You’ve taken the plunge and decided to broaden your horizons and take your travels internationally! If you’re wondering what the next step is, you’re in the right place. Obtaining a passport is vital to being able to leave the country. While the process is a long one, it is not a difficult one. Here’s what you need to do according to the U.S. Department of State:
- Gather your documents. You will need:
- Proof of U.S. Citizenship– This can be your birth certificate, Consular Report of Birth Abroad, certificate of naturalization, or certificate of citizenship. You must produce either the original document or a certified copy.
- Photocopy of proof of U.S. citizenship– This is the same as the proof that you have chosen from the list above, but it is a photocopy for officials to keep.
- Valid ID- This can be your drivers license, U.S. military ID or dependent ID, government employee ID, or your certificate of naturalization or citizenship.
- Photocopy of ID- This is the same as the ID that you have chosen to present, but it is a photocopy for officials to keep. Keep in mind that the copy of your ID must be on white, 8 1/2 x 11″ typing paper; you need to make a copy of BOTH SIDES of the ID, but the photocopy itself cannot be double sided. Also, you can enlarge the size of the ID, but you may not decrease the size.
- Find a passport acceptance facility. Most times this is a major post office, public library, court clerk’s office, or municipal government office. The Department of State offers a database for you to find a facility nearest you here: https://iafdb.travel.state.gov.
- Get a passport photo. If the passport acceptance facility that you choose is a post office, you can get your passport-regulation picture there. If not, your photo must fit the following requirements:
- Your head must face the camera directly with full face in view.
- You must have a neutral facial expression or a natural smile, with both eyes open.
- Taken in clothing normally worn on a daily basis
- Taken in the last 6 months
- Use a plain white or off-white background
- Be sized correctly
- 2 x 2 inches (51 x 51 mm)
- Head must be between 1 -1 3/8 inches (25 – 35 mm) from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head
- Printed on matte or glossy photo quality paper
- Printed in color
- You cannot wear glasses.
- If you cannot remove your glasses for medical reasons, please include a signed note from your doctor with application.
- You cannot wear a hat or head covering.
- If you wear a hat or head covering for religious purposes, submit a signed statement that verifies that the hat or head covering in your photo is part of recognized, traditional religious attire that is customarily or required to be worn continuously in public.
- If you wear a hat or head covering for medical purposes, submit a signed doctor’s statement verifying the hat or head covering in your photo is used daily for medical purposes.
- Your full face must be visible and your hat or head covering cannot obscure your hairline or cast shadows on your face.
- You cannot wear headphones or wireless hands-free devices.
- Fill out a DS-11 form. Print and fill out this form to take to your chosen passport acceptance facility. Be sure not to sign the form until you get to the facility. https://eforms.state.gov/Forms/ds11.pdf
- Prepare for payment. For adults, the cost is $135. For children under 16, the cost is $105.
Once you get all of the necessary documents and forms filled, take everything required to your chosen location and apply for your passport. You should expect to receive your passport by mail in 6-8 weeks, so getting a head start on the process is vital. If you need your passport sooner than 6-8 weeks, check the http://www.travel.gov website for assistance.
So, once you’ve applied, sit back and plan your fun trip, then bon voyage!