4) $PLATFORM=1; else $PLATFORM=2; } elseif (preg_match("/MSIE (\d)/i",$HTTP_USER_AGENT,$v)) { $browser="msie"; if (($version=$v[1])>4) $PLATFORM=1; else $PLATFORM=2; } elseif (preg_match("/Mozilla(?:\/|\s)(\d)/i",$HTTP_USER_AGENT,$v)) { $browser="navigator"; if (($version=$v[1])>4) $PLATFORM=1; else $PLATFORM=2; } else { $browser="other"; $version="unknown"; $PLATFORM=2; } } ?> Travel Agents, Passports, Caribbean Embassies

Travel Agents, Passports, Caribbean Embassies

Travel Agents

Travel agents offer a free service, making hotel and air reservations and issuing airline tickets. They can shop around for the lowest rate for you and often hear about sales that aren't known to the general public.

They can't however, read your mind. We've seen couples go to a travel agent and say "We'd like to go somewhere warm." That ­ as you can see in this book ­ covers a lot of territory!

Every vacation is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The two of you may return to the islands, but no other trip will be exactly like this one. Each is unique and offers wonderful opportunities for you to explore the world together. Part of the fun of travel is the anticipation of the trip. Read through this book together and talk about your options.

Entry Requirements

Specifics vary from country to country (we'll discuss those in individual chapters), but plan to bring along either a current passport or a certified copy of your birth certificate (some islands accept voter registration card), and a photo ID. Passports are the easiest form of entry (plus you'll get the neat immigration stamps as a free souvenir).

TIP: If you're headed to the Caribbean on your honeymoon (or if you'll be getting married while in the tropics), don't have your airline tickets issued under your new name. Your tickets must match the name on your passport that you'll be using for entry. If you are presenting your certified birth certificate and you have changed your name since birth, bring along a copy of your marriage license as well.

Obtaining a Passport

To obtain a passport, you may apply in person at the nearest passport office (see Appendix, page 382 for offices ) or at one of the several thousand federal or state courts or US post offices authorized to accept passport applications. Not every post office offers this service; usually just the largest offices in the city. For your first passport application, you must apply in person.
We can't stress enough the importance of applying for a passport early. The heaviest demand period is January through August. September through December is the speediest period, but you should still allow at least eight weeks for your passport application to be processed.

To obtain a passport, first get an unsigned passport application (DSP-11) from your local passport office or post office that handles passport applications. Do not sign the application. You'll also find passport applications online at the US Department of State's website, travel.state.gov/passport_obtain.html.

You'll need to provide proof of US citizenship. This can be an expired passport, a certified birth certificate (that means one with a raised, impressed, embossed, or multicolored seal). If you do not have a certified copy of your birth certificate, call the Bureau of Vital Statistics in the city where you were born. It's a handy document to have, so request it.

You also must provide identification, which can be an expired passport, a valid driver's license, a government ID card or certificate of naturalization or citizenship. (Here's what won't work: Social Security card, learner's permit, or temporary driver's license, credit card, expired ID card.)

Passport Photos

Next, you must provide two recent identical photographs of yourself no larger than 2x2 inches (the image of your head from the bottom of your chin to the top of your head must not be less than one inch or more than 1a inch). Passport photos can be either color or black and white but they may not be Polaroids or vending machine photos. The easiest way to get passport photos is to go to a quick copy store and ask for passport shots.


Passports for adults 16 and over are $60 and are valid for 10 years. You may pay in person by check, bank draft, or money order. At passport agencies you may also pay in cash; some (but not all) post offices and clerks of court accept payment in cash.

When you receive your passport, sign it. The next step is to fill in the emergency contact information (use a pencil in case you need to make changes).

Getting Information

Need to talk with someone? The only public phone number for passport information is for the National Passport Information Center (NPIC). You can call here for information on passport emergencies, applying for a US passport, or to obtain the status of a passport application. Automated information is available 24 hours a day and live operators can be reached on weekdays from 8 am to 8 pm, Eastern Standard Time. (Services are available in English, Spanish, and by TDD.) This is a toll call: the charge is 35¢ per minute for the automated system or $1.05 per minute for live operators. Call  900-225-5674 for either automated or live service;  900-225-7778 for TDD service. Calling from a number blocked from 900 service? Call  888-362-8668 (TDD  888-498-3648); you will be required to pay by credit card at a flat rate of $4.95 per call. For passport offices, see the Appendix.

Lost Passports

If you lose your passport or have it stolen, immediately report the loss to the local police. Get a police declaration, then report to the local consulate or embassy for a replacement passport. We've had this happen and relied on the State Department to help us replace a lost passport (caused by the sinking of a boat we were traveling in) with an emergency passport.

We can't emphasize enough how important it is to carry a copy of the identification page of your passport tucked somewhere in your belongings.

Caribbean Embassies & Consulates

Run into problems on your trip? You will find consulates and embassies on some of the larger islands. These offices can assist you with lost or stolen passports, emergencies, etc.

If you are involved in an emergency situation, go to the nearest US embassy or consular office and register as an American citizen in the region. Bring along your passport and a location where you can be reached. Offices are listed in the Appendix.

The consular office can also be contacted for a list of local doctors, dentists, and medical specialists. If you are injured or become seriously ill, a consul will help you find medical assistance and, at your request, inform your family or friends. The State Department cannot assist you in funding an emergency trip back to the States; that's what travel insurance is all about.

Travel or holiday insurance can cover the cost of a trip that you have to cancel, trip delay expenses. and medical expenses that your regular insurance policy might not handle. You can purchase travel insurance through your travel agent or call an insurance agency directly. (Don't buy insurance through a tour operator; if the business should close, your insurance policy will probably be terminated along with it.)


Return to the Table of Contents