Applying for a United States passport

The boys’ passports just came in the mail today.  Woo-hoo!  We are set for Belize.

I’ve had a few people ask me about the process to obtain a passport.  I realize, it’s not an everyday occurrence so I thought I’d quickly outline the process.

1) Get and fill out the application. Applications are available at the United States Post Office or online at the US Department of State.  DO NOT SIGN until instructed to do so.

2) Have your photo taken.  There are very specific requirements for a US Passport photo.  Most major drug stores and shipping stores offer passport photo services, as does Wal-Mart.

3) Schedule an appointment to submit your application at your local Post Office.  This ensures they can meet with you. If you arrive without an appointment, do not be surprised if they ask you to schedule one.

 4) Bring your certified birth certificate.  It cannot be a copy, it must be certified. They will keep it with the application and return it at the same time they send the passport.

5) Have a photo id and know your social security number.

6) If you have a child under age 16, both parents/guardians and the child must be present. If one parent can’t be present, there is additional documentation needed. Children’s passports are only for 5 years.

7) Pay the fees. The current fees are $135 for adults and $105 for children. You must have cash, check or money order.  Credit cards are not accepted.

It takes about 4-6 weeks for a passport to arrive, so plan accordingly.  We got lucky and the boys’ were processed and sent at exactly 3 weeks.  You can expedite a passport, but it will cost a bit more ($60 to be exact).

Once those passports are in hand, the world is yours for the visiting!

Editor’s note:  I am not an employee of the federal government.  For a complete listing of guidelines visit the U.S. Department of State at http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/passports/apply.html

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