You need to get a U.S. passport before you travel anywhere outside the USA as well as on some cruise ships. Passports are the best forms of identification you can get and are accepted by governments around the world. It’s usually better to get a passport through the U.S. government, and not a commercial passport application agency; even if you need to get a passport fast, they won’t speed up the process any more than you can. Here is your guide:
What You Need to Apply for a Passport
- Passport application forms
- Proof of U.S. citizenship
- Proof of your identity
- Two current photographs
- Your social security number
- Applicable fee payment method
Step 1: The first step requires you to download the relevant U.S. government forms. You can grab a passport application from any U.S. post office, or download the passport application forms online and print them out from home. CLICK HERE FOR FORMS
If printing, “The forms…must be printed in black print on white paper 8 1/2 ” x 11” without holes or perforations, medium (20 lb.) weight, and with a matte surface. Thermal paper, dye-sublimation paper, special inkjet paper, and other shiny papers are not acceptable.
Step 2: First, read the instructions from start to finish and fill out the forms.
Step 3: Next, you’ll need to gather proof of your American citizen. The following proof is accepted:
- Certified U.S. birth certificate issued by the city, county, or state (not a copy). Call the government of the state in which you were born to get an official version with a notary’s seal. Know that the birth certificate must list the full name(s) of your parent(s). If you don’t have a birth certificate, you can still get a passport.
- Records of birth abroad if you weren’t born in the United States
- Naturalization certificate
- Certificate of citizenship
Be prepared to prove your identity with any one of these:
- Previous U.S. passport (altered or damaged passports are not accepted)
- Naturalization certificate
- Certificate of Citizenship
- Current, valid:
- Driver’s license
- Government ID: city, state, or federal
- Military ID: military and dependents
Step 4: Two passport photos are required. In your photos, you should make sure to wear your normal, everyday clothes (no uniforms) and nothing on your head. If you usually wear glasses or other items that alter your appearance, wear them. Look straight ahead and don’t smile. The post office does take passport photos but I prefer Wallgreens. If you get passport photos taken elsewhere, read up first on passport photo requirements to make sure they’ll qualify.
Step 5: If you don’t have your Social Security number memorized, write it down and add it to the materials you’ve assembled or bring your Social Security Card with you for the passport application.
Step 6: Prepare to pay the application fees; 2020 Passport Fees: New Passport (for adults age 16 and older): For a new adult passport book: $110 application fee and a $35 execution fee. The new total fee is $145. Passport Cards (for adults age 16 and older): The application fee is $30 and the execution fee is $35. The new total fee is $65.
Step 7: Go get your passport! , Find the passport office location nearest you (it might just be the post office). Second, Hand in your completed forms, passport photos, and money for the passport. For an additional fee of $60 plus overnight delivery fees, you can rush a U.S. passport application, and you may even be able to get a passport on the same day that you apply for funerals and family emergencies.
Step 8: Check your application status. After a week, you can check your application’s status online.
Tips and Tricks for Passport Applications
- The US passport fee is $110 (plus $35 fee) if you are 16 and older, and the U.S. passport is good for ten years.
- The US passport fee is $80 (plus $35 fee) if you are under 16, and the new passport is good for five years.
- Some countries require that your passport be valid for a six month period after you leave that country for a return to the United States. Make sure you have enough pages for VISAS stamps too.
- Remember that you need a passport or other WHTI-compliant document to travel back to the U.S. from Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean, and Bermuda.
- Leave a copy of your passport at home, and email a copy to yourself with other important travel documents. If you lose your passport overseas, having a copy will make getting a temporary or replacement passport far easier.
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