If you don’t already have a passport, this is one of the first things that you need to take care of. The process can take a while, so don’t put it off – procrastination will be expensive.
Passports are valid for ten years – if you are over 16 years old. If you already have one, you’ve got one less thing to do. If not…
Say Cheese and Sign on the Dotted Line
Go to your main post office, county library, municipal office or courthouse and get the passport application. Or easily download it from the links provided below.
Passport fees are nonrefundable and include the fee itself and a security charge.
First time applicants can find their passport application form (DS-11) here.
The cost is:
$97 – 16 years old and over
$82 – under 16
Expedited Service (ready in 2 weeks) – add $60
Renewal passports are $67. The passport renewal application form (DS-82) can be found here.
You are eligible for renewal if your previous passport…
- Was issued when you were 16 or older.
- Was issued in the last 15 years.
- Is not damaged.
- Is submitted with your application.
If time is an issue you have the option of choosing from several passport processing services, like the ones below, which will do all the work for you and offer you a passport in as little as 24 hours.
You’ll Need to Show…
- Proof of Citizenship – Either your old passport or a certified birth certificate.
- Proof of identification – Either your driver’s license or government issued picture I.D.
- And, two passport photos.
(These must have been taken within the last 6 months and can’t have been processed through a vending machine). Most postal “stores” like UPS or Postal Annex provide 2 – 4 passport photos for $15 – $20.
Take a Copy (or Two) of Your Birth Certificate on Your Trip.
If you are applying for a passport for the first time you’ll need to show a certified copy of your birth certificate.
If you are getting a passport renewal, or already have your passport, it’s still a good idea take a copy of your birth certificate when you travel internationally.
If you loose your passport, the hastles and time wasted getting a temporary/replacement passport from the American Embassy in country can be extrordinary. Having a copy of your birth certificate – as well as a color copy of the I.D. pages of your passport will speed things up considerably.
It costs between $10 and $20 in most states for a certified (embossed) copy of your birth certificate. You just need to bring a photocopy or two of your certified copy with you on your travels – along with several other important document copies which are discussed at length in “Final Preparation” page.
The National Center for Health Statistics has an easy-to-use site. Just click on your state and scroll down to the various options (on-line, fax, mail, in person) for obtaining your birth certificate.