When you’re ready to travel out of the United States, before you book your ticket or start dreaming up the perfect international Instagram photo destinations, there’s one major thing you need to do first:
Apply for a passport.
Even if you don’t have a trip in mind now, it’s still a smart idea to have another form of identification that a passport offers. If you do have a trip planned, you should make sure you apply for your passport at least two months before your planned travel date.
You should also ensure that your current passport, if you have one, doesn’t expire within 6 months of you leaving the country.
With that being said, read on for your quick guide to the easiest way to get a passport.
First of all, let’s cover some of the basics regarding passports.
You’re eligible for a standard American passport if you’re a United States citizen, and you’ll be expected to provide proof of that citizenship.
Usually, this means you’ll need to submit a certified birth certificate — not a copy — a published birth announcement, a hospital birth record, or even insurance files to prove that you are who you say you are.
Remember that your social security card doesn’t count as evidence of your citizenship.
You can choose to get a passport book with 28 or 52 pages, and you can also apply for a passport card. Note that the passport card can only be used to travel within the United States, Canada, Bermuda, Mexico, and the Carribean.
Usually, your passport can be processed in 6-8 weeks, but expedited services can make it happen in 2-3 weeks or even in 8 business days. Your passport will be valid for ten years from the issue date.
Get a Picture Taken
The first step on our list of the easiest way to get a passport is to get a passport photo taken.
Finding a place to get your photo taken is incredibly easy. You can get a UPS store passport photo, head to a local pharmacy, a copy center, and even specialized photo businesses.
Visit this page on uspassporthelpguide.com to learn about other places where you can have your photo taken.
You will need to show the tops of your ears, so longer hair may need to be worn pulled back. The photo must have a white background, printed in color on matte paper, less than six months old, and 2 inches by 2 inches in size.
You shouldn’t wear any kind of hats or nonprescription glasses, and you should not smile in the photo.
We strongly suggest that you get multiple copies of the same photo. Usually, the whole process takes just a few minutes and will cost you less than $20.00.
Collect and Complete the Right Documents
Once you have your photo taken, you need to start collecting all the documents and proof of identification you’ll need to get your passport.
As stated earlier, you’ll need either your American birth certificate or a naturalization certificate if you were born outside of the United States.
You’ll also need to bring in more proof of your identity.
Usually, this means an old passport, a valid and current driver’s license, a State ID card, and even a student ID for good measure. You should absolutely bring in more than one proof of identity.
You’ll also need to have at least two of your passport photos on hand (and they must be identical.)
Of course, you should also be expected to shell out a bit of cash.
In general, the application fee for Americans over the age of 16 is $55, with a security surcharge fee of $12 and an execution fee of $30. This means that for most people, the passport will cost you $97 in total.
The DS-11 Form
Before you head to the passport acceptance facility in your area, the most important thing you’ll need to complete is the DS-11 passport form.
If you’re applying for your passport for the first time, you’ll fill out the DS-11 form. Those renewing their passports will only need to fill out the DS-82 form.
If you’re applying for the first time or if your passport has been stolen or lost, you will need to apply for the passport in person at a passport agency.
The good news is that the DS-11 form is pretty self-explanatory. You’ll need to fill out your first and last hame, your date of birth, your place of birth, your sex, and your social security number.
You’ll also need to provide your mailing address, an email address, a phone number, and any other names/aliases you have used in the past. (For example, a legal name change or a maiden name.)
You’ll also need to provide an emergency contact and paternal information, as well as information about your marital status. This includes marriages that you’ve ended.
You’ve Mastered the Easiest Way to Get a Passport
We hope this post has offered you a bit of relief when it comes to understanding the easiest way to get a passport.
As you can see, while the process itself isn’t terribly difficult, it is time-consuming and requires all the right paperwork. Just make sure you have all the right documents, know your paternal/emergency contact/spousal information beforehand, and that you give yourself plenty of time.
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