My husband picked up my no-fee passport October 19th and told me that he didn’t think I would like the photo. While the lady who took my application had made sure the photo was good, he said they had smooshed it when they printed the passport, and it didn’t look the same. It was a couple of days before I saw it. The photo wasn’t as bad as I had expected but wasn’t as good as the original (the second of which my husband kept for his wallet. Aww). I was more surprised by the actual passport.
I had seen the no-fee passports with a maroon cover which say “OFFICIAL” above “PASSPORT”, so I had expected it would look like that. Instead, I found mine looks just like the dark blue tourist passport (although that almost looks black). I had read in a few places about traveling on a tourist passport because the no-fee ones identify a connection to the government which one doesn’t want to call attention to, so it is nice to see that this will appear exactly the same as a tourist passport to most people.
The only difference is that inside, under endorsements, it says to see page 27 on which is written: “THIS PASSPORT IS VALID ONLY FOR USE IN CONNECTION WITH THE BEARER’S RESIDENCE ABROAD AS A DEPENDENT OF A MEMBER OF THE AMERICAN MILITARY OR NAVAL FORCES ON ACTIVE DUTY OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES.” I had been told I can travel on the no-fee passport, but a country other than Germany has the right not to let me in with it. Due to the phrasing of the endorsement page, I think my passport will be okay in most of Europe, and I have read other people’s experiences of never being asked to see theirs in the countries within the European Union. I will likely get a tourist passport if we plan to fly anywhere, but until then I’m not going to worry about it too much. [Edit: I found out that while there are open borders within the EU, if you're stopped and don't have a tourist passport on you, you can be fined and it can be difficult to get out of the country, so I wouldn't risk it. Just get a tourist passport, but make sure you also take the no fee one with you to get back to the country you're stationed in.]
The same day my husband had picked up my passport, he got our plane tickets…three different times. The first time he got the tickets for a day in November and picked up the passport. Shortly thereafter, he was told he would actually fly out the following day and needed new tickets. So, they gave us new ones. The new flight would be out of Atlanta, GA.
He found out that if the weather was cold there was a possibility they would deny us taking our two dogs, who we’d already gone through steps to take, on the flight. We couldn’t risk that so he called me to have me look up shipping companies. If that failed, he wanted me to see if my parents would take the dogs.
After about an hour of searching, all I found were companies out of the area or that didn’t include the transit of the pets in their already high fees. Many of the companies charged just to make arrangements to take pets in a flight with the owner (which is what we needed to get around). As I was about to give up and call my parents, he called back. The guy helping him was able to find a Delta flight out of Charleston, SC which will allow both dogs to travel for $400.
When I had originally looked up taking pets, I had come across information that one can can take them via air mobility command for around $80 if one is on the flight, so he hadn’t been expecting it to be so much for a civilian flight. I told him the most recent page I’d looked for pet shipping companies quoted much more than that plus the price of the pets’ tickets. So $400 for both is actually better.
The other positive thing is that the port that we will be shipping our car from is in Charleston. So, we can drop the car off a couple of days early, get a hotel, and then get a cab to the flight. With the original arrangements, we would have had to drop the car off in Charleston and get a ride to Atlanta for the flight. Plus we faced the possibilities they’d deny the dogs on the flight or we would have to spend more to use a pet shipping company. So, really it worked out in our favor. I’m glad the guy my husband was working with was committed to working something out rather than letting him leave with the possibility we’d leave our dogs behind.
Have you ever shipped a pet overseas? If so, what method did you use?