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Why now is the best time to get (or renew) a passport

If you need a passport for an upcoming trip, don't put it off. September, October and November are quieter months when your new or renewed passport will be processed more quickly than any other time of the year.

The U.S. Department of State on Tuesday said it expects demand to increase starting in January.

For one thing, it's expecting lots of renewals, thanks to the 18 million passports issued in 2007. (Adult passports are good for a decade.)

That year a backlog of applications swamped passport officials and meant long waiting lines at passport offices.

Also, demand for passports and renewals has increased each year since 2009; last year more than 14 million were issued.

When should you renew?

Many countries require you to have at least six months on your passport from the date you leave that country. So if you're planning to spend two months touring Europe, say, you want to make sure your passport is valid for at least eight months. (Find out each country's requirements at this State Department web page.)

New passports and renewals cost $110 for those 16 and older, and $80 for children. A $25 handling fee is tacked on.

First-timers in Southern California may apply at a passport acceptance facility. The State Department website can help you find the nearest one. Some offer appointments; others are on a walk-in basis. You can renew a passport in person or via mail.

Info: U.S. Passports & International Travel, (877) 487-2778

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