The purpose of this article is to discuss getting a U.S. passport and respond to some of the questions you have asked about getting them and taking care of them.
If you’re traveling abroad in the next few months and need a passport quickly, then you may wish to consider some expedited methods of acquiring one.
When do I need a passport?
You must have a passport if you’re traveling to other countries. For the most part, it doesn’t matter what your nationality is-so long as you are going to another country. Don’t forget your passport!
And if you don’t think you will need it, bring it anyway as plans may change and if you don’t have it with you, you might regret your inability to go. That happened to me once.
And if you need to there are passport expediting options that can speed up the process of getting your passport too.
What are the different ways to get a U.S. passport?
There are many, but here’s some of the most popular:
• Apply From Home: This is probably one of the easiest ways to get your passport because you don’t have to leave home at all! However, it does take time for processing and you must schedule an appointment.
• Travel to An Application Center: This is another popular way to get your passport because it doesn’t take a lot of time or effort and you can do it at your convenience. In fact, more than 450 sites are located throughout the country where you can travel and apply for your passport, including local post offices, public libraries and other government centers.
• Mail Your Forms: If you’d rather not leave home or make a trip to an application center, then consider mailing in your forms-it doesn’t take too long to process. However, because it does take time to arrive, this isn’t the best option when traveling abroad is a must within the next few days.
• Visit a Post Office: Although it’s usually not recommended for those who need their passports quickly (unless things are dire), you can apply at your local post office or pick up a form there if you need one in a hurry. If you opt for this method, then you must be sure to bring the necessary documentation to complete the application process!
• Visit a Passport Agency: This is one of the more popular methods for obtaining a passport quickly as it can often produce results within days. In fact, some agencies are open seven days a week for this very reason. The downside is that you must appear in person and there’s usually an appointment-plenty of people are turning to these services when they can’t wait any longer!
Remember, don’t just go with the first passport expediting service you find because some may not be reputable or they may not provide the results promised.
Here are some application options for you: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/how-apply.html
Steps to getting a U.S. passport
Once you’ve obtained your forms, the next step is to fill them out: You must include accurate information because if anything isn’t correct, then your document will need to be returned and this can take quite some time!
The steps you will need to take depend on the way you are applying. I applied for mine at a local post office. It was easy and the staff were very helpful both times I did it. I did it once for myself and then my wife and I went and got our kids’ ones as well.
In addition, once you arrive at the application center, you may be required to provide even more information so the best place to start is by reading through the form carefully to understand what is expected of you.
Once you have all your information collected and filled out, it’s time to apply: You’ll need an appointment because many agencies are extremely busy but if there’s a little time between your trip and the application process, then it may not be necessary.
The next step is taking your documents to the passport agency for processing-and usually you’ll need to take two photos with you as well. Once everything has been submitted and processed, you can expect to receive a notice in the mail within approximately 1 week.
When you receive your passport, you’ll want to make sure it isn’t damaged or that none of the information has been altered in any way. If anything looks suspicious, then don’t use it it may be best to contact the issuing agency and have a new one issued without delay.
That isn’t likely to happen at all, but just so you know.
Now, when getting your passport expedited is an absolute necessity, it’s always recommended to trust the process to a professional!
Providers of passport expediting services have many benefits, including:
• Fast processing times-often taking less than 24 hours for your documents to be ready
• Convenient scheduling options because most appointments can be scheduled online or over the phone. In addition, if you need your document fast and there’s no time for an appointment, then you may be able to take advantage of same-day or even next-day services.
• Friendly staff members who are trained to help answer any questions that might arise during your application process.
So how can you get a passport quickly if you don’t have time for one of the expedited services?
If you’re in a rush and your time is limited, then consider:
• Contacting the agency directly: Each state has its own set of agencies that issue passports. These are usually located at a local post office or within federal government buildings. You can reach them through the telephone or by visiting their website for more information regarding how to get a passport fast!
• Visiting an agency in person: Although this isn’t the most convenient option, it can work if you need to get your document one day prior to departure. Of course, not everyone has time to spend making an appointment and waiting for hours so if that’s the case, then you can try using one of the other methods.
• Calling the National Passport Information Center: Although this isn’t a service that provides passport expediting, they can provide you with information regarding all agencies in your state so it may be worth a shot. In fact, many people use this service to locate an agency near them and then go from there.
Applicants must decide for themselves which method of passport expediting they’ll use-and although making an appointment can delay the process, it may be worth it especially if you can’t take time off from work. Contacting the agency directly may not be as convenient but is often faster and always free so keep this option in mind when you’re in a rush!
Do passports expire?
Then when is the last day you can use your passport?
Passports have a specific expiration date-and unlike many forms of identification, the U.S. government does require renewal every 10 years (if you are/were at least 16 years old when you got it) although there are some exceptions.
Passports generally must be renewed every 10 years for people 16 and older. For children under the age of 16, passports will expire after 5 years or when the child reaches 18-whichever comes first.
This means that you can use your passport as long as it’s valid. In terms of when you should renew, it’s best to do so 3 – 6 months before it expires.
This will give you time for your new one to come so you aren’t stressed or panicked about having a valid one for your next trip.
TIP: Review the expiration date of your passport and the travel requirements of the country or countries you will be traveling to because certain countries have different entry requirements. Some require that your passport not expire up to 6 months after your entry to their country.
What will happen if your passport has expired and you’re not aware of it?
Traveling outside the U.S. with an expired passport is a serious offense and could result in you being detained for questioning by border patrol agents as well as facing fines or even jail time so if it’s been more than five years since your last renewal, then consider renewing immediately!
If you’re planning on traveling within the next few months, then you’ll want to make sure that your passport is valid. If not, consider taking care of it as soon as possible.
Where can a person with a US passport travel?
Almost anywhere! With a US passport, you can travel to most places around the world. There are a few exceptions to this, and you should consult your embassy before departure if you have any concerns.
Do I need a passport if I don’t travel?
Maybe. There are a few reasons why you might need a passport:
• If you’re a dual citizen and traveling to another country that requires proof of citizenship, then it’s best to carry one with you.
• In order to apply for entrance into some countries or visit US embassies and consulates, a valid passport is required.
• If you’re a citizen of the U.S., then you need to carry one while traveling outside of the territory.
Do all US citizens need a passport?
No. Not everyone is required to carry a passport while traveling outside the country, especially if they’re not visiting any countries that require proof of citizenship or have any business inside a U.S. embassy or consulate.
If you don’t fall under these categories, then it’s best to consider carrying one with you to avoid being detained at the border.
What can you do to make your passport last?
As long as it’s kept safe in a clean environment, then you shouldn’t have any problems with your passport lasting for up to 10 years after it is issued. In order to extend the life of your document, consider:
• Not getting water or other liquids on the pages.
• Keeping it in a dry, cool place so that the ink doesn’t fade or smear.
• Keeping important documents and other valuables out of sight to avoid damage or tampering (if you don’t have a locking passport pouch).
• Staying organized-always keep your passport with you even when traveling domestically or when you’re not going to be traveling abroad.
Should you renew or replace a passport that has been damaged?
If your passport has been damaged, then it’s best to replace it. Some people are under the common misconception that if they apply for a new passport, then the one issued prior will still have value. This is not the case and you’re better off renewing it if there’s any trouble with your old one or doubt in your mind.
As long as you’ve kept a copy of everything that was in your previous document (or have a digital image of everything) then you should be able to apply pretty quickly and easily.
How much does it cost to renew a US passport?
There are a couple of different fees associated with “getting your passport”. The price for each document has changed a little over time as the government works on updating them or changing the way they are issued. Currently, depending on what you need, the pricing is as follows:
Passport Book – $110
Passport Card – $30
Passport Book & Card – $140
What is a Passport Book?
A US passport is a travel document issued by the United States government, mostly for use by its citizens. This is typically what you think of when you hear the word “passport”. It’s a small booklet that contains your identification photo(s), personal information and more. Your unique identification number is printed inside as well as on the outside of the front cover.
What is a Passport Card?
A passport card may be used in lieu of a passport book if traveling between mainland United States and Canada or Mexico. The “card” refers to its size which measures 2 3/4 inches wide by 4 3/4 inches long. This is smaller than a traditional passport book because of the limitations of space on the cards.
To apply for one, you’ll need to visit an acceptance facility that can be found here: https://iafdb.travel.state.gov/.
You can apply for the card even if you already have or have had a passport book. This is because they are considered separate documents. You can also apply for either at the same time as your passport, so long as it’s in conjunction with your renewal.
Here are some additional tips and guidance about where and when and what to get https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/how-apply/where-to-apply.html
What are a Passport Book and Card combo?
A combination of your wanting both a passport book and a passport card. You might want this in case you’re going to a country that accepts both documents and will let you in with either of them (Canada, for example). Or perhaps you just want to have the added protection of having your information in two different formats.
What is a passport?
A passport is a document that certifies your identity, issued by the government of your country. It usually contains information such as your name and date of birth, but it may also include other personal data as well.
There you have it. Your most frequently asked questions about passports answered. At least those are the ones I get the most here.
Now it’s up to you to go get yours and make some travel plans! There are so many wonderful places to get out and see!
Get your passport, ask your boss for some time off of work and get out there!