How To Get A Passport – To travel abroad? Before you pack your bags and leave, you need to get a passport. But getting a passport, whether you’re applying for your first one or renewing your dog-eared, stamp-filled travel companion, can be a complicated process.
“A lot of people tend to put it off,” says Zach Honig, editor-in-chief of travel advice website The Points Guy. However, Honig adds, “it’s definitely worth the effort.”
How To Get A Passport
So how do you get a passport? Can you do it online or do you have to visit a passport agency? What does the passport application contain? How and when do you renew your passport? And can you keep your old passport if you get a new one? We break it down step by step and situation by situation.
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But the first step is universal for almost everyone. First, you need to find an official passport acceptance facility (usually a post office, public library, or local government office that processes passport applications on behalf of the State Department) to begin the process. And to make the process go as smoothly as possible, you’ll need a pretty substantial list of documents filled out and ready to go.
According to the State Department, here’s what you need to officially apply for your first passport:
This can seem like a lot of paperwork, so “double and triple check that you have all the necessary documentation and, if you can, make an appointment in advance,” suggests Lonely Planet destination editor Sarah Stocking.
How long does it take to get a passport? The State Department estimates that it takes four to six weeks from the time you submit your application to process your passport (including how much it costs to send it back), so allow plenty of time, especially in the spring when many people are preparing to get busy. summer travel season.
How Long Does It Take To Get A Passport
If the thought of boarding an international flight with a passport that’s about to expire worries you, allow enough time to renew (the government recommends renewing your passport nine months before it expires). Unlike the process of obtaining your first passport, you do not need to go to an official institution in person. Instead, you can simply send all your documents to renew your passport. This means that if you have an old passport, it is in good condition beyond normal wear and tear, is over 16 years old and was issued within the last 15 years, and your name has not changed. If you can verify all of them, you should attach the following to your letter to renew your passport:
If you have changed your name since you got your last passport, you can attach official proof of the name change, such as a marriage certificate, divorce certificate or a court-ordered name change document.
How long does it take to renew a passport? After submitting all of the above, it usually takes the same amount of time to receive your new passport as it did for your first passport – four to six weeks – from application to mailing. World travelers with multiple passport stamps who want to stick a memento on their old passports should be aware that old passports come back (usually with a hole in the cover), although MaSovaida Morgan, Lonely Planet’s South America editor, recommends putting a sticker on it. slap. a note on the cover that you definitely want to return your old copy, just for good measure.
If you don’t have your old passport, you should treat your passport renewal as you would your first passport application: fill out a DS-11 form and go in person to a passport acceptance facility.
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Think you’re in the know about renewing your passport? Double check, as “you may not necessarily be able to travel until your passport expires,” explains Trisha Ping, Lonely Planet’s East America editor. In fact, “many countries will not allow entry if your passport has an expiration date within three or even six months of departure.”
Japan, for example, “requires that your passport be valid for the duration of your visit,” adds Honig of The Points Guy. It’s possible that an airline will allow you to book, check in and fly to your destination with an outdated passport, so it’s really your responsibility to keep your date up to date. “A foreign country will not hesitate to fly him back [home], possibly at his own expense.”
It’s also worth noting that even if your passport is valid, you may need to obtain a visa to enter your destination country. “A visa is a different animal,” says Honig, but fortunately, “visas are valid even if they’re in an expired passport.” So if you have an expired passport with a current visa, it is best to carry your old passport with the renewed one.
Bottom line: Leave plenty of time to renew your passport, check your passport’s expiration date even if you think you’re ready to go, and find out about the passport and visa requirements for the country you’re visiting.
What Is A Us Passport Card, And How Can You Get One?
If you find yourself with a passport that has expired or is about to expire weeks (or even days) before your trip, take a deep breath because all is not lost. There are several ways to get an expedited passport, although it is definitely a more expensive and time-consuming process.
How long does it take to get an expedited passport? Well, that depends on how much of a crisis you really are. Here are some different scenarios and what to do in each case:
If you’ve gotten married, divorced, or simply changed your name and want to make it official on your passport, there are several ways to change your name on your passport. The simplest is an official or certified copy of the marriage certificate or court order (photocopy or notarized copy cannot be sent).
If your passport was issued less than a year ago, there is no fee to change the name on the passport. Just send the DS-5504 form, an original, authentic name change document, an old passport and a color passport photo (with the requirements listed above).
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If it’s been more than a year, you basically have to go through the renewal process and include it in your name change paperwork. However, if you are not eligible for renewal (you do not have an old passport, it is worn beyond normal travel wear, or it was issued under the age of 16 or more than 15 years ago), then complete the first passport application and attach the name change documentation.
Honig, according to The Points Guy, if your passport is lost or stolen abroad. Before you go on your trip, make a note of the nearest embassy or consulate to where you are staying – this is where you will go if you lose your passport during your trip. If you happen to lose your passport and find yourself at a US embassy without it, says Evan Godt, managing editor of Lonely Planet, remember that “the embassy staff are very polite and friendly; they’re trying to help you get home!”
Many professional travelers keep a photocopy of their passport in case of an emergency, and Lonely Planet editor Trisha Ping recommends keeping your scanned passport online in the cloud, both of which make it easier to retrieve an urgent replacement passport on the website. the consulate. Of course, the easiest way to keep your passport safe is to protect it while you travel.
Honig recommends picking a spot, like a small backpack pocket, and making it your passport’s permanent home while you’re traveling so you always know where it is. However, once you reach your destination, it is often safer to store your passport at the hotel and walk around with a photocopy.
How To Get A U.s. Passport In 2 Weeks Or Less
Passport cards are wallet-sized identifiers that allow entry into the United States through land or sea borders (think Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda). The difference between an ordinary passport and a passport card is that a passport card cannot be used for international air travel. However, the advantages of getting a passport card are that it’s cheaper ($30 to $55, depending on whether you’re applying for the first time or renewing your passport card) and is easier to carry, although most travel experts recommend just carrying your regular passport go. passport.
So if you’re going on a round-trip cruise, getting a passport card might work, but “you never know when your plans might change and you have to fly,” says Godt.
Getting a passport card is also not an advantage; processing is the same as a normal passport. If you want to apply for both, you can apply for both a passport and a passport card on one application form. “I don’t see any reason to get [a passport card] instead of a passport,” Honig says, but getting both can provide additional proof of your U.S. citizenship and identity.
Don’t keep yourself waiting for your passport