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All Star Activities Passport Tips

Who Needs a Passport?

If you are an American citizen and will be leaving the country you now need a passport.  This new law includes Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean.   The process to get a passport is not difficult but it is frustrating, especially at this point in time when everyone in the United States now needs to get one.   I just went through this process with my family and I was really nervous that the passports were not going to arrive before our trip.  However, they did two weeks early. 

This page will explain how long it takes to get a passport, where to get one, what documents are needed and what the fees are along with suggestions to help ease this process.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Passport?

If you do not have plans to travel abroad in the near future you may still want to consider getting the passports so that you have them ready when they are needed.  You must allow a great deal of time for  processing.   The earlier that you can go the better.  Expedited passports, which are an additional cost, are taking approximately 5 weeks and standard processing is taking months.  The passport offices are extremely busy.

Where Do I Get A Passport?

You can apply for a passport in many Federal, state and probate courts, post offices, some public libraries and a number of county and municipal offices.  However, not all locations do passports so you must check to see exactly what facility is available in your area.  The best thing to do is to check the National Passport Information Center at  www.travel.state.gov. Once you are on this site you can select  the following options to find a location near you:

  • Passports for U.S. Citizen

  • How to get a passport

  • Where to apply in the U.S.

  • Search by ZIP code

After you have determined your location be sure to call the facility to find out the time that they are open for passport applications.  A week day will be less crowded than on the weekend.  You should attempt to arrive at the facility when they open.  You have to wait in line to signup, and if you are one of the "X" number that they will process for the day then you can return at the estimated scheduled time later that day.  Again you should return early for your appointment. 

Again, not all locations are equipped to take passport photos.  So  you should verify that passport pictures are taken at the location that is nearest to you.   We chose to take pictures at an outside location and we actually saved money.   My family went to our local CVS and had our pictures taken and printed while we waited.  Some other locations that you can try for photos are FedEx Kinko stores, Sears photography center, Motophoto, UPS store and local photographers.

Applying for a Passport?

If you're applying for a passport for the first time, you must do so in person. You must also apply in person if your last passport was damaged or stolen or if your previous passport has expired and was issued more than 15 years ago, when you were under the age of 16, or under your old name and you don't have a legal document formally changing your name. Otherwise, you can apply for passport renewal by mail.

What documents will I need?

  • Proving Citizenship To prove that you are a U.S. citizen, you must bring a undamaged passport, or  a certified birth certificate (a copy is not acceptable).  Be advised that when you submit your application they will also take your original birth certificate and return it to you with the passport.

  • Proof of Identity:  You will also need proof of  identity. A previous, undamaged passport, naturalization certificate, certificate of citizenship, current driver's license, government ID, or military ID are all acceptable. Otherwise you can bring a combination of documents, such as your Social Security card, bank card, credit or library card, along with a U.S. citizen who has known you for at least two years and will vouch for your identity. 

  • Social Security Number:  In addition, you will need to provide the social security number of each person applying for a passport.

  • Passport Pictures:  Passport pictures must be two identical, color photos that are 2x2 inches in size.  They must be taken on a plain white or off-white background and should be full face, front view pictures in street clothes

What are the fees?

The fee is $97 for individuals 16 and over and $82 for those under 16.  For an additional fee of $60, plus the cost of overnight delivery, you can get your passport expeditied.  For more information, visit www.travel.state.gov. 

Payment is made in two steps: 

  • The application fee is paid directly to the U.S. Department of State and this  must be paid by personal check, money order, cash or bank drafts. NO
    CREDIT CARDS  are accepted for this portion of the fee.
      The application fee for individuals 16 and over is $67 and for those under 16 it is $52.

  • The execution fee will be paid  to the facility executing the application (i.e. post office) and they will accept money orders, bank drafts, and personal checks.  Cash and credit cards are accepted at some locations but not all.  The U.S. Postal system will accept credit cards.  This fee is $30 per person regardless of age.

Where Do I Get the Application?

It is beneficial to download an application and fill it out prior to going to the passport agency.  This will save time and will also allow you to fill out the forms at your leisure.  Forms can also be obtained from any passport agency.  Applications can be printed from www.travel.state.gov.  Select  the Passports for U.S. Citizens option and then Applications and Forms.

 

Minors Applying For a Passport?

 

All minors must apply in person for their passport.  If you're getting a passport for a child under the age of 14, you'll need proof of the minor's citizenship and proof of your relationship to the minor, such as a birth certificate, adoption decree, or court order establishing custody.  Both parents are required to be present for a child to obtain their passport.  If one of the parents can not appear, you must have a notarized statement of consent authorizing issuance of the passport or the parent or guardian who appears must have proof that he or she is the sole guardian.  Proof could be a birth certificate that lists only one parent, a court order granting sole custody, or a death certificate of the other parent.

 

Hope that these tips help with your passport process --- Have a terrific vacation!!!