(CNN) — Planning a trip abroad? You’ll need a passport.
Making sure your documentation is in order is just as important as booking a hotel or a rental car.
If you don’t do your homework, you could end up paying extra money or you could be left at home.
As soon as you know you are leaving the country, start thinking about your passport.
First, check the expiration date. If you need to renew or you don’t have a passport, it’s time to do some research.
You need to factor in cost and processing time. Fees can add up quickly.
Passports start at $110 for adults and $80 for minors, and routine passport applications are currently taking 4-6 weeks.
Need a passport in a hurry? Prepare to pay $60 in addition to the regular application fees, plus any overnight mail costs.
Expedited service currently takes 2-3 weeks.
Sometimes an application by mail isn’t enough. The government says you have to apply in person at a designated agency if:
- You’re applying for the first time
- You’re under the age of 16 or were when you got your previous passport.
- If your previous passport was lost, stolen, damaged or issued more than 15 years ago, you have to apply in person too.
- You’ve changed your name.
There can be also lots of special requirements and forms depending on your age, circumstance and location.
So go online in advance of your departure, to ensure your trip doesn’t take off without you.