who is the country and will not travel soon, apply for a replacement at an acceptance facility. If you have an emergency and must go within 24 hours, hire a private expeditor or visit a regional agency for same day service.

Other ways to get Your Passport Number

If you lose your passport before recording the number, you may be able to get the number in different ways. Here are some options to get the number:

  • If you recently book a flight or still have your previous flight information, you may have your passport information on the flight itinerary. If you can retrieve an old email, you are just in look to get your passport number. If you are a frequent flyer; you can also get the number from that information.
  • If your job requires you to travel frequently, the person who books your flight may have a copy of your passport. Ask the person, he or she might surprise you with it.
  • You can order a copy of your passport record from the U.S. Passport Service. You may request the information by mail and provide your full birth name, legal name changes, birthday and city, telephone number, mailing address, email address, and the estimated date the passport was issued. You will pay $50 for a certified copy.

How to Apply for a Lost or Stolen Passport

You can apply for a lost or stolen passport by completing Form DS-64 and DS-11. Also, submit the supporting documents with the forms and pay the fee. Apply to any acceptance facility for the replacement passport. If you are in a rush and will travel soon, hire an expeditor or go to a regional agency for same day service. The cost will be more significant if you hire a private expeditor or going to a regional agency than if you go to the local acceptance facilities.