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Coming and Going: Passport Expiration Dates, Stolen Credit Card Site

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Sunday, July 19, 2009

PASSPORT ALERT

The Almost Expired

Check your passports, folks. CoGo was reminded to remind you of this by Kyle Lenz, an Indiana University graduate student who learned the hard way that you shouldn't assume your passport is valid just because it hasn't expired.

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Lenz was on his way to Quito, Ecuador, last week for his best friend's wedding. He arrived at the airport with his paperwork in order. Or so he thought. When he scanned his passport at the airport kiosk, it registered as invalid -- even though it doesn't expire until August.

The problem: Ecuador requires a passport to be valid for at least six months from the date of your visit. "I was unaware of this rule," a bummed Lenz said.

So, one more time: Look into the entry requirements of the country you're traveling to. A number of other nations require passports to be valid for six months; others have a three-month rule. Long before your departure, call the country's embassy, check its Web site or look at the country-specific information on the State Department travel site, http://travel.state.gov. "Research is key for traveling abroad," said State Department spokesman Noel Clay. It's a lesson that Lenz, for one, has learned.

STOLEN GOODS

Credit Card 411

When Matt Cooper lost his wallet while vacationing in Croatia, his first move was to notify his credit card issuers. But finding the right phone numbers took a couple of calls home and valuable time.

In response, he created a Web site, http://www.cancelthatcard.com, that lists phone numbers in 59 countries for Visa, Discover and MasterCard. "It's one-stop shopping for all of your cards," he said. "It saves you lots of time."

Cooper acknowledged that the individual card Web sites also list contact numbers for various countries, but his site, which launched nine days ago, "is very simple and bare-bones," making it easier to load onto a mobile device. "You don't have to scroll through nine pages to get to the information," he said.

The 26-year-old said he plans to add numbers for other cards, including American Express, in coming weeks.

BARGAIN OF THE WEEK

AirTran has launched a systemwide sale for travel through Dec. 16. For example, round-trip fare from BWI Marshall to Charlotte is $98, including taxes; other airlines are matching. Ten-day advance purchase required. Lowest fares apply to Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday flights. Blackout dates are Nov. 24-25 and Nov. 28-30. Book by July 28 at http://www.airtran.com, or pay $15 more by calling 800-247-8726.

Reporting: Zofia Smardz and Carol Sottili

Help feed CoGo. Send travel news, road reports and juicy tattles to: cogo@washpost.com. By mail: CoGo, Washington Post Travel Section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071.


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