If you travel outside of the country, you will need to obtain a passport. There are certain steps that you have to go through before you can get this form of ID. In this article you will learn what you have to do to get your passport.
- Get Your Documents Together
You will first need to make a point of getting together all of the necessary documents. This includes your birth certificate, previous passport, driver’s license, or some other form of photo identification. If you don’t have your original birth certificate, you can get one from the city hall where you were born.
- Fill out the DS-11 Form
Next you will need to get a copy of the DS-11 form, which is specifically for passport applicants. You can also go online and print out a copy of this form. It has to be filled out in full, and it’s important to read all of the instructions on the third page.
- Find a Post Office or Passport Agency
Most post offices in the U.S. will accept DS-11 passport applications. You can go onto the official USPS website to find the closest location. There are also passport agencies across the country where you can go to apply for a passport or renew one. If you aren’t sure if a certain post office in your area offers passport processing, you can always call them up before heading there.
- Get Your Passport Photo
You can obtain your passport photo from most U.S. post offices as well as passport agencies. There are other places like CVS and Walgreens that do passport photos, but they aren’t always reliable. Make sure that you have carefully read through all of the requirements for these photos. You must have a neutral expression in the photo and nothing on your head like a hat. The background also must be a certain shade of blue. It is best to get your picture taken at a designated passport application center so you aren’t taking any chances.
- Choose the Right Processing Option
There are going to be numerous processing options available when you are filling out passport application. This entire process can take up to two months. If you need your passport sooner, you can choose a faster processing option. Keep in mind that you will end up having to pay more for expedited processing, but it could be worth it.
- Find Out How Much You Will Owe
The total amount that you pay for a passport will depend on a couple different factors, including the processing option you have selected. It will also depend on whether you are getting a brand new passport or renewing an old one. You can expect to pay anywhere from $110 to $220. Make sure that you have the money on hand before going to a post office or passport agency to turn in your application. You will most likely be able to submit payment in the form of cash or any major credit/debit card.
- Turn in Your Application
The final step is going to a passport agency or post office in your area to turn in your application and pay all of the required fees. This is something that you must do in person.
- If you have legally changed your name since obtaining a passport, you will have to apply in person for a new one. The same applies if you have lost your passport or it was stolen.
- If you are applying for a passport for your child, you will have to bring their original birth certificate and a copy of your photo ID. Both parents of the child are required to submit their signatures when filing an application for a passport.
- Make sure that you take the time to fill out your passport application in full. Do not leave any field blank. Double check your application to make sure that all of the information on it is completely accurate and up to date. If it is not, your application could be denied and you will have to file again.
- It is a good idea to file an application to renew your passport nine months prior to the expiration date.
- If you are going to travel out of the country, you should keep your passport on your person at all times. You will most likely have to show it to someone before boarding the plan and when you arrive at your destination. Keep it somewhere safe so it doesn’t get lost or stolen.
- Always have a copy of your passport somewhere in your house or stored online. This will make it a lot easier to obtain a temporary passport if you lose yours.
- There are some countries that will require your passport to be valid six months after you have departed back to the U.S. You should double check just to make sure.