FAQ: How Do I Get A Passport?

Oct 13, 2016

The amount of Americans with passports is at an all-time high, yet less than 50 percent of Americans have a passport (a mere 38 percent). Passports are a must for international travel. If you are planning your first trip abroad, a passport should be the first thing on your list. A US passport costs $135 for anyone eligible, and opens endless doors in terms of visa opportunities and travel (now we call that an investment!). For those of you who already have passports, most countries require six months validity on the passport for entry – so pay attention to your passport’s expiration date when you start planning your trip! Here’s how to get started!

Standard Passport Procedure

The standard passport application procedure can be done in person or by mail, depending on your eligibility. Unfortunately, at this time there is no online application for passports, but maybe one day! There are many passport acceptance areas where you can apply (but you must do it in your state of residency), to find one near you visit the state website.

Eligibility

You must apply in person if:

  • You are a first time applicant
  •  You are applying for a child under 16
  •  You are applying for a youth 16-17

If you have any questions about application eligibility you can check the State Department website.

Submission Materials

You must submit several forms of identification, a photo, and the application form. Sounds easy enough (and it is), but there are some specifications to each of these items. You must submit one of the following original documents as evidence of US citizenship:

  • Certified US birth certificate
  • Previous US passport
  • Consular report of birth abroad
  • Certificate of Naturalization/Citizenship

You must also submit a valid photo id, AND a copy of the same id:

  • Valid driver’s license
  • Undamaged US passport
  • Certificate of naturalization
  • Valid government ID
  • Valid military ID

A Photo:

  • Color
  • 2 by 2 inches in size
  • Printed on photo-quality paper
  • Taken in the past 6 months, showing current appearance
  • Full face, front view with plain white background
  • Taken in normal street attire (the picture is very particular, but they can be taken at some drugstores, Costco, or a professional photographer)

You must also submit Form DS-11. This can be downloaded online at www.travel.state.gov, but still must be submitted in person or by mail.  

Processing Time

Now that you have submitted your application, you can sit back and relax! Hopefully you allowed ample time between your passport application and your trip, or else you will be sweating instead of relaxing. Processing times for passports is about 4-6 weeks for routine processing, 3 weeks for expedites and 8 business days for expedited processing done through at an agency. These times aren’t set in stone, and it can take longer or faster. September – December is a “slow season” for US passport applications, so federal officials are encouraging people to apply for passports inthe fall. We wish you and your passport a long and happy life together, happy trails!

If you have any questions about travel, Italy or guided tours, please email them to [email protected] !