Don’t have your passport? If not, no worries! If you are a U.S. citizen, it’s rather easy to obtain. Even if you are not planning international travel “soon”, it is a primary form of identification. It is also valid for 10 years so you will have plenty of time to put it to use.
Let’s get started with some FAQs regarding the passport process.
Q: Do I need a passport book or card?
A: “The U.S. Passport Card can be used to enter the United States from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda at land border crossings or sea ports-of-entry and is more convenient and less expensive than a passport book. The passport card cannot be used for international travel by air.” If you are ONLY planning to drive to Canada or Mexico or taking a cruise, then a passport card is adequate. If you are planning any other international travel, you will need the book. In my opinion, it is smarter to get the book, as you can use this to go anywhere.
Q: How do I apply?
A: The U.S. Department of State lists EVERYTHING you will need to apply. The site is very user-friendly! It will take you through each step and allow you to print a blank or completed form.
Q: What if I don’t have a printer?
A: After following the above prompts, you are able to search acceptance facilities by your zip code, i.e. post offices, court houses, etc. These facilities will have applications that you can fill out in person.
Q: Where do I get a photo?
A: Some of the facilities mentioned above have on-site photos. You must pay more, of course. You should always check with the facility beforehand. An easier route is often using CVS or Walgreens. Just tell the photo-lab associate that you need a passport photo taken.
Q: I am in a rush and traveling soon! What do I do?
A: When you calculate the fees on the DOS (Dept. of State) website, you will see the option to expedite. This will expedite it to 2-3 weeks opposed to the 4-6 weeks. If you live in a city where there is an agency, and you are traveling within 2-4 weeks, you can have it expedited to the agency which takes approximately 8 days. *To be eligible, you must make an appointment at a passport Agency and provide proof of travel within 2 weeks, or 4 weeks if you also need to apply for a visa.
- Many facilities only accept checks or money orders. Please verify acceptable payment methods with the acceptance facility ahead of time.
- USE THE U.S. DEPT OF STATE WEBSITE! Everything you need related to travel documentation is there. Country specific information is also there. For example, in some countries, you need a tourist visa to visit and some countries require vaccinations. I always use the site prior to traveling.
Did I skip something? How easy/difficult do you find this process to be? Feel free to comment.