Traveling the world is a great privilege. Seeing and experiencing different cultures, values and ways of life should be on every individual’s to-do list, as it teaches us more than any textbook could ever explain. In the United States, obtaining a passport for the first time is a multi-step process that is fairly simple and straightforward, but if must be done in-person. If you’re making plans to leave the country any time in the near future, the sooner you apply for your passport, the less stressful your planning period will be.
Like all great applications, the passport application form is detailed and secure. You may fill out your information online and print a completed copy or do it the old-fashioned way and scribe your credentials by hand. Either way, make sure you don’t sign your name until you hand it over to an Acceptance Agent – this is very important.
Next, you’ll need to take a passport photo. It’s recommended you have a professional do the job, since he or she will have an understanding of the requirements. Most photo centers and even some drugstores offer this service at a reasonable rate, so there are multiple options to explore.
After you’ve taken a satisfactory picture, find a document or two that serves as proof of citizenship. A birth certificate, naturalization certificate and certificate of citizenship are all valid forms.
In addition to the application, passport photo and proof of citizenship, you’ll also need a photocopy of your identification. If you don’t have a driver’s license, a government ID, military ID or Naturalization Certificate will suffice.
5. Pay & Present
Once you’ve gathered all of these components, you may submit the materials to your nearest Acceptance Agency of Passport Facility. You local Post Office generally serves as both, so you won’t need to travel far. Be prepared to face additional charges if the process needs to be expedited for any reason; otherwise, only the application and execution fees will apply.
Processing generally takes four to six weeks, and you have the option to track your application online. Once that shiny, blue booklet arrives, you’ll be set to fill those pages with all the stamps you please!
Wherever you go, take us with you!