How Do You Get a Passport?

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More and more people every year are making it their New Year’s resolution to travel more. More people are traveling within the states and out of the country. In 2016, 16,838,457 passport applications were received, and in 2017, 19,603,630 applications were received by the Department of State.

To travel outside of the country you do need an official passport. They are not as easy to come by as you may think either. There are several steps, documents, and fees that all need to be handled before you are issued a passport, especially if it’s your first-time applying for one. The passport process is not a one-day thing, if you are traveling soon, you need to start the process as soon as you possibly can.

Where Can I Apply for a Passport?

  • A passport agency
  • By mail
  • An acceptance facility (Post Office, Finance station, etc.)

What is the Difference between a Passport Card and a Passport Book?

Passport CardPassport Book
·         Valid for land, air, and sea travel·         May be cheaper than a passport
·         Valid for travel anywhere·         Valid to travel to Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, and the Caribbean
·         Required for all international air travel·         Required for international land and sea travel

1st-time applicant Passports:

  1. Gather documents.
    1. Print the application forms
    2. Government issued photo ID, and a photocopy of the front and back
    3. Proof of U.S. citizenship, and photocopy of the front and back
      1. Examples of the accepted documents:
        1. S. birth certificate
        2. Valid/expired, undamaged U.S. passport
        3. Certificate of Naturalization
        4. Certificate of Citizenship
        5. Letter of No Record
        6. Baptism certificate
        7. Hospital birth certificate
        8. Early school records
      2. Prepare to pay the passport application fees
        1. Passport fees are based on what all is included in the package that you choose. The execution fee is $25 regardless.
          1. Adult passport book & card: $140+$25=$165
          2. Adult passport book: $110+$25=$135
          3. Adult Passport card: $30+$25=$55
        2. On April 2, 2018, the U.S. passport execution fee will increase from $25 to $35. So keep that in mind, if you plan to get your passport after that date.
      3. Prepare your application package
        1. Complete the application. Do not sign your name, until you are in front of a U.S. Postal Office agent, or an affiliate agent.
        2. Have your passport photo taken
          1. The Post Office can take the photo for you or visit your nearest drug store.
        3. Calculate your fees
      4. Go to your nearest post office
        1. Not every Post Office issued passports, you call, click, or visit your local office, to see if the services are offered.
        2. You can either walk-in or make an appointment.

How Can I Pay for My Passport?

It’s really weird and somewhat inconvenient but the application fee and execution fee cannot be paid for together, they must be paid separately.  The application fee can be paid via check or money order, made out to the “U.S. Department of State”. Debit and credit cards are not accepted for the payment of the application fee.

The execution fee can be paid via check or money order. Some locations allow payment by credit cards, and also cash. The cash payment needs to be for the exact amount. Check ahead of time with the facility, to double-check what forms of payment are accepted.

How Long Will It Take to Get My Passport?

  • Once your application is completed and sent off, you can expect it in your mailbox within 4-6 weeks.
  • If you are planning to travel before the 4-6 week period, you can pay for expedited service, and receive your passport in 2-3 weeks.
  • If you have an emergency where you need to travel within the next few days, you can have your passport in 8 business days. An emergency situation is life or death, or you’re traveling within 2 weeks.

What if I Lose My Passport?

If in a series of awful events, you lose your passport, or it’s stolen, you need to immediately report it to the U.S. embassy, U.S. Department of State or another affiliate agency. Once reported, it will no longer be valid, and cannot be used for international travel. You will need to get it replaced. You can call, mail Form DS-64, or submit the document online, to start the replacement process.

Passport applications can be really tedious and frustrating. If there is anything missing or incorrect on your documents, the process will be delayed, and can result in it being returned to you. The key is to make a checklist of all of the things you need, and plan accordingly. Contact your local passport issuing location to check, and double-check your application documents.

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