Any citizen of the United States interested in travelling internationally should apply for and obtain a passport by visiting one of the United states passport locationswhere you can get one. Even though passports weren’t required for travel to some countries a few years ago, even crossing the Canadian border now requires a validpassport on order to enter either the U.S. or Canada. If you’ve never had to get apassport before and feel a little intimidated by the idea, don’t worry. Here’s how to get a passport and some passport locations you can go to apply.
Do I Need a US Passport?
Knowing whether or not you need to apply for and obtain a U.S. passport before you travel is a good idea. Some people think that you need a passport if you are travelling to a U.S. territory such as Puerto Rico or Guam. This isn’t actually true. You only need a passportif, while travelling to the U.S. territory or state, you actually have to stop and land in a foreign country. For example, if you are flying to Alaska and have a layover in Vancouver, Canada, you’ll need to apply for and get a U.S. passport. This may seem like a hassle, but even countries like Mexico require that you have a passport to enter now.
Getting the Application
Go online to the State Department’s website and download a copy of the passport application forms. If you can’t download and print a passport application, you can always pick up a copy from your local passport office.
How Do I Find My Local Passport office?
Finding the nearest passport office locations near you is actually very simple. All you have to do is use a simple tool on the State Department’s website. You can access the special search by visiting Passport Locations and then searching by yourstate or your city. You can choose to find the passport location nearest to your location, or you can have all of the passport locations within a certain radius listed.
There are basically two types of passport facilities. The first is a regional passportagency. Regional passport agencies serve major metropolitan areas and large population centers. They have these agency locations in New York, Los Angeles,Seattle, San Francisco, Honolulu, Houston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Miami, Washington D.C., Boston and New Orleans. These centers serve a very large region of the populace, but they are very busy. You’ll need to schedule an appointment to visit these offices. If you are in a rush and need to get yourpassport as soon as possible or need to get a visa very quickly, you should go to regional passport agency.
The other type of passport facility is an acceptance facility. These are much more common across the United states. You probably have a few of these locations in your home town or city. Accepting facilities include post offices, public libraries,courthouses, and state, municipal and county government offices. If you have to apply for a passport in person due to any reason, you can do so at one of theselocations or offices. Use the State Department’s passport location tool to find out which office is closest to you.
When in doubt, you can generally just visit your local post office or county clerk’soffice to inquire about how for a passport. The customer service there is usually very knowledgeable about the subject and will be able to walk you through the entire process step by step. You can also visit the State Department’s website to learn more about passport applications, restrictions, what countries or places you need a passport to visit and more. It’s a great resource to get you started and answer those tough questions. Just make sure to visit during passport processing hours which are sometimes different than normal business hours.
How to Apply for a Passport
The first step in applying for a passport is to know when to do it. It’s important to begin the passport application process at least eight weeks before you travel abroad. Even though it usually doesn’t take that long to get a passport, you usually need a passport number to obtain an international plane ticket. You also want to make sure you have enough time to fix any problems that may arise in the passport application process. It’s always better to have too much time to get a passportbefore a trip than to have too little time.
There are also some other requirements to get a passport depending on your age. All adults and children, even including newborns and infants, must have their own individual passports when travelling abroad. Even though a passport is not required to travel directly to a state or U.S. territory, if you plan on travelling outside of the U.S. at any time, even for a layover, you’ll need a passport.
While you can sometimes apply for a passport online or through the mail, you need to apply for a passport in person at a passport location if any of the following situations apply to you:
- You are applying for a U.S. passport for the first time
- You are under 16 years old
- Your previous U.S. passport was lost, stolen or damaged
- Your previous U.S. passport was more than 15 years old
- Your previous U.S. passport was issued to you before you were 16 years old
- You legally changed you name after your U.S. passport was issued and you don’t have legal documentation for that name change
If you need to apply in person, it’s not a big deal. You just have to visit one of your local passport acceptance locations during passport processing hours such as a U.S. Post Office or the county clerk’s office.
You also need to obtain the following in order to apply for a U.S. passport:
- Two identical copies of your passport photo (easily obtained at photography shops and photo studios)
- Identification information which includes your certified birth certificate and your social security card. Check the passport application to see what exactly you need to provide.
Once you’ve got the passport application filled out, you’ll need to bring it and all necessary identification and passport photos with you to one of the passport centers.
Getting a passport is a little bit of work, but it’s not very hard. Anyone can do it if they follow the steps and take the time. Please check the State Department website today to find passport locations near you.
Passport Offices Outside of the United States