obtaining a passport

Obtaining a Passport: What You Need to Know

Are you getting ready to go on a trip outside the country or perhaps embark on a cruise? While you have plenty of things to plan for and worry about, some of your biggest concerns may be with your passport. While obtaining a passport isn’t really all that difficult, there are steps and documents you’ll need to help you breeze through the application process. The following passport basics can help you better understand the steps to take.

When is a Passport Necessary?

Anytime you are traveling outside the United States, even to Canada or Mexico, you will need a passport. Adults and children, even those under the age of 10 will all need a passport for international travel. One exception to this is with certain cruises that only dock in a foreign port for a few hours. You MAY not need a passport in these cases; however, it can make the embarking and debarking process easier if you have one to present. If you think this may be the case for you, talk with someone at the cruise line to find out a definitive answer.

Where Do You Get a Passport?

If you are renewing an old passport, the process may be a bit simpler. However, if it is your first time going through the process you will need to visit an official office or work with a preapproved passport issuance company. The U.S. Department of State is the government agency in charge of issuing passports. You can use the search engine provided by this organization to find the passport office locations that are closest to you. VitalChek also provides additional information on passports on the Official Travel Documents website.

What Documents Are Required?

Before you get started, it is important to gather the necessary documents for your passport. For a first time passport, you will need proof of citizenship, an official photo ID for proof of your identity, and a proper passport photo—plus the necessary application that you will fill out. Proof of citizenship is normally in the form of a birth certificate; however, there are certain times when this is not the case. If you do use a birth certificate, make sure it is an official, government issued certificate.

How Long Does it Take to Obtain a Passport?

There is no official standard for how long it will take to receive your passport after you complete the application process. However, if you are in a hurry you can request expedited service through the U.S. Department of State for an added fee. You may also find that many commercial passport issuance firms offer expedited service for an additional charge. The most important thing to do is to start early and make sure you have all the documents and information you need. That way, if there happens to be a delay or snag, you have time to resolve it and you not run into a problem that could delay your travels.

The passport process is not that complicated once you understand what steps you need to take. After you clarify exactly what is required to acquire your passport, you can get started with the process and turn your plans and worries to other matters—like what you’re going to wear!

Ready for your trip abroad? Remember your travel documents! Start by obtaining a certified copy of your birth certificate. Click here for more information.

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