Applying for a passport is an easy process, and to get started, a person needs only a few things: their driver’s license or other form of valid identification, around $180, and a bit of spare time. Passports are good for ten years at a time, and aside from potential visas, are the ticket to visiting other countries and seeing the world.
The first thing to do is to visit the nearest pharmacy, library, or post office and have your photograph taken. There are special size requirements relating to passport photos that must be met. However, these photos can be taken almost anywhere and only cost around $10 for a pack of four. Once you have your picture, bring it to the nearest passport application facility. In most cases, this would be the local post office or government annex.
Proof of Identity
Make sure you have proof of identity. If you’re a natural born citizen, this would be a driver’s license or birth certificate. For citizens born outside the US, naturalization certificates may be required, as well as proof of citizenship. To make sure you have everything you might need, it doesn’t hurt to bring a copy of your social security card and your birth certificate.
The officials at the post office or government annex will provide you with a form called the DS-11. Take your time filling it out and make sure the information is correct; filling the form out completely should take around half an hour or so. You will have to provide information about your permanent address, eye and hair color, height, and other relevant information.
When you’ve finished filling out the form, signal the officials. The first time you apply for a passport, you have to submit it in person. After that, however, all passport renewals can be done online or through the mail. When you submit the form, you will have to pay a fee. For a passport book, the cost is a $110 application fee plus a $25 execution fee. For the passport card, the cost is a $30 application fee plus a $25 execution fee. Both can be obtained at the same time for a fee of $140 plus $25 execution fee. For passport applicants under the age of 16, the fee is reduced.
If you plan to travel, make sure you apply for your passport months in advance. It can sometimes take up to two or three months for the governmental agency to process your application, although it is possible for you to pay a $60 fee and receive expedited service. This cuts the time down to about three weeks. Other than this expedition fee, there is no way to speed up the process. However, make sure that all information on your application is correct, as corrections to a passport result in additional time and cost.
As for paying the various fees, all major forms of credit cards are accepted, as well as checks, money orders, and cash in exact change.