A Test That Detects Early Smell Loss and Neurologic Disorders

MSP uses advanced technologies to identify unnoticed changes in your ability to accurately smell. Normal ability can change without you ever noticing these slight changes. Sensitivity degradation occurs due to viral infections, they also are early symptoms of Neurological disease.  Concussion and TBI also temporarily cause Olfactory disorders. Use MSP to rapidly screen for these unnoticed and undiagnosed disorders. Safe, Effective,

60-second, affordable, Insurance covered screening tool.

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& Child Friendly

A Simple Accurate

(97% Specificity*)

Smell Test!

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A Simple Solution with Proven Results

Our test includes 5 separate scents and sensitivity tests that cover a wide range of olfactory dysfunction including Hyposmia, Dysosmia, and Anosmia. It is necessary to have at least 5 scents to maintain high accuracy.

My Safe Pass Includes:

Multi-odorant Scent Cards (5-Points)

Web-based Application

Optional COVID-19 Health Screening Questionnaire – Based on WHO, CDC & OSHA Criteria



Can a Concussion Cause Loss of Smell?

It's long been known that people who suffer a major concussion can lose their sense of smell temporarily and also develop affective problems, such as anxiety and depression. Now scientists have found that's true even for people who get a minor concussion. 

Hit your head, lose your sense of smell - ScienceDaily

"Surprisingly, a test of olfactory function is not currently a part of the concussion protocol even though smell loss has been a common occurrence following head injuries. A test of olfactory function and CTE in real time would be a “game-changer” in our understanding of repetitive head injuries. A 5-min smell test given by a single technician could objectively track CTE over time." Science

NIH - Head trauma and olfactory function

Click Here for links to 62 studies.

Disorders of Taste and Smell in clinical neurology. These disorders commonly occur in head trauma.

MRI Scan Image

Loss of Smell Can be a Hallmark Symptom in the Earliest Stages of Many Diseases.

In the 1970s, researchers learned that smell is compromised in neurodegenerative conditions like  Alzheimer's disease ,  Parkinson's disease ,  Huntington's disease , and  multiple sclerosis  (MS). Now, they are discovering that loss of smell can be a hallmark symptom in the earliest stages of many diseases.

"Recent studies of brains from Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease patients reveal structural and biochemical alterations in regions associated with the sense of smell," says Richard Doty, Ph.D., professor and director of the Smell & Taste Center at the University of Pennsylvania. Loss of smell occurs 90 percent of the time in Parkinson's disease. This is greater than the prevalence of  tremors , a cardinal sign of the disorder.

Yet in one study of Parkinson's patients, 72 percent were unaware they had a smell disorder before undergoing standardized testing. Only two out of 34 Alzheimer's disease patients reported suffering from smell and/or taste problems-even though 90 percent of the patients scored lower on standardized smell tests than healthy subjects. 

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Simply Scan, Rub & Smell

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97% Specificity: the ability of a test to correctly identify people without the disease* 87% Accuracy (82-87), 3% False Positives (3-11), Specificity (87-97%)

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A PASSED result indicates that you have a normal olfactory function,  while a FAILED indicates that you have an abnormal olfactory function*, highly associated with early viral infection, Neurological disease, Concussion, and TB.

Save your PASSED result to wallet.

Scannable QR code can be used with PASS validator application.

Show PASSED or FAILED for validation of results.

Proceed to take the optional COVID-19 Health Screening Questionnaire.

A FAILED result will prompt you to seek additional attention from a healthcare provider.

A FAILED result will give you the option to receive a FREE at-home PCR test via our National Telehealth providers and Sensiva at-home PCR kits.

*Olfactory dysfunction can be due to other causes including neurodegredation disease, head trauma or other viral infections and this is not to screen or diagnose a specific disease or condition.

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The Clinical Studies MY SAFE PASS ™

Clinical studies for 5 scent odorant detection validated in multiple clinical studies including:

Gates Foundation/Global Health Labs Study (170 subjects)

Yale University School of Medicine – ENT specialists (1320 subjects*)

FIOCRUZ, Brazil (World Renown for Infectious Disease) (165 subjects)

USA K-12 School System (800 tests)

Track Your Daily Progress

MY SAFE PASS ™ includes a self-monitoring section that allows you to monitor your daily progress.    

Backend Data & Reporting

Use our MY SAFE PASS ™ app which gathers date, time, approximate location and results from each user while remaining HIPAA compliant. This app also allows employers to manage it's employees. Employers can simply log into our system and obtain real time data of it's employees and company overview.

Validated in Multiple High Caliber Peer-Reviewed Clinical Trials (Yale, Gates /GHL)

97% Specificity, 87% Accuracy, 3% False Positives *

Improves Antigen Test Performance – Gates Peer-Reviewed Study

FDA Registered Class II Exempt Medical Device

CE Registered Class I Medical Device

Olfactory Disorder & Viral Screening

“The Secret Behind the Science”...

Cells by the olfactory neurons are up to 600x enriched in the ACE2 receptor and it’s where the virus goes first. SARS-Co-V2 enters through your nasal cavity which causes olfactory disorders.

Smell disorders in the early stages are sometimes the only symptom in COVID-19. Most infected people do not notice this symptom unless a test is used that can identify a partial loss of smell (hyposmia). This is important for while some people can notice total smell loss many will not notice hyposmia without an objective and quantitative olfactory test.

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Loss of Smell - Key Differentiator

Loss of smell is the differentiator symptom and is not present in flu or allergy.

Olfactory disruption is a prevalent and one of the first indications of COVID-19 infections (day 1-3). This happens before noticeable symptom including fever headache, and diarrhea. A unique feature of COVID-19 is a loss of smell and the ability to understand scents even without a stuffy or runny nose caused by a normal cold or flu.  Fever is not a good indicator of Covid-19 infection. A recent study shows that patients were "found that Covid-19 patients were 27 times more likely than others to have lost their sense of smell. But they were only 2.6 times more likely to have fever or chills...“ 

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Make Your Life Safe Again


MY SAFE PASS™ is an easy-to-use tool for quick screening of symptoms related to Viral infection. Use My Safe Pass before visiting grandma or grandpa, at family gatherings, or when exposure is a concern. 

• Visiting Grandma & Grandpa

• Family & Friend Gatherings

• Dining Out

• Travel

• School

• Events

• Workplace

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No Test Compares to MY SAFE PASS

My Safe Pass – Published Peer Reviewed Clinicals (validated in multiple high caliber trials [Yale, Gates /GHL]) Other Tests – No peer reviewed clinicals est - No Peer Reviewed Clinicals. False claims and low accuracy 

My Safe Pass - 5 Scent Detection for Accuracy                      Other Tests - 1 scent for anosmia only (low accuracy, undependable, false positive results)

My Safe Pass - Highest Accuracy                                                Other Tests – Low accuracy - (they rely on health question answers not olfactory testing) 

My Safe Pass – Superior Technology of Use. (Our system can handle 100M users a minute and operates with no internet connection)          Other Tests:  Do not work without internet accesses.  Web based apps do not function properly.  

My Safe Pass – Self Monitoring (track your daily progress each day)                                   Other Tests – No Self-Monitoring  

My Safe Pass - Affordable  Other Tests - Overpriced, costs up to 5x more

My Safe Pass - Free PCR option                                                      Other Test - No other test offers verification of infection

My Safe Pass – A True Olfactory Test                                                       Other Test – Only use one scent, this does not qualify for a true olfactory test

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MYEG launches digital health pass system, MySafeTravel

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Citizens Journal

MyEG announces MySafeTravel, a digital health pass for inbound travellers

Avatar photo

My EG Services Bhd (MyEG) announced the launch of a digital health pass system for travellers aimed at facilitating entry into Malaysia amidst the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

In a press statement, the company said MySafeTravel serves as an online channel for inbound travellers to register and pay for mandatory Covid-19 swab tests and to choose their preferred location for quarantine stays prior to arrival, thus making the process of entering Malaysia more efficient and convenient.

The system is developed and operated by MyEG for the Ministry of Health, and is accessible at  since Nov 1, 2020.

“MySafeTravel users will be provided with a QR-code based digital certificate through the MyQR by MYEG smartphone application, which will be used by border authorities as proof of compliance with the prevailing Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) related to travel,” said MyEG.

The company said additional features will be introduced progressively as travel bubbles are established between countries to ensure SOPs are adhered to.

Presently, in accordance with government SOPs, it is mandatory for travellers arriving from overseas, both Malaysians and non-Malaysians, to undergo COVID-19 swab tests and be quarantined for a 14-day period at their own expense.

Among participating hotels available for selection upon launching are Ramada by Wyndham and MiCasa All Suites Hotel, with more properties of varying grades to be progressively added over time.

For more discerning, well-heeled travellers, five-star rated luxury villas with bespoke travel arrangement and amenities will also be offered as an option for quarantine stays. This will also help put Malaysia on par with neighbouring countries in the region such as Thailand, which has also started offering travellers five-star accommodation as quarantine options.

To ensure a smooth entry into Malaysia, all travellers are advised to register, make the relevant selections and pay the required charges on MySafeTravel prior to departing from their country of origin, the company added.

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Thomas Tan joined CJMY in 2011. At the second annual conference in Johor Bahru, he received the 'Best Article 2011' Award. To date, he has published over 1,000 articles on community events and various topics.

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MySafeTravel 4+

European security institute, designed for iphone.

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THE WORLD'S PREMIERE TRAVEL SAFETY SOLUTION Terrorist attack? Natural disaster? Political Unrest? WE'VE GOT YOU COVERED! Legal notice: To be used strictly for private use; content may not be used for, or applied to, any commercial purpose and/or enterprise. Have a worry-free holiday with FREE, 24/7 travel intelligence. MySafeTravel is a trusted, customisable, location-sensitive companion that helps keep you and your family safe when travelling. Utilising the latest reports and analysis from a team of experienced travel security experts, MySafeTravel offers exclusive access to information previously only available to business travellers! ––– BE PREPARED Get detailed information about your destination. While travel guides help you pick the places you want to visit, MySafeTravel shows you the places you want to avoid: stay away from high-crime neighbourhoods, political demonstrations and other dangerous areas. STAY ALERT If something happens nearby, you'll know. MySafeTravel sends security notifications based on your current location, so you always get world-class information and travel advice… no matter where you go! * Note: Continued use of GPS running in the background can dramatically decrease battery life. STAY SAFE Keep you and your loved ones safe. Customise your settings to get safety tips and security alerts for up to three countries so you'll always know what's happening at home and abroad. TRAVEL SECURE Know what the experts know. MySafeTravel uses reports and alerts from Riskline – a world leader in travel risk intelligence – to give you privileged access to advice, to be used specifically for private use, and information usually reserved for business travellers. ––– Download MySafeTravel now and travel safe today!

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Ratings and Reviews

App privacy.

The developer, European Security Institute , indicated that the app’s privacy practices may include handling of data as described below. For more information, see the developer’s privacy policy .

Data Used to Track You

The following data may be used to track you across apps and websites owned by other companies:

  • User Content
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Data Linked to You

The following data may be collected and linked to your identity:

Data Not Linked to You

The following data may be collected but it is not linked to your identity:

Privacy practices may vary, for example, based on the features you use or your age. Learn More


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OZZI - Global Safety

Hawai’i’s Safe Travels Program Welcomes CommonPass.

Heading to Hawai’i? CommonPass has you covered. Now available for all flights from the U.S. to Hawai’i. Get pre-cleared through the Hawai’i Safe Travels Program .

CommonPass is a digital health app that securely verifies you were vaccinated or tested negative for COVID-19.

Where to get tested or vaccinated.

Created in accordance with the Hawai’i Safe Travels Program , CommonPass allows you to access lab options across the United States so that you can satisfy the negative COVID-19 test or vaccination requirement for entry and can enjoy a safe, smooth travel experience.

If you would like to show proof of vaccination: You can upload a SMART Health Card into CommonPass. At this time, CommonPass supports SMART Health Cards provided to anyone vaccinated at:

Additional states, pharmacy chains and health care providers will begin issuing SMART Health Cards that are compatible with CommonPass in the coming weeks. 

If you are getting tested for COVID-19: To use CommonPass, you MUST get your test at one of the labs below within three days of your departure. Other facilities do not work in CommonPass. As new labs are added, they will be updated here.

Receive your COVID-19 test results as a SMART Health Card.

Order self-collected test kits shipped directly to you.

Offers express and rapid testing options, with locations convenient to airports in 15 cities across the U.S.

Multiple testing options available within their airport locations.

How to Use CommonPass with Hawai’i Safe Travels.

First, download the commonpass app..

Available on both iOS and Android .

When prompted, enter the invitation code “HAWAII.” Then, in the upper right corner, tap the + (plus button) and select “Travel ” and then “Travel to Hawai ’ i (Test)” or “Travel to Hawai ’ i (Vaccine).”

Then, import your vaccination record or test results directly into the app.

For vaccines: Scan or import your SMART Health Card QR Code from a compatible issuer. Please Note: CommonPass cannot scan CDC cards or other non-verifiable test results. CommonPass does not yet support records from booster shots. See more about records in our FAQs .

For test results : Select the lab where you were tested and log into the lab portal through the CommonPass app, or scan or import your SMART Health Card QR. Note: you must get tested at a CommonPass compatible lab.

Use the CommonPass exception in the Safe Travels Portal.

Once flights are booked, all adults 18 and over must register with the state of Hawai’i Safe Travels online system. Each child traveling with an adult should be included in the adult’s Safe Travels’ form. Once you have a CommonPass generated for Travel to Hawai’i , fill out the “Trip Details” in the Hawai’i Safe Travels Portal. After the trip is created, click “ Apply for Exemption/Exception from Quarantine” and select the “ CommonPass Exception ” option for both vaccine and test result exceptions.

This is where you can use your CommonPass ID as an Exemption in Hawai’i Safe Travels:

In the CommonPass app, copy your CommonPassID (the 32 digit code found under your CommonPass QR code) by tapping the copy symbol to the right of the PassID. In Safe Travels, select CommonPass as your Exemption Type, paste your CommonPassID, and press verify.

Once verified, add exemptions for other travel members or Submit . This will generate a Safe Travels QR code from the State of Hawai’i, which will be scanned by a screener at the airport.

Any Questions?

We hope CommonPass enhances your travel experience. If you have any questions, check out our resources below:

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TSA PreCheck®

Enjoy the same great tsa precheck benefits you know and love, now with new enrollment options..

Enjoy a smoother security screening process with no need to remove shoes, laptops, 3-1-1 liquids, belts or light jackets.

*TSA uses unpredictable security measures, both seen and unseen, throughout the airport. All travelers will be screened, and no individual is guaranteed expedited screening.

TSA PreCheck Benefits

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Wait 10 Minutes or Less

About 99% of TSA PreCheck® passengers wait less than 10 minutes.

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Families Welcome

Children 17 and under can join an adult with TSA PreCheck® when TSA PreCheck appears on the child’s boarding pass.  Learn more .

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Nationwide Access

More than 200 airports and 90+ airlines  provide TSA PreCheck®

How it works

To enroll in TSA PreCheck just follow these three steps or walk into any enrollment location. Be sure the enrollment provider selected has enrollment locations near you. To renew simply click here and complete your renewal online in as little as 5 minutes.

1. Apply Online

Select an enrollment provider with enrollment locations near you. Submit your TSA PreCheck application online in as little as 5 minutes.

2. Visit an Enrollment Location

Complete enrollment in 10 minutes at your chosen provider which includes fingerprinting, document and photo capture, and payment.

3. Get Your TSA PreCheck Number

Once approved, get your Known Traveler Number (KTN), add it to your airline reservations and start saving time in screening.

New TSA PreCheck Enrollment Options

TSA has selected the following partners to help enroll travelers in TSA PreCheck. Applicants can pick any enrollment provider based on cost, locations , and additional benefits. Get started below.

Costs for enrollment vary by provider which results in pricing variation.

Enroll in TSA PreCheck® with Telos and look for upcoming travel deals.

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Renew through Telos for a convenient renewal experience

  • Renew online for $70
  • Renew in-person for $70

Enroll in minutes when it's convenient for you - no appointment necessary.

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Renew through CLEAR and you may qualify for discounts on other CLEAR travel products.

  • Renew online for $68.95
  • Renew in-person for $77.95

Convenient access to 620+ enrollment centers and local enrollment events daily.

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IDEMIA provides fast and easy online renewal

  • Renew in-person for $78

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Learn who to contact based on your question or concern, plus ways to contact us.

Find your TSA PreCheck Number

Need your Known Traveler Number (KTN) to complete a renewal or update an existing airline reservation? TSA PreCheck members only, excludes Global Entry.

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TSA PreCheck Enrollment Locations

Find open enrollment locations for CLEAR, IDEMIA or Telos. Check back for updates.

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Secure .gov websites use HTTPS A lock ( Lock A locked padlock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

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  • Mobile Passport Control

Mobile Passport Control (MPC)

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Mobile Passport Control (MPC) allows eligible travelers to submit their travel document, photo, and customs declaration information through a free, secure app on their smartphone or other mobile device. The use of MPC streamlines the traveler’s entry process into the United States by reducing passport control inspection time and overall wait time. Use of MPC does not require pre-approval. Travelers who successfully use the MPC app will no longer have to complete a paper form and may be provided a designated queue. As a result, travelers may experience shorter wait times, less congestion and efficient processing.

The CBP Mobile Passport Control App

CBP’s MPC app is a free application that can be downloaded from the Apple App store and Google Play and is currently available for eligible travelers to use upon arrival at MPC approved sites . See FAQ question number 2 to see a complete list of current MPC Sites.

New MPC App Experience

  • On November 9 - MPC travelers will no longer need to scan the QR code to validate their submission with the CBP officer.

Visit our Mobile Apps Directory for other approved CBP applications for easy download from the Google Play and the Apple App Store.

How does MPC Work?

After downloading the MPC Application from the Google Play Store or Apple App Store, eligible travelers will be prompted to create a profile with their passport or LPR card information. Upon arrival at eligible Preclearance locations users must select their mode of entry in the application as "Preclearance" before selecting their departing Preclearance Port of Entry. If a traveler is not using preclearance, upon landing in the United States, travelers will select "U.S. airport" as their mode of entry and then select their arrival airport or seaport and terminal. Travelers will then take a self-photo and answer a series of CBP inspection-related questions. Once the traveler submits their transaction through the app, travelers will then bring their physical passport to a CBP officer to finalize their inspection for entry into the United States.

Cellular or Wi-Fi connectivity is required to send information, but travelers may complete profile(s) without being connected to the internet.

Where can eligible travelers use MPC?

CBP uses the Mobile Passport Control (MPC) application to streamline the processing of eligible travelers entering the United States. Eligible travelers with a smartphone or tablet may voluntarily download the Mobile Passport Control (MPC)-enabled mobile application (app) from a mobile application store (e.g., Apple App Store or Google Play Store).

The MPC mobile app, is available to U.S. citizens, U.S. lawful permanent residents, Canadian B1/B2 citizen visitors and returning Visa Waiver Program travelers with approved ESTA. MPC is currently available at the following 51 sites, including 33 U.S. International Airports, 14 Preclearance locations, and 4 seaports of entry:

  • Abu Dhabi Zayed International Airport (AUH) 
  • Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (ATL)
  • Aruba Queen Beatrix International Airport (AUA)
  • Bermuda L.F. Wade International Airport (BDA)
  • Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI)
  • Boston Logan International Airport (BOS)
  • Calgary International Airport (YYC)
  • Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT)
  • Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD)
  • Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)
  • Denver International Airport (DEN)
  • Dulles International Airport (IAD)
  • Dublin Airport (DUB)
  • Edmonton International Airport (YEG)
  • Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL)
  • Halifax Stanfield International Airport (YHZ)
  • Honolulu Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL)
  • Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)
  • Houston William P. Hobby International Airport (HOU)
  • John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)
  • Kansas City International Airport (MCI)
  • Las Vegas Harry Ried International Airport (LAS)
  • Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
  • Miami International Airport (MIA)
  • Miami Seaport
  • Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport (MSP)
  • Montreal Trudeau International Airport (YUL)
  • Nassau Lynden Pindling International Airport (NAS)
  • Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)
  • Oakland International Airport (OAK)
  • Orlando International Airport (MCO)
  • Ottawa International Airport (YOW)
  • Palm Beach Seaport
  • Philadelphia International Airport (PHL)
  • Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX)
  • Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT)
  • Port Everglades Seaport
  • Portland International Airport (PDX)
  • Sacramento International Airport (SMF)
  • Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC)
  • San Diego International Airport (SAN)
  • San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
  • San Jose International Airport (SJC)
  • San Juan Airport (SJU)
  • San Juan Seaport
  • Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA)
  • Shannon Airport (SNN)
  • Tampa International Airport (TPA)
  • Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ)
  • Vancouver International Airport (YVR)
  • Winnipeg James A Richardson International Airport (YWG)

What are the benefits of using MPC?

MPC provides a more efficient in-person inspection between the CBP officer and the traveler. Since the administrative tasks are performed by the traveler prior to the passport control inspection, MPC reduces passport control inspection time and overall wait times.

When will I be able to submit my information to CBP through an MPC app?

Travelers should submit their information upon arrival at the port of entry, including preclearance locations.

Does MPC replace my passport?

No, travelers must present a valid U.S. Passport, U.S. lawful permanent resident card, Canadian passport or a Visa Waiver Program passport to a CBP officer upon arrival.  

Will I still have to go through the processing lines if I use MPC?

Yes, travelers will still be processed by a CBP officer. Travelers using MPC will be directed to a specific processing lane for a streamlined entry process.

Do travelers still have to fill out a declaration form?

No. Travelers will answer CBP inspection-related questions electronically via their smartphone or tablet. If a traveler has already filled out a CBP declaration form, it can be turned in to a CBP Officer.

Can families use MPC?

Yes, up to 12 profiles can be created for family members. All authorized MPC apps allow for a single household to submit one MPC transaction, including answers to CBP inspection-related questions.

Is using MPC secure?

Yes, the traveler’s document information and answers to CBP inspection-related questions are submitted directly to CBP via secure encryption protocols. The information you enter on the authorized applications are securely transmitted to CBP which sends a response to the apps, generating the electronic receipt you may display when entering the MPC queue. The authorized apps provide the option to store your profile on your smartphone or tablet for future travel or deleting it after your trip. Please note that the photo taken on the application will need to be updated periodically. CBP recommends travelers review the application’s privacy policy prior to download and use. Only information entered after the traveler acknowledges CBP’s notices (i.e., CBP’s mobile privacy policy, Section 311 of the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015, Disclaimer Statement and the Paperwork Reduction Act Notice) is required to be compliant with CBP’s MPC business requirements.

What happens if my flight is diverted to a different airport?

Travelers will not be able to use MPC if their flight is diverted to a U.S. airport that does not utilize MPC processing. Upon arrival at the diverted airport, travelers will follow standard processing procedures. If you were processed by a CBP officer in Preclearance, you would land as a domestic passenger and can proceed to your destination or connecting flight.

An official website of the United States government

Here’s how you know

Official websites use .gov A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS A lock or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Trusted Traveler Programs (TTP) is for secure sign in only. Your account does not affect or have any information about your Trusted Traveler Programs (TTP) application, membership, or eligibility. Please do not send sensitive data about yourself or identifying membership numbers. can only answer questions about the sign-in process and creating a account.

Please contact the Trusted Traveler Programs directly if you have questions regarding:

  • Application status or changes to your application
  • Eligibility
  • Scheduling or changing appointments
  • Or other related concerns

Important notes:

  • Your Known Traveler Number (KTN) will not change when you create a account
  • You do not need to pay for TTP again when you create a account unless it is time to renew your membership

To access your Trusted Traveler Programs account information, visit .

If you sign in directly from the homepage, you will only see your account information.

Protect Your Trip »

How to Protect Your Passport While Traveling

Pro tips for keeping essential travel documents safe in transit.

Businessman holding his passport and luggage at airport.

Getty Images

Nothing spoils an international vacation faster than misplacing a passport.

You've packed the perfect carry-on . You've armed yourself with tech-savvy travel accessories, plenty of cash, an up-to-date passport and photocopies of crucial travel documents (your driver's license and flight tickets). Yet, despite taking these precautions, you're still vulnerable to pickpockets, water damage and losing your passport in a foreign country . And let's be honest: Nothing spoils an international vacation faster than misplacing a passport. After all, a passport is your key to crisscrossing the globe; without it, you'll need to get a replacement from the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate (or passport-processing location in the U.S.), and you'll be stalled from jetting off to new countries or returning home. So, on your next getaway, safeguard your passport by following these expert-endorsed strategies.

[See: How to Fly Through Airport Security .]

Pay Attention to Your Surroundings

When it comes to ensuring your passport stays protected while traveling, the key is staying aware of your environment, says Michelle Bernier-Toth, managing director of overseas citizen services for the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs. "I'm not sure anything is absolutely foolproof," she cautions, but carrying a passport card or copy of your passport can help, along with utilizing extra tools, such as a money belt or a concealed pouch containing a passport and cash or a credit card. In some countries, including Russia and China, "it's the law that you carry your passport," she explains, and while there's no tried-and-true method for ensuring your passport is out of harm's way, keeping it concealed underneath your clothing or in an inconspicuous pouch is a smart idea.

"In countries where you're not required to carry your passport , we recommend locking it up," Bernier-Toth adds, noting it's wise to use a hotel safe and keep your suitcase protected with a travel lock while you're away from your room.

Make Multiple Copies

Sure, it may seem like a no-brainer to stow away copies of your passport in different compartments of your carry-on or even different pieces of luggage. But according to Tom Spagnola, senior vice president, supplier relations at CheapOair, beyond ensuring you have extra copies of crucial documents, you should "always make sure a friend or a family member has a copy." That way, if you do misplace a passport while traveling internationally, you can easily access need-to-know information from trusted allies at home to expedite the process of replacing your passport. He also ensures he has a copy of his driver's license on him while traveling abroad, as an additional form of identification.

[See: 7 Things TSA Wants You to Know About Airport Security .]

Stay Consistent

An easy way to minimize your odds of losing your passport is following smart travel habits . You should always keep your passport in the same place while traveling, says Carol Margolis, the founder of Smart Women Travelers, a website for female travelers that offers recommendations for optimizing safety while traveling. Her method: keeping her passport shielded in a passport cover inside a zippered pocket within her laptop tote. "When I’m at my destination and touring a city, I have a waistband holder for my passport that I wear under my shirt," she adds. When it comes to keeping your passport out of sight while traveling, Margolis says to have it near you at all times, and she cautions against keeping it in a checked bag – or in a carry-on stowed away in an overhead bin. "And keep it in good condition, as damaged passports (ripped pages, tears, stains) may not [get] you into a country," she adds.

Use a Strategic Location

Instead of digging into your back pocket for your passport and praying thieves don't identify you as an unsuspecting target, keep your passport in an easily accessible front pocket or undercover belt, Spagnola says. And when retrieving your passport, make sure you're in a private place to deter lurking pickpockets, he says. If you're traveling to a tourist-heavy destination, Spagnola also recommends blending into a large group and avoiding putting your passport, money, credit cards or any valuable items in a purse, or laptop bag, which can easily be snatched. He cautions that it's essential to understand the culture of the country you're visiting before venturing outside your hotel or resort, where you can easily expose yourself as a tourist. And if your passport is lost or stolen, file a police report immediately and alert the closest U.S. embassy or consulate, Bernier-Toth says. Then, you can take the appropriate steps for declaring a missing passport and arranging an in-person appointment to receive an emergency passport.

Aside from keeping your passport out of sight, it's also important to conceal it from the elements, as passports with significant water damage, particularly on the personal information section and cover, can be deemed no longer valid. "If you're going to be in a zone where a hurricane is bearing down, use a waterproof pack," Bernier-Toth says.

[Read: 7 Affordable Places in Europe to Visit Right Now .]

Know When You'll Need a Passport

If you do misplace or lose your passport while traveling abroad, you will need to get a replacement to get through airport security and customs. "In general, it is not possible to travel internationally [without a passport] at least by air, " Bernier-Toth explains. Still, carrying another form of identification, such as a Global Entry or NEXUS Trusted Traveler card, can help verify your identity and make the process smoother. And in some cases, such as entering and exiting Canada by land or sea, you may use a passport card, a NEXUS card, a passport or another approved document, including an enhanced driver's license, a state-issued ID card which offers proof of U.S. citizenship. Being aware of when you need various documents will make international travel easier to manage.

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5 Ways to Keep Your Passport Safe When Traveling

By Katherine LaGrave

Image may contain Text Document Id Cards and Passport

What passports lack in size, they more than make up for in stature. With them, we board planes, trains, and ships, and cross borders (mostly) freely—after all, a U.S. passport alone allows visa-free entry to 174 countries. Here's how to make sure your passport stays protected when you travel.


Let's rewind. Before you even head out on your trip, you should make multiple copies of your passport : Copy the page that has your photo and full name on it, and keep these copies in separate places—at the bottom of your bag in different pieces of luggage, or even with different people who may be traveling with you. Leave one copy of your passport at home, with coworkers if on a work trip, and to take extra precautions, leave one with an emergency contact. (In the odd chance that you need to replace your passport, have photos at the ready and bring extras with you, too.)

No matter how nice your hotel may be , it pays to get into the habit of storing your passport in the safe. If there is no safe in your room, ask the front desk if they have a safe in which you can store the document. If all else fails—and you're staying in an Airbnb , hostel, or something you found on a private accommodations site—secure your bag with a travel lock.

When traveling, keeping your passport concealed is almost a no-brainer, but of course, we don't just mean just carrying it in your pocket and hoping it stays out of sight. Instead, look for a flat money belt, which can be worn around your waist and neck and concealed under your clothing . If you're looking for something a bit more comfortable, try a travel wallet or passport cover. Both conceal your passport (and nationality), while the travel wallet also has room for other valuables, including credit cards and emergency cash. (Note: Avoid carrying your passport and spending money together if you can, as taking out cash will alert potential thieves.)

When most people think of passport safety, they think of safeguarding it from theft. Weather, however, is another consideration: Humidity can harm the pages, so try to keep it as cool as possible, and to prevent water damage, travel with a waterproof cover. If water damage does occur outside of the U.S., head to the nearest embassy or consulate for a replacement passport—one or two drops of water on a page is fine, but water damage to the book's cover or the personal information page, including passports with more severe water damage, will have to be replaced .


You'll need your passport to clear airport security and immigration , sure. But in instances internationally where you're asked to present identification, specifically note whether or not the actual passport is required—in most cases, an international driver's license or copy of your passport will suffice. This helps protect you against would-be thieves and scammers, too.

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Should You Always Keep Your Passport on You When Traveling?

Y ou need a passport during many stages of the vacation - to enter and exit different countries, to rent cars, and to check in at hotels. So it's vitally coiimportant to keep your passport safe because getting a new one can completely ruin your whole vacation.

That's why in this article, we'll teach you how to keep your passport, cash, cards, and other important documents safe while traveling . If you follow all the precautionary measures, then you should be fine even after getting robbed.

Is It a Good Idea to Keep Your Passport on You at All Times When Traveling?

Keeping your passport on you during all stages of your vacation might not be the smartest thing to do, especially if you're keeping it together with all of your other important documents, cards, and cash. You could get robbed, scammed, or you could simply misplace it. And losing your passport in another country can be incredibly frustrating because you'll need to get a new one for returning back home.

That said, most countries require all travelers to keep their passports on them at all times . Although random checks on the street are incredibly unlikely, you may be fined if you wouldn't have a valid form of identification. So even though you could get robbed, you have to carry your passport anyway.

Tips on How to Safely Carry Your Passport While Traveling

Unfortunately, most of the time, you don't have any other choice but to carry your passport on you at all times because it's required by the law. However, there are certain things that you can do to keep your passport safe.

1. In Addition to Your Wallet, Carry a Hidden Passport Holder

The most important thing that you can do to keep your passport, cards, and money safe, is to carry another hidden wallet. In addition to your regular wallet, you should also carry a hidden passport holder around your neck, underneath your clothes, which also has room for some cash and cards, just like the [amazon link="B017AHHFNK" title="Zero Grid Travel neck wallet"].

You would keep a small amount of cash and coins in your regular wallet, and all of your most important stuff, like your passport, cards, large amounts of cash, and other important documents around your neck. The regular wallet would just be something to give away in case you get robbed.

Ideally, you should also have two cards - your main one, and a simple debit card with a low balance. You should use this debit card during the vacation and top it up as needed. By keeping the debit card in your "fake wallet", not only would you be protecting yourself against physical theft but also digital card scams.

2. When Traveling as a Family, Don’t Keep All of Your Passports Together

One major mistake that most families do, is keeping all of their passports and cash together in one place. Of course, it's simpler to organize everything like this, but if you get robbed, mugged, or you'd misplace your stash, that would mean that everyone is left without any cash and documents.

So instead, you should split all of your cash and passports among all adults equally. And preferably, every adult should have a separate [amazon link="B017AHHFNK" title="hidden neck wallet"] for keeping their most important documents, cash, and cards.

3. Make a Photocopy of Your Passport

Before going on your trip, you should make printed copies of your passport and take one or two with you on your trip. This would act as a backup in case you'd lose your real passport. It helps speed up the process of issuing a new passport at the local embassy or consulate, and also gives you something to show to the local police officers if needed.

Just make sure to keep them separate from your real passport. You can keep it in your luggage, but make sure to write on top of the printed copy with a pen "meant for issuing a new passport if my real passport gets lost", or something similar, so if the printed copy gets stolen, it can't be used to open up bank accounts, take loans, rent cars, or do anything else.

4. E-Mail a Scanned Copy of Your Passport Before the Vacation

Before your trip, make sure to scan your passport, and email the copy to your own email address. You can also choose to email it to your travel partner or a close relative, because in case of an accident, they may need it.

5. Add Emergency Contact Information to Your Passport

In case of an accident, where you're unable to identify yourself, or in case your passport gets lost and the person who found it wants to give it back, you should include some contact details in your passport. If you have a [amazon link="B091T5Y524" title="passport cover"], you can write emergency contact details of a person close to you on a piece of paper and keep it inside. Write down their name, email address, and telephone, with the country code included.

Read Next: 30 Things to Do Before Traveling Abroad + Printable Checklist

6. Most Hotels Offer Lockers for Storing Important Documents

Although legally, you aren't allowed to walk around in another country without valid identification, some travelers do it anyway, and only carry a photocopy of their document while outside of the hotel. Most hotels offer safes within the rooms or the reception, where you can choose to keep your passport and other important documents, usually for a small fee. Just don't leave your documents in your room not in a safe, as they could get stolen during room cleaning.

7. Register With the Local Embassy or Consulate and Inform Them of Your Trip

Although it's not mandatory, it's always recommended to inform your government's embassy or consulate within the country you'll be traveling to. Just call them up and let them know that you'll be on a vacation there, for how long you'll be, and where you'll be staying. Often, consulates have online forms for this, which take just a few minutes to complete. In case of any disasters, accidents, terrorist acts, international conflicts, and anything else, the consulate will have an easier time tracking down which citizens are located in the country, and organizing further help if needed. It's also worth down to write down the location and contact details of the embassy or consulate in case you need it.

8. Keep Your Passport in a Spill-Proof Container

Not only can your passport be stolen or lost, but it can also be damaged by water. So it's a smart idea to always carry it in a [amazon link="B07C9C9ZYW" title="waterproof cover"], in case you get caught in a rainstorm or something similar.

Read Next: How to Pack Fragile Items in Luggage So They Don’t Break (Guide)

Frequently Asked Questions About Passport Safety During Traveling

What's the safest way to carry a passport when traveling, should i put a copy of my passport in my checked luggage.

We wouldn't recommend packing a printed copy of your passport in checked luggage, because theft is more common there . In case of losing your suitcase, just writing your email address and phone on a piece of paper or luggage tag will be enough.

However, we do recommend carrying copies of your passport somewhere else. They can be carried in your carry-on, personal item, or purse because they're much less likely to be exposed to thieves. Just don't keep it together with your passport, otherwise, it defeats the purpose of being a backup form of identification. Also, it's a good idea to write something on top of the copy of the passport with a pen, so it can't be used for opening bank accounts, taking loans, etc.

Read Next: 8 Best 62-Inch Checked Suitcases in 2022

Is it safe to leave my passport at the hotel or Airbnb?

Is it safe to keep my passport in my luggage when traveling.

Keeping your passport in your backpack or carry-on isn't the end of the world, but it still has some risks, because you could forget it somewhere or it could get stolen in cafes or public transport. But you should definitely avoid packing your passport in checked luggage because stuff gets stolen from it somewhat frequently, and you'd need your passport during the flight anyway.

You should keep your passport somewhere on you, ideally in a [amazon link="B017AHHFNK" title="hidden wallet around your neck"]. That way it's protected from pocket thieves and it's very hard to lose.

Do I need a passport for domestic travel?

In some countries, you can leave your passport at home for domestic flights if you're a citizen of that country. However, you'll still need a valid form of ID to present at the airport to prove that the ticket is purchased in your name. In the US , a valid form of identification includes passports, driver's licenses, and military IDs. In Europe, valid forms of identification include passports and state-issued ID cards.

Read Next: Why Some Airports Are Called International and Others Domestic

Do I always need to carry my passport when traveling in Europe?

If you aren't an EU citizen, then you always need to carry a valid passport with you. If not, you could be fined and even face jail time in rare instances.

If you are an EU citizen, then theoretically, you don't need to carry any identification when traveling to some EU countries. That's because the EU has a rule that EU citizens have the right to move freely across the borders of the EU. However, it's highly recommended that you carry either your passport or ID card because some EU countries require all travelers to carry a valid form of identification at all times. Plus, you'll need it anyway for boarding the flight, when checking in at the hotel, when renting a car, and for driving a car.

Is it legal to carry only a photocopy of my passport when traveling internationally?

What passport expiry date is needed for traveling.

Although some require only three, most countries across the world require all incoming travelers to have a passport that's valid for another six months. It's also important to note that some countries start counting this period from the day you arrive and others from the day you're expected to leave.

So to be sure, always ensure that your passport will be valid for another six months starting from the date you're flying back home.

Is it legal to carry my ID instead of a passport when traveling?

What do i do if my passport gets lost or stolen during a vacation.

If you lose your passport or it gets stolen during your vacation, then the first thing that you need to do is get in touch with the local embassy or consulate of your citizenship. You can find the appropriate contact details by Googling: "Your country" + embassy consulate in + "the country you're staying in".

Before returning home, you'll have to get a new passport, which usually can be done in a few days but in urgent cases, even within one day. Before going to the consulate, you'll most likely need to make a new photo for the new passport. After getting in touch with the consulate, they'll tell you all the necessary details.

That's why we recommend people have photocopies of their old passport on hand, to speed up the process, and to already note down the embassy contact details before going on a trip.

Where do I keep my money and cards when traveling?

Ideally, you should keep most of your money and important credit cards in a [amazon link="B017AHHFNK" title="travel wallet"] around your neck, hidden underneath your clothes. You can keep a minimal amount of cash and a debit card with a low balance (which you can top up if needed) in your regular wallet. This will minimize your losses in case you lose your wallet or you get mugged.

Read Next: 80 Packing Tips For International Travel

Clever Journey | Travel Gear Reviews, Packing Tips, Travel Advice

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You can submit the SGAC via:

  • SGAC e-Service  (submit online here) ; or
  • MyICA Mobile application - Download the official app for free from the  App Store (iOS)  or  Google Play (Android)  and enjoy seamless submissions with the MyICA Mobile app. Travellers are encouraged to download the MyICA Mobile application for your own convenience. The profile-saving function in the app can auto-populate relevant profile information for your subsequent trips to Singapore.  Find out how the MyICA Mobile app can bring convenience to you on-the-go.

SGAC submission is free of charge.  ICA  does not  support or endorse services offered by commercial entities assisting to submit the SG Arrival Card at a fee. They are not affiliated with ICA.

All travellers are required to submit the SG Arrival Card before arriving in Singapore, except:

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*Long-Term Pass holders include holders of Student’s Pass, Dependant’s Pass, Long-Term Visit Pass and Work Pass

You are required to submit the SGAC within three (3) days (including the day of arrival) before arrival in Singapore .* This is to avoid unnecessary delays during immigration clearance upon your arrival.

*For example, if you are arriving in Singapore on 30 Jun 2023, you can submit your declaration from 28 Jun 2023 onwards.

  • The SG Arrival Card is not a visa.  For more information on general entry requirements, please visit the  Entering Singapore  page. It contains information such as  Visa requirements .
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  • You will receive an acknowledgement email sent to the email address declared in your SGAC upon successful submission.

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These Passport Holders Are Popular With Amazon Shoppers

On Assignment For HuffPost

Pink and sage passport holders from Amazon

As most international travelers know, one of the worst things that can happen when you’re abroad is losing your passport. Not having a passport means you won’t be able to get into the next country you’re traveling to and, even worse, it can make it hard to get home.

Before you panic and cancel your trip overseas, there are measures in place to make sure you aren’t totally stranded if you lose your passport. But those options are expensive and inconvenient, so why go through it at all? With that in mind, here are 10 great passport holders Amazon shoppers swear by.

HuffPost and its publishing partners may receive a commission from some purchases made via links on this page. Every item is independently curated by the HuffPost Shopping team. Prices and availability are subject to change.

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TravelPass® FAQs

TravelPass lets you take your talk, text and data with you to 210+ countries and destinations for a set daily fee. For more information about using your device internationally, visit our Trip Planner .

TravelPass days on us

What is travelpass.

TravelPass lets you use your domestic talk, text and data* in 210+ countries and destinations outside the US for a set daily fee. Calling within the country you're visiting and back to the US are both included with this plan. *High speed data applies for the first 2 GB/day with 3G speeds thereafter. If more than 50% of your talk, text or data usage in a 60-day period is in Canada or Mexico, use of those services in those countries may be removed or limited.

How will I be charged for TravelPass?

You're only charged on days you use your device in a TravelPass country :

  • $5/day in Mexico and Canada. Remember, calling, texting and data use in Mexico and Canada are included at no extra cost in our Unlimited mobile plans.
  • $10/day in other TravelPass countries.
  • If you travel to 2 countries within a single 24-hour session or have a layover in a different country on your way to your final destination, you're still only charged for the first session.
  • There's no charge when you're in the US.

What will I be charged if I call another country other than the one I'm visiting or the US?

You will be charged as per your International Long Distance plan. If you do not have one, you will be charged international long distance pay per minute rates.

How does TravelPass work?

After you add TravelPass to your line:

  • A 24-hour TravelPass session starts automatically when you use your device in a TravelPass country (e.g., make or answer a phone call, send a text or use data).
  • You must turn on cellular data or data roaming when you go to the TravelPass country to use Travel Pass.
  • App content refreshing (e.g., Weather apps, Fitness Tracker, etc.)
  • Syncing (e.g., with email)
  • Device or app software updates
  • 2 hours after the session starts we send you a text letting you know when your 24-hour TravelPass session ends. Using your device after that time will start a new session.

Which countries can I call with TravelPass?

With TravelPass, you can call within the country you're visiting and you can call back to the US. If you want to call a different country, add an International Long Distance Plan to your line in My Verizon website or the My Verizon app. If you don't add an international long distance plan you'll be charged international long distance pay per minute rates for these calls.

Can I use Wi-Fi calling with TravelPass?

Wi-Fi calling isn't included with TravelPass. Wi-Fi calling to a country other than the US is charged international long distance rates regardless of whether or not you have an international travel plan.

How do I add TravelPass to my line?

You can add TravelPass to your line by:

  • Visiting the Trip Planner in My Verizon.
  • Texting the word Travel to 4004.
  • For TravelPass to work, you must turn on cellular data or data roaming when you go to the TravelPass country.

Do I have to opt in every day to use TravelPass?

No, you don't need to opt in every day. Add TravelPass once and it stays on your line so you're all set for your next trip. You're only charged for the days that you use your device in a TravelPass country . There's no charge when you're in the US.

How do I get more high speed data once I've reached my limit?

TravelPass gives you high-speed data for the first 2 GB/day. After that, you'll have unlimited data at 3G speeds for the remainder of your TravelPass session. To get more high speed data after you use the daily 2 GB:

  • This additional data costs $5 in Mexico and Canada, $10 in all other TravelPass countries.
  • Reply speed to get the added high speed data.

You can buy additional 2 GB of high speed data multiple times during a single 24-hour session. Note: Additional high speed data sessions are not available in Andorra, Burundi, Bahrain, Ethiopia, Kiribati, Kosovo, Mauritius, Namibia, Nepal, Pakistan, Sudan, South Sudan, Zimbabwe.

How do I get TravelPass days on us?

You get TravelPass days on us when you have:

  • 5G Get More*, 5G Do More* – Get a TravelPass day each month.
  • Verizon Visa Card – You get 2 TravelPass days per calendar year if you apply and are approved for the Verizon Visa Card.

*No longer available to add to your account.

Can I see how many TravelPass days I have?

All of your TravelPass days are stored in your TravelPass bank. To view your TravelPass bank:

  • In the My Verizon app, tap the Menu icon in the top left corner of the screen.
  • Tap Verizon Up .
  • Scroll down to Manage your TravelPass days.

You’ll see the number of TravelPass days you have. You can tap Manage to see the expiration dates of each of your TravelPass days and/or transfer* them to another eligible line on your account. *TravelPass days earned with 5G Get More or 5G Do More phone plans can't be transferred to other lines.

How do I use my TravelPass days?

The TravelPass days assigned to your line are automatically used when you have TravelPass active on your line and travel outside the US to a TravelPass country. When you arrive at your international destination, you receive a text message telling you how many TravelPass days you have. Once all your TravelPass days are used, the normal TravelPass daily fee will be applied. Note: TravelPass days aren't eligible for use on cruise ships .

Can I transfer my TravelPass days to another line on my account?

TravelPass days you get through the Verizon Visa Card can be transferred to another eligible line on the account. The Account Owner or Account Manager can make the transfer through the My Verizon app:

  • Go to your TravelPass bank in the My Verizon app.
  • Tap Manage .
  • Tap Reassign next to the TravelPass day you want to transfer to another line.
  • Select the eligible line you want to reassign the TravelPass day to.

The TravelPass day is now assigned to that line. Note:

  • TravelPass days you receive from your Verizon Visa Card won't automatically be assigned. You can view them and assign them on the Use Rewards tab of the Verizon Up screen in the My Verizon app.
  • TravelPass days earned with 5G Get More* or 5G Do More* phone plans can't be transferred to other lines.

Do my TravelPass days expire?

Here's when your TravelPass days expire:

  • Verizon Visa Card: TravelPass days expire at the end of the calendar year.
  • 5G Get More* and 5G Do More* TravelPass days expire 12 months after you receive them.

Tips on using TravelPass

Length: 1:00

Video Transcript

Verizon TravelPass Hi there! If you're planning on traveling abroad, we have a few simple tips to help you get the most out of your Verizon phone and your TravelPass. Make sure you enable roaming before you go, so that you can use data and voice services internationally. Go to settings, select cellular, then roaming, and make sure data and voice roaming are turned on. Remember, it may take up to three minutes for your phone to connect to local networks. If you experience service issues, be sure to turn your device off, then back on. This is a simple, yet effective way to reconnect your device to the international network while traveling. Making calls while outside the US will always need the international access code followed by a country code, and then the number you're calling. So on your iPhone, hold down the zero until you see the plus sign appear, enter the country code, then dial the number you want to call. And if you call a contact stored on your phone, double check that you've included the "+" and the country code. For more travel tips from Verizon, follow the link below: That's all for now! Enjoy your trip!

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my safe travel pass

In June 2020 I was kidnapped by armed men and held for ransom. Unlike thousands of other Mexicans who have been taken, I survived. This is my story, and the story of how violence has destroyed families, lives and my country. Photographs and text by Manuel Bayo Gisbert

I was kidnapped by armed men and held for ransom. Unlike thousands of other Mexicans who have been taken, I survived. This is my story, and the story of how violence has destroyed families, lives and my country. Photographs and text by Manuel Bayo Gisbert

Looking for the Missing People of Mexico

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My partner at the time and I were on a highway on the outskirts of Mexico City shooting an experimental film when a group of armed men approached us. Our mistake: using a camera in the wrong place, at the wrong time.

We were abducted near Parres, a town where poverty and corruption have created a haven for criminal gangs. The men took us to a cliff, where we were tortured and sexually abused, all while our families heard us scream in pain and beg for our lives from the other end of the phone line.

Fourteen hours later, after our families paid a $1,500 ransom, we were released.

Once home, I became a prisoner again — this time of my own fears. I became paranoid that the armed men might return to take us or our families. To get my life back, I needed to understand what had happened to me and why.

I searched for answers in the stories of those who were also taken but, unlike me, never returned. I turned to the families of the missing people of Mexico.

A Long History of Disappearances

A touchstone in my country’s history: In 1965, a group of rural teachers and farmers attacked a military barracks in Ciudad Madera, a small city in the state of Chihuahua. Demanding the fair distribution of farmland — the great unfulfilled promise of the Mexican Revolution — the protesters-turned-guerrillas were killed. “They want land, so give them soil until they can’t take it anymore,” Chihuahua’s governor, Práxedes Giner Durán, said when he gave orders to bury the bodies in a mass grave.

This story was repeated in the decade that followed, when farmers from the mountains of Atoyac de Álvarez, led by a teacher, Lucio Cabañas, took up arms, once again asking for equality. The response: about 500 people were taken from Atoyac and its surroundings by the army and the Mexican national security services. Their relatives continue searching for them in the jungles of Guerrero.

In the years that followed, savage acts of counterinsurgency and government-sponsored abuse left thousands of families and communities scarred and incomplete.

In the northern city of Ciudad Juarez, on the Texas border, hundreds of women were raped, killed or disappeared between 1993 and 2003, many at the hands of drug smugglers. The brutalization of these women — known as las muertas de Juárez, the dead women of Juárez — was a turning point for Mexico. Soon after, in 2006, the new president, Felipe Calderón, declared a war on drugs, a military-led campaign supposedly intended to eradicate violence. Instead, it resulted in a huge increase in disappearances and killings. Massacres ensued; tortured corpses surfaced all over the country.

The violence continued to grow. At the end of President Calderón's term in 2012 there were over 25,000 missing people; today, the official number has crossed 116,000 . But many disappearances are never reported. The true number may be as high as 500,000.

I have interviewed and photographed over 200 survivors and families of the disappeared. The details vary but much of their stories echoes one another.

A Land Polluted by Violence

In the months after I was kidnapped I joined the National Search Brigade for the Disappeared, a group that bridges the hundreds of search collectives scattered throughout Mexico. In 2021 that work took me to the state of Veracruz, on the Gulf of Mexico.

For more than 10 years, Veracruz has been besieged by violence among rival cartels. A group of families looking for their missing loved ones there discovered sites where cartels take their victims to be “ cooked .” During one of the searches, I found what seemed to be small black rocks in the soil that crumbled to the touch; what I was holding were actually charred human remains.

Residents described regularly seeing fires burning through the night as the cartels incinerated corpses. Without fail, they said to us, the following morning the navy would come to clean up the scene. No bodies, no evidence, no crime. (The Mexican government did not respond to these allegations, nor to others accusing the military forces or the police of participating in forced disappearances.)

The “cooking” sites of Veracruz are one in a long list of initiatives allegedly sponsored by the government to cover up cartel crimes. Across the country, criminal groups set strict curfews and threaten to murder or kidnap anyone who breaks them, which local law enforcement silently blesses. Dozens of people are killed on average every day by paramilitary and criminal groups, with mutilated corpses found inside freezers, buried in mass graves or left in broad daylight in plazas and parks.

In 2014, 43 students from Ayotzinapa disappeared at the hands of a local cartel in collusion with the police and the army. An inquiry into their whereabouts by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights ended with investigators complaining of repeated lies and obstruction by the armed forces.

A former defense minister who was indicted in the U.S. for allegedly taking bribes to protect cartel leaders was released to Mexico, reportedly after pressure from the current president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador. (Upon his return, the former minister was cleared after Mexico’s attorney general found no evidence of wrongdoing.)

President López Obrador, who was elected on the promise of bringing an end to state-sponsored violence, has instead greatly expanded military control, and has presided over the highest homicide rates in Mexico’s recent history.

Our own land keeps the secrets.

In Mexico, We Harvest Pain and Death

On Aug. 19, 2023, three years after I was kidnapped, my uncle Fernando Bayo was taken by four armed men in Acapulco. Seven hours later he was found strangled by a wire. I felt relieved that the body was found. At the very least, thanks to the efforts of members of the National Search Brigade, we knew what had happened to him.

Mexico is a society that has been taught to keep moving, not to remember. Yet some of us continue to resist, each in our own way: defending our own territories against the gangs, tracking down clandestine graves, reporting on the many stories of the shattered families and communities.

In 2022, some families of the missing renamed a traffic circle in Mexico City as the Glorieta de las y los Desaparecidos, or Roundabout of the Disappeared, in an attempt to turn the space, a dead tree at its center, into a memorial. In response, the government fenced off the area with metal barricades, which the families then painted and covered with the faces of their missing loved ones. The roundabout stands today as a constant reminder that the missing existed.

We need to reclaim what the current of violence has dragged away from us, however far we must look for it.

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Sometimes, I am convinced that being dead is easier than having to live with the pain that people touched by violence bear — whether they were the victims, witnesses or perpetrators themselves. Every time I see someone digging in jungles and vacant lots in the hope of finding their children, and closure, I think how violence has turned them into the harvesters of Mexico: They glean pain and death. What else can a country reap when all it sows are corpses?


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The huge solar storm is keeping power grid and satellite operators on edge

Geoff Brumfiel, photographed for NPR, 17 January 2019, in Washington DC.

Geoff Brumfiel

Willem Marx

my safe travel pass

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured this image of solar flares early Saturday afternoon. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says there have been measurable effects and impacts from the geomagnetic storm. Solar Dynamics Observatory hide caption

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured this image of solar flares early Saturday afternoon. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says there have been measurable effects and impacts from the geomagnetic storm.

Planet Earth is getting rocked by the biggest solar storm in decades – and the potential effects have those people in charge of power grids, communications systems and satellites on edge.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says there have been measurable effects and impacts from the geomagnetic storm that has been visible as aurora across vast swathes of the Northern Hemisphere. So far though, NOAA has seen no reports of major damage.

Photos: See the Northern lights from rare solar storm

The Picture Show

Photos: see the northern lights from rare, solar storm.

There has been some degradation and loss to communication systems that rely on high-frequency radio waves, NOAA told NPR, as well as some preliminary indications of irregularities in power systems.

"Simply put, the power grid operators have been busy since yesterday working to keep proper, regulated current flowing without disruption," said Shawn Dahl, service coordinator for the Boulder, Co.-based Space Weather Prediction Center at NOAA.

NOAA Issues First Severe Geomagnetic Storm Watch Since 2005

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"Satellite operators are also busy monitoring spacecraft health due to the S1-S2 storm taking place along with the severe-extreme geomagnetic storm that continues even now," Dahl added, saying some GPS systems have struggled to lock locations and offered incorrect positions.

NOAA's GOES-16 satellite captured a flare erupting occurred around 2 p.m. EDT on May 9, 2024.

As NOAA had warned late Friday, the Earth has been experiencing a G5, or "Extreme," geomagnetic storm . It's the first G5 storm to hit the planet since 2003, when a similar event temporarily knocked out power in part of Sweden and damaged electrical transformers in South Africa.

The NOAA center predicted that this current storm could induce auroras visible as far south as Northern California and Alabama.

Extreme (G5) geomagnetic conditions have been observed! — NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center (@NWSSWPC) May 10, 2024

Around the world on social media, posters put up photos of bright auroras visible in Russia , Scandinavia , the United Kingdom and continental Europe . Some reported seeing the aurora as far south as Mallorca, Spain .

The source of the solar storm is a cluster of sunspots on the sun's surface that is 17 times the diameter of the Earth. The spots are filled with tangled magnetic fields that can act as slingshots, throwing huge quantities of charged particles towards our planet. These events, known as coronal mass ejections, become more common during the peak of the Sun's 11-year solar cycle.

A powerful solar storm is bringing northern lights to unusual places

Usually, they miss the Earth, but this time, NOAA says several have headed directly toward our planet, and the agency predicted that several waves of flares will continue to slam into the Earth over the next few days.

While the storm has proven to be large, predicting the effects from such incidents can be difficult, Dahl said.

Shocking problems

The most disruptive solar storm ever recorded came in 1859. Known as the "Carrington Event," it generated shimmering auroras that were visible as far south as Mexico and Hawaii. It also fried telegraph systems throughout Europe and North America.

Stronger activity on the sun could bring more displays of the northern lights in 2024

Stronger activity on the sun could bring more displays of the northern lights in 2024

While this geomagnetic storm will not be as strong, the world has grown more reliant on electronics and electrical systems. Depending on the orientation of the storm's magnetic field, it could induce unexpected electrical currents in long-distance power lines — those currents could cause safety systems to flip, triggering temporary power outages in some areas.

my cat just experienced the aurora borealis, one of the world's most radiant natural phenomena... and she doesn't care — PJ (@kickthepj) May 10, 2024

The storm is also likely to disrupt the ionosphere, a section of Earth's atmosphere filled with charged particles. Some long-distance radio transmissions use the ionosphere to "bounce" signals around the globe, and those signals will likely be disrupted. The particles may also refract and otherwise scramble signals from the global positioning system, according to Rob Steenburgh, a space scientist with NOAA. Those effects can linger for a few days after the storm.

Like Dahl, Steenburgh said it's unclear just how bad the disruptions will be. While we are more dependent than ever on GPS, there are also more satellites in orbit. Moreover, the anomalies from the storm are constantly shifting through the ionosphere like ripples in a pool. "Outages, with any luck, should not be prolonged," Steenburgh said.

What Causes The Northern Lights? Scientists Finally Know For Sure

What Causes The Northern Lights? Scientists Finally Know For Sure

The radiation from the storm could have other undesirable effects. At high altitudes, it could damage satellites, while at low altitudes, it's likely to increase atmospheric drag, causing some satellites to sink toward the Earth.

The changes to orbits wreak havoc, warns Tuija Pulkkinen, chair of the department of climate and space sciences at the University of Michigan. Since the last solar maximum, companies such as SpaceX have launched thousands of satellites into low Earth orbit. Those satellites will now see their orbits unexpectedly changed.

"There's a lot of companies that haven't seen these kind of space weather effects before," she says.

The International Space Station lies within Earth's magnetosphere, so its astronauts should be mostly protected, Steenburgh says.

In a statement, NASA said that astronauts would not take additional measures to protect themselves. "NASA completed a thorough analysis of recent space weather activity and determined it posed no risk to the crew aboard the International Space Station and no additional precautionary measures are needed," the agency said late Friday.

my safe travel pass

People visit St Mary's lighthouse in Whitley Bay to see the aurora borealis on Friday in Whitley Bay, England. Ian Forsyth/Getty Images hide caption

People visit St Mary's lighthouse in Whitley Bay to see the aurora borealis on Friday in Whitley Bay, England.

While this storm will undoubtedly keep satellite operators and utilities busy over the next few days, individuals don't really need to do much to get ready.

"As far as what the general public should be doing, hopefully they're not having to do anything," Dahl said. "Weather permitting, they may be visible again tonight." He advised that the largest problem could be a brief blackout, so keeping some flashlights and a radio handy might prove helpful.

I took these photos near Ranfurly in Central Otago, New Zealand. Anyone can use them please spread far and wide. :-) — Dr Andrew Dickson reform/ACC (@AndrewDickson13) May 10, 2024

And don't forget to go outside and look up, adds Steenburgh. This event's aurora is visible much further south than usual.

A faint aurora can be detected by a modern cell phone camera, he adds, so even if you can't see it with your eyes, try taking a photo of the sky.

The aurora "is really the gift from space weather," he says.

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  • solar flares
  • solar storm


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