Heading overseas or even to Canada or Mexico, you need to travel with a passport. This is a form of identification accepted in all foreign countries and can also be helpful as a way to verify your identity as a citizen here in the United States. The first step is to obtain a passport application and review the guidelines for either first-time requests or for renewing an expiring passport.
Finding the right application and following the necessary steps can easily be done by visiting your local library. Most but not all post offices also carry passport applications. Some will also have times when they take your photo and process the applications on-site. It is best to call or look on-line to see what options the post office nearest you has available.
You can also get an application, print it and fill it out without leaving your home. Just go to your computer, type in United States Passport on your computer’s internet search engine and several sites, government and non-government, will pop up. Those that are not affiliated with the U. S. Government may ask you for a fee to download a guidebook and application. It is up to you whether you feel you need additional guidance to apply. However, basic instructions and applications are free and can be downloaded easily via postal service and state department sponsored websites.
If this is the first time you have applied or are under the age of 16, you will need to submit your application in person. As part of the process you will need to bring two pictures, and valid forms of identification. Consult the instructions for a list of acceptable methods of verifying your identity. If you had a passport previously but it has expired and the original issue date is more than 15 years ago, you will also have to apply in person. If you just need to renew one not already expired, or one less than 15 years since issuance and there have been no name changes, you can send your application by mail along with your fee and original passport. A new one will be issued and mailed to you.
Not planning to travel for several months? We suggest you submit your application through routine processing. It will take four to six weeks or, during busy summer travel season, up to 10 weeks. However, if you just found out about travel and need a passport super fast, there are ways to speed up your application. For those traveling in less than four weeks, there is an expedited process that includes overnight delivery to your home or office within two to three weeks. Are you traveling in less than 14 days? You will need to schedule an appointment to visit one of the passport agencies in person. Most major cities across the U.S. have a passport agency office.
There is a standard fee to process your application and for the passport booklet, or card. The fee varies depending on whether it is your first time applying or if you are renewing. Having the freedom to travel whenever you want and to almost anywhere in the world you would like is well worth the small investment. Also, once you receive your passport, it is good for 10 years if you are over the age of 16. If younger, it is valid for five years.
There are additional costs involved in expediting your applications. These include sending it through an overnight, certified delivery service and fees for the processor to expedite the application. If you are traveling on official government or corporate business, your agency or administrative officer will walk you through or even complete the process for you. When you have to handle it yourself, any expenses paid personally should be reimbursed by your agency or company.
One bonus of having a passport is using it as verification of citizenship for employment. When you are hired for just about any job today, you are asked to provide two forms of identification. This requirement is reduced to one if you are using an official passport. This form of I. D. tends to trump just about any other form. This is because it is issued by the federal government and you have already produced other forms of identification such as your original birth certificate to obtain one.