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How to Prep Your Passport

There's nothing more satisfying than filling up those crispy blank passport pages! But before you can get started on your passport stamp collection, you need to make sure you have a passport that's valid and ready for your travels. Read on to learn how to tell if your passport is valid, how to submit a copy to International Programs, and what to do if you need get a passport for the first time or if you need to renew your current one. 

Is My Passport Valid?

You might think if you have a passport that's not expired, you're good to go. Not so fast tiger! Grab your passport and check for the following to see if you're really ready to travel:

  • Most airlines will not let you board an international flight if your passport expires within 6 months of the RETURN date on your flight. That means that your passport could actually be invalid even before it's technically expired. The chart below can help you figure out if your passport is valid: 

passport validity chart

  • Your passport must be SIGNED! On the page opposite the data page (the one with your picture and info), there is a line for your signature. Be sure your autograph is there, or your passport might not be considered valid. Consulates are especially strict about this when it comes time to get a visa.
  • Be sure that your passport has blank pages. This is important because if you need to get a visa or immigration stamp, you'll need the space. If your passport is out of space (you world traveler you), it's probably a good idea to renew it.
  • Complete the Travel Questionnaire to triple-check that your passport is good to go, and find out if you need a second passport. For more info on getting a second passport, head to our latest blog post.

If after reviewing the steps above you determine that your passport is VALID, read on to learn how to submit a copy to our office.

If you have discovered that your passport is NOT valid, or that it expires within 6 months of the return date for your program, you will need to renew it right away. See below for details on how to do that.

How to Submit Your Passport Copy to IP

Congrats, your passport is good to go! Now it's time to submit a copy of said passport to International Programs. We will use this information to reserve your ticket for your group flight and/or Educational Field Trips and to create any immigration documents you might need. All students traveling abroad with IP are required to submit a copy of their valid passport to IP by no later than 120 days prior to departure (D.C. students - this means you too!). Check our calendar page for your program's exact deadlines.

Submit your passport copy using the IP Document Submission Form (search your email to find it). You'll need to be logged in to your Pepperdine Gmail account to access this form. Then you'll be asked to upload a photo or scan of your passport so that we will have a record of your information.

Once you've completed the form, you will receive a copy of your responses in your email, and a verification email confirming that we received your passport. We will contact you if there are any issues with your submission or documents.

How to Get a Passport (Or Renew Yours)

First, check out our Handbook for Securing A Passport for the most updated advice. This page has all the information you need on how to renew or apply for a new United States passport. Essentially you need to fill out some forms, gather up the proper forms of ID, and then apply in person. Our Passport Information Page gives advice on some local places where you can apply. (Please note, it is very uncommon for our students, but this page can help you figure out if you're eligible to apply by mail.) 

Remember that if you're a non-U.S. passport holder, you'll need to research the steps for your country. If you are not an international student and are also not a U.S. citizen, please consult with your immigration attorney to determine whether or not traveling internationally is advisable.

If you need help with any of these steps, feel free to contact us for help along the way.

Don't let the passport process scare you - it's easier than you think! The best thing you can do is get started RIGHT AWAY. You might think you have loads of time, but remember that it can take up to 12 weeks (!) and you need to turn in a copy of your valid passport to International Programs by January. Be sure to apply for your passport by as soon as possible, but by no later than November of the year prior to stay on track. If it looks like you won't be able to get your passport in time, don't stress - just send us an email ASAP. We can provide you with documents to help you expedite the process if we determine that's necessary.

Also keep an eye on your email for details about the Passport Fair, where we can help you figure out which documents you need and where to bring them. 

BONUS TIP: Part of getting a new passport is getting a new passport photo! When you go to get your photo taken be sure save yourself a trip and get all the photos you will need for your passport AND visa process AND emergency envelope at the same time. We made this handy dandy chart to tell you how many photos you need depending on your program. Additionally, if you got your passport before you were 16, you will need to renew in person.

Good luck future travelers! Remember that we're here to help if you need it!