As I casually talked to people about my travels, I have come to learn that a large majority of the people I knew did not have a passport book. At first I thought, maybe it is just the people that I am talking too, I found out that was not the case. So I did a little research so I could understand this issue fully. What I discovered was that only 46% of the American population has a passport book. The percentage is a little higher when you include the less expensive “passport card”. The passport card is a start and I applaud anyone that has taken that step. But the passport card has its limits; you cannot travel to let us say Europe or Japan, you can only travel by sea or fly to countries that you could almost walk to. Meaning they have to be connected to the United States. There are a few Caribbean countries you can visit with the passport card, but why be limited? These amazing places like France, Italy or Dubai are only a dream without a passport book.

The time is now for the dream of traveling to a faraway exotic place to take shape. I am going to give you some information that will get you on your way to applying for and getting your passport book, after that it is up up up and away!

So this is how you apply for a New Passport

First Time Applicants

You Must Apply in Person If:

You are applying for your first U.S. passport; or if you are under age 16

Estimated Cost

To calculate the total cost of your new passport book you must select the method of processing you would like to use. I know that no one wants to hear this but the application cost is non-refundable and is retained by the Department of State whether or not the passport is issued. There are a few concerns that will get you denied; one is, if you are behind in child support payments.

  • Passport Book (Valid for all international travel) is $110

Why not get a Passport?

Processing Method

  • Standard Processing; No additional Fees Processed in 4-6 weeks
  • Expedited Processing; $60 Processed in 2-3 weeks door-to-door

I do not recommend the Expedited processing, save your money. The $60 you save will buy a lot of Rum punches in Jamaica. The standard processing will be fine and USPS Priority Mail will deliver it for all new passport book; and First Class Mail will return your documents you sent in.

Execution Fee

  • Acceptance Facility fee is $25.00.

The Acceptance Facility will most likely be your local Post Office. But not all Post Offices process passports so check them out before you make the drive. You can log on U.S. Department of State to get a list of post offices near you.

Collect Documents

When you apply, you must present an original document as evidence of U.S. citizenship (which will be returned to you after your application is processed), photo identification, and a photocopy of that identification. The Acceptance Facility or Passport Agency where you apply may be able to make the photocopy for you. If not, your local pharmacy store usually has the capabilities to take passport photos.

Why not get a Passport?

The application Information is very standard material and will not be very hard to acquire. Trust me this is painless.

Evidence of U.S. Citizenship; you must submit one of the following original documents as primary evidence of U.S. citizenship (photocopies are not acceptable):

  • Certified U.S. Birth Certificate (must meet all of the following requirements):
  • Issued by City, County, or State of birth
  • Lists bearer’s full name, date of birth, and place of birth
  • Lists parent(s) full names
  • Has date filed with registrar’s office (must be within one year of birth)
  • Has registrar’s signature
  • Has embossed, impressed, or multicolored seal of registrar
  • Consular Report of Birth Abroad
  • Certificate of Naturalization/Citizenship

Now you could have been born in the United States and cannot obtain a certified birth certificate that meets all the requirements listed above, you will need to submit a combination of documents as secondary evidence of U.S. citizenship, such as:

  • Delayed birth certificate (filed after one year of birth)
  • Hospital records
  • Religious records (certificate of baptism, communion, blessing, family bible, etc.)
  • Early school records

If you were born outside the United States and have U.S. citizenship by birth to one or more U.S. citizen parents, or derive U.S. citizenship through the naturalization of parents, and do not have a Certificate of Citizenship, you will have to contact the U.S. Department of State directly.

Why not get a Passport?

Photo Identification

When you submit your application, you must present one of the following primary photo identification documents, and submit a photocopy of that document:

  • Valid Driver’s License (plus a second ID if issued in a different state than where you apply)
  • Certificate of Naturalization
  • Valid government ID (city, state, or federal)
  • Valid Military ID

If you do not have any of the above documents, you will need to submit a combination of secondary identification documents with a photo and signature, such as:

  • Expired Driver’s License
  • State-issued ID Card
  • Student ID Card
  • Employment ID Card

If your name or gender is different on your evidence of citizenship and/or ID, you may need to submit additional documentation and can get help with this by contacting the U.S. Department of State.

Why not get a Passport?

Take a Photo

Your Photograph Must Be:

  • In color
  • 2 x 2 inches in size
  • Printed on thin, photo-quality paper
  • Taken within the past 6 months, showing current appearance
  • Full face, front view with a plain white or off-white background
  • Between 1 inch and 1 3/8 inches from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head
  • Taken in normal street attire: Uniforms should not be worn in photographs except religious attire that is worn daily

Some Do’s and Do Not’s

  • Do not wear a hat or headgear that obscures the hair or hair line
  • If you normally wear prescription glasses, a hearing device, wig or similar articles, they should be worn for your picture
  • Dark glasses or nonprescription glasses with tinted lenses are not acceptable unless you need them for medical reasons (a medical certificate may be required)
  • A statement should accompany any articles worn for religious or medical reasons to that effect.

All of the outlined documents and photos are then submitted in person at your nearest Acceptance Facility.

Your passport application will not be processed until you follow the steps above and it is submitted in person at your nearest Acceptance Facility.

Do not sign the form until instructed to do so.

Norman L Payne/Up up up and Away!