Under present regulations, the US State Department allows American citizens to hold at the same time two separate, valid duplicate passports. Here are some reasons to consider holding a duplicate passport.
1. It is not uncommon for Americans to either lose or have their passport stolen while they are abroad. Of course, it is possible to request a replacement emergency passport. This is no fun. The process can be difficult and expensive. Rarely do these emergencies occur at a convenient time or place. Usually an emergency passport is only good for reentry into your home country. So, barring all else, you will need to apply for a new passport prior to your next international travel, if your destination requires a passport.
So if you maintain a duplicate passport, you may not have to change your international travel plans while you are broad. Of course, if your passport is stolen you will still need to report it stolen or lost, both to the local authorities and to the United States State Department, if you were able to continue on your journey. If nothing else, this is a certain amount of emotional security that comes from knowing you have a duplicate passport immediately available.
2. Some countries require both visas and/or travel insurance prior to visitors entering their country. Some countries have even more stringent requirements, for example Russia. So, should you need to make a 2nd set of international travel plans or be in the process of these applications to another country, you may be one passport short.
3. Passports are typically stamped upon entering a country. Sometimes the sheer volume of stamps and visas in a passport invite additional problems and scrutiny in entering a country. Travel particularly in the Middle East with certain passport stamps can augur other difficulties. For example, a stamp from Israel may make it difficult to enter certain countries, at the time of this writing, for example the UAE, Algeria and others.
If under your circumstances a duplicate passport may not be appropriate, consider two alternatives, neither of which is a substitute for passport, but which may suffice depending on your travel plans. They are a Trusted Traveler Card or a passport card. Each typically involves lower fees than a passport and for the experienced traveler has a number of uses.
In addition, please always remember to check the US State Department warnings before foreign travel.
Though it may not be recognized, I always recommend traveling with a properly prepared power of attorney, a medical power of attorney, and a declaration relating to your wishes with respect to medical treatment and end of life treatment. To quote an old commercial, “don’t leave home without them.”
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