U.s. Passports - Be Prepared To Travel
If you need a U.S. passport, remember that you are dealing with government bureaucracy and like anything else in the government there are special provisions to follow. Knowing what you need and having all your required information before beginning the process can help make it a simple, painless process.
Making sure you need a passport
All U.S. citizens traveling outside the United States will need a passport regardless of age. Travel within the United States includes direct travel within the 50 states, including Hawaii, Alaska, and District of Columbia as well as the U.S. Territories of Puerto Rico, Guam, U.S. Virgin Islands, Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, and Swains Island.
However, be aware if you will be passing through another country, such as Japan to reach Guam, you are required to have a U.S. Passport for travel.
Plan Ahead for Getting a Passport
Apply for a passport at least six weeks before your intended trip. Routine processing currently takes 4-6 weeks and expedited processing takes on average 2-3 weeks with an additional fee required.
If travel is required sooner, you can apply at any of the 20 or so regional passport agencies in major U.S. cities or apply the help of a qualified expediting service. If all your paperwork is in order an expeditor can have your new passport to you within 24-48 hours; however, be prepared to pay for it!
Applying for your first passport
You must apply in person for your first U.S. Passport. This is where those special provisions and exceptions come into action. The best source of advice is to contact your State Dept. for any special circumstances.
Generally, for a first time passport you will need:
Proof of Citizenship - These include a certified birth certificate, naturalization certificate or certificate of citizenship.
U.S. Passport Application - Form D-11 This needs to be filled out but do not sign. This form must be signed in the presence of a Passport Agent.
U.S. Passport Photograph - Two identical passport quality photographs.
Proof of Identification - A valid driver's license, naturalization certificate, military ID, or current government ID.
Traveling to a foreign country whether for business or pleasure can be an exciting time, be sure there is no delay with any complications when applying for a U.S. passport. Early preparation may not shorten the paperwork or time needed, but it will ensure you are one step closer to being ready for travel.
by: Joshua Watson