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3 passport scams that are guaranteed to ruin your trip

Some of my favorite memories come from traveling abroad. I just love experiencing other cultures from around the world.

There are so many great things to discover. From the delectable cuisine to the sandy beaches and friendly people. There is something out there for everyone.

Before heading out to your favorite foreign destination though, you are going to need a passport. Unfortunately, like with most things these days, there are scammers out there looking to take advantage of the unsuspecting traveler.

That's why you need to know about these three passport scams before planning your next trip.

Validation services

us-mexico-border

Many countries have different rules for entrance. For example, some require your passport to be valid for up to six months after you enter their country. You can easily find the expiration date on the inside front cover of your passport, next to your photo.

When entering a foreign country, you might run into a business offering passport validation services for a small fee. Some claim that there is a faster route into the country for travelers with a validated passport.

This is a passport scam!

All travelers must cross the border in the same way, with or without a "validated" passport.

However, there are ways to speed up this process. These official traveler programs can help make your trip across the border faster:

  • Global Entry - This is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the U.S. Members enter the United States through automatic kiosks at select airports. Travelers must be pre-approved for the Global Entry program. All applicants undergo a rigorous background check and in-person interview before enrollment. Click here to find out if you're eligible and to apply for Global Entry.
  • NEXUS - The NEXUS program allows pre-screened travelers expedited processing when entering the United States and Canada. Program members use dedicated processing lanes at designated northern border ports of entry, NEXUS kiosks when entering Canada by air and Global Entry kiosks when entering the U.S. via Canadian Preclearance airports. NEXUS members also receive expedited processing at marine reporting locations. Click here for more information and to apply for the NEXUS program.
  • SENTRI - The Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection (SENTRI) is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the U.S. Participants may enter the U.S. by using dedicated primary lanes into the U.S. at Southern land border ports. Travelers must be pre-approved for the SENTRI program. All applicants undergo a rigorous background check and in-person interview before enrollment. Click here for more information and to apply to the SENTRI program.

Bonus tip: Before taking an international trip, it's good to know your destination's rules ahead of time. The U.S. Department of State's travel website is a good source for that information. It lists all entry requirements for every country.

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