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How To Get A Passport

Posted By Jim On 01/23/2007 @ 5:54 pm In Government | 5 Comments

Given the new passport rules, I thought it might be helpful to give some helpful instructions on how one goes about applying for and getting a United States Passport.

What You’ll Need

  • Passport application form [3]. If it’s your first time (or first time in a long time), you’ll likely need the DS-11 [4]; if it’s a renewal, you’ll likely need DS-82 [5]. Both have online versions you can fill out online and print out (DS-11 Online [6], DS-82 Online [7]). DO NOT SIGN those documents, you must sign them in person!
  • Two photographs of yourself. The photos must be 2″ x 2″, identical, taken within the last six months, full color, frontal with a white or off-white background, and some other specifications. Basically, you need to have them done at a place that does Passport photos.
  • Proof of U.S. Citizenship. This is most easily achieved by an expired Passport or a certified Birth Certificate (one with a raised or embossed seal); but you can also use a Consular Report of Birth Abroad or Certification of Birth, Naturalization Certificate, or a Certificate of Citizenship. A military ID is not sufficient. If you don’t have any of those, there is a full list of acceptable options here [8].
  • Valid form of photo identification. Again, if you have an expired Passport then that’s your best bet but if not, you can try a Naturalization Certificate or a current and valid Driver’s license, government ID (city, state or federal), or a military ID. If none of those work, there are a few more options here [8].
  • Your social security number – Not sure why this is necessary but if you don’t, apparently the IRS can impose a $500 penalty. The State Department doesn’t specify if you need your social security card but I’d bring it if you have it handy.

Where To Go

Your best bet is to go to a post office but there are a whole bunch of official places you can go to including courthouses, some libraries and a few county and municipal offices. There are also regional passport agencies and 1 Gateway City Agency, which can do a rush job if you need it for travel in two weeks – those require appointments. If you’re renewing, you can just mail it in, new applicants will have to appear in person.

How Much Will It Cost?
$97 if you’re over 16, $82 if you’re younger, only $67 if it’s a renewal – you can pay with credit, debit, check, etc. If you want it expedited, it’s an additional $60.

How Long Will It Take?
6 weeks normally but 2 weeks if you get it expedited (at a cost of $60). Some have stated that applying during a slow period (September or December) may get you your passport faster than six weeks – your mileage may vary.

Expiration Dates…
If you are 15 or under, the passport will be good for five years. if you are 16 or older, the passport will be good for ten years. Lastly, while this isn’t part of the process but worth mentioning – some countries require that your passport’s expiration date be at least 3 to 6 months past the date of entry or exit. If your trip puts you within that six month expiration window, call up the embassy/consulate of the nation you’re visiting and see what their special expiration rules are.

Good luck and remember to send me a postcard!

Source: State Department [9]

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[2] Email: mailto:?subject=http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/how-to-get-a-passport.html

[3] Passport application form: http://travel.state.gov/passport/forms/forms_847.html

[4] DS-11: http://travel.state.gov/passport/forms/ds11/ds11_842.html

[5] DS-82: http://travel.state.gov/passport/forms/ds82/ds82_843.html

[6] DS-11 Online: https://pptform.state.gov/?Submit2=COMPLETE+FORM+DS-11+ONLINE

[7] DS-82 Online: https://pptform2.state.gov/DS82/Eligibility.aspx

[8] here: http://travel.state.gov/passport/get/first/first_830.html

[9] State Department: http://travel.state.gov/passport/passport_1738.html

Thank you for reading!