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Passports

World travelers need to know how to get a passport quickly and efficiently in order to avoid any delays. How to renew a passport is also an important procedure to learn. As an official and government-issued document, a passport can be used to prove your identity and your United States citizenship, and it is required in many cases when traveling abroad. Submitting a passport application form is the first important step to obtaining a passport, and you can find all of the important details on this process in the sections below. You can also learn why a passport office is important, and how to find the closest one to you. Passport renewal is an important part of keeping your document up to date, so our site also covers the easy steps required for a quick renewal. Knowing these passport application procedures is vital to ensuring a successful transaction, whether you want an expedited passport for an upcoming trip or an updated document for your future travels. While understanding the passport application form is an important part of the process, learning the eligibility criteria for obtaining a passport in the United States is just as vital. As such, qualifications and passport costs are also covered on our site so you can learn these details. For more information on passports, from lost passport renewal procedures to who is eligible to obtain these travel documents, review the details provided below:

  • Reasons to get a passport
  • Passport cost and qualifications
  • Where to get a passport
  • Passport application and renewal procedures
  • Terms and validity when you get a passport
  • Replacing a stolen or lost passport

Reasons to Get a Passport

Travelers must get a passport in order to travel to most locations overseas. Additionally, these travel documents can also be useful as a form of identification in the United States, as they feature the following:

  • A passport photo
  • The holder's birth date
  • The holder's authentic signature
  • A passport number
  • The holder's full legal name

When you are visiting a foreign nation, your passport is an important document to possess because it is an international way for authorities and citizens to identify you. There are many foreign countries that will refuse to accept your United States identification card as proper identification. However, a passport will be accepted, and should be carried on you at all times while traveling internationally. When you attempt to travel abroad, a passport will be requested when you arrive at your destination and when you attempt to leave it.

Another important reason to get a U.S. passport is for exchanging money and withdrawing funds overseas. Passports are required for all monetary transactions that take place in a foreign country. Furthermore, given the information present on a passport, the document can also be used to:

  • Open a new bank account.
  • Apply for the Global Entry program.
  • Prove you can legally work in the United States.

Passport Cost and Qualifications

In order to get a U.S. passport, traveling applicants must be citizens of the United States. Parental consent and proof of relationship from both parents are required for minors under the age of 16 to apply for a passport. An applicant may be ineligible to get a passport if he or she is:

  • Found mentally incompetent by a court of law.
  • Convicted of a felony in a foreign country, where extradition was requested.
  • Identified as a national security threat.
  • Found to owe child support totaling $2,500 or more.
  • Convicted of a drug charge (felony or misdemeanor), which included the illegal use of a passport.
  • Currently charged with a crime with court orders to stay in the country.

Passport costs are an important part of the application and renewal processes, and price varies based on the applicant's age. A first-time applicant who is an adult will pay $110 for the passport, plus a $25 execution fee. Passport renewals for adults do not include an execution fee. You will also have the option of receiving a passport card for an added cost. This card allows access to the United States from Bermuda, the Caribbean, Canada and Mexico. However, international travel by plane requires a passport booklet, not a card.

Where to Get a Passport

A passport application form must be submitted by all first-time applicants. For citizens who were younger than 16 when their first passport was applied for, an in-person visit must be scheduled to apply for an adult passport. In addition, in-person passport applications are also required for passport holders who misplaced their original travel documents or who have not obtained a new passport in over 15 years. Many local post offices or court clerk offices are also passport acceptance facilities, for reference. Meanwhile, if you need to renew a passport, you can typically send in a passport application form by mail. Certain passport changes and corrections can also be submitted by mail, in most instances.

If you need to get a passport quickly, as you have an international trip planned within the next two weeks, apply in person to get your passport as soon as possible. You can make an appointment with a Department of State passport agency to show proof that you have a trip fast approaching, and after paying an additional fee, you can expedite the process.

Passport Application and Renewal Procedures

To get a U.S. passport easily and efficiently, an applicant must complete certain steps in a timely manner. He or she needs to:

  • Present a passport photo.
  • Submit a completed passport application form.
  • Show copies of identification documents.
  • Provide payment for the passport fee.

Furthermore, passport pictures have their own requirements. They must be 2x2 inches, have a completely white background, offer a view of the entire face, present a neutral facial expression or simple smile, and they cannot have been taken more than six months ago.

Regarding passport renewal, you can renew your passport by mail if it is currently valid, if it was issued within the last 15 years, and if you were older than 16 years of age upon its issuance. Passport holders should consider renewing their passport long before the expiration date. Some countries will consider a passport invalid if there are only six months left before expiration. Additionally, passport renewal is needed for name changes as well and can be requested by mail, as long as the legal document that certifies this name change is also sent.

Renewing Your Passport by Mail

A passport renewal application form, a passport photo, payment for applicable fees and your current passport (which will be returned to you) will need to be mailed in for a successful renewal. Furthermore, if you are requesting a passport name change through the renewal application, you will also need to send in your marriage certificate or a court order that certifies the name change.

Regarding payment, a personal check or money order is acceptable to cover the passport fees required. Also, to ensure these documents do not get lost in the mail, you may purchase a tracking or confirmation number.

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Terms and Validity When You Get a Passport

If you need to renew passport documentation, keep in mind that it can take up to six weeks for processing to be completed. The same timeframe is in place for first-time passport applicants. A service to expedite passport applications is available, which can reduce the timeframe to about eight business days. However, this service costs an extra $60, and you must be able to prove that you have an upcoming international trip within the next two weeks. Expedited passports are processed by the Department of State's passport agency. Once your passport application and payment are received, you should get your passport within eight business days.

Passport renewal should be applied for with plenty of time to spare. An adult passport is valid for 10 years from the date of issuance. Meanwhile, passports presented to minors (citizens 16 years old or younger) are valid for five years from the date of issuance. The passport booklet itself will reflect the expiration date on the inside cover.

Replacing a Stolen or Lost Passport

Lost passports are dangerous for citizens because they can lead to identity fraud. If you have lost a passport or had your passport stolen, you need to report this immediately to prevent someone from stealing your identity. Once reported, a stolen or lost passport will be invalidated so that it cannot be used for such purposes.

A passport application for a new travel document must be filled out if an original document is ever stolen. Along with the passport application form, you will also need to send a statement explaining that your original document was stolen, and by doing so, you may be able to obtain an emergency/limited validity passport.