How to obtain a passport
As of January 23, 2007, in accordance with new legislation, every citizen of the United States of America returning from a foreign country by air (Canada and Mexico included), will require a valid passport to re-enter the USA. At present sea and land travel are excluded, although similar restriction might be enacted in 2008 covering those as well. See the State Department's web site for details on the new rules. Here are a few tips on how to obtain a passport.
Every member of your family will need a passport when traveling by air outside of the country. It can take up to eight weeks to process the application so it is wise to apply at least this far in advance to ensure that your passport is ready when you need it. Expedited service can be requested for an extra $60.00 plus overnight delivery.
The first step to obtaining a passport is to get the application package (DS-11) and fill it out. These forms can be found at the US Department of State Website or from a passport acceptance agency. Renewals can often be completed by mail, however you will have to apply for your passport in person if you've never had a passport before or if your previous passport was lost or stolen. You will also be required to apply in person if you are a minor or your last passport was issued before you were sixteen years old. In addition, if your passport expired over fifteen years ago or your name has changed since your last passport was issued and you do not have a legal document formally changing your name, you will have to apply for your new passport in person. This can be done at a facility that is authorized to issue passports such as your local library, post office or courthouse.
The next step to take when considering how to obtain a passport is presenting proof of your US citizenship. You will need a certified birth certificate or a previous passport. If neither of these is available, a naturalization certificate or a certificate of citizenship will be acceptable. You will also need to present proof of your identity. Any of the above will do, as will a current valid driver's license, a government ID (city, state or federal) or a military ID. Occasionally, the required identification is unavailable. To learn how to obtain a passport without the proper information, visit the US Department of State website.
You will also need two passport photos. These need to be 2x2 inches in size and identical. The photographs need to be in color and to have been taken within the last six months. They must show your full face, via a frontal view and have a plain white or off-white background. They also need to be taken while you are wearing normal street attire, costumes or uniforms are unacceptable.
A fee is required to obtain a passport. For those who are age 16 or older the passport application fee is $67.00 and the execution fee is $30.00 for a total of $97.00. For those 16 and under the application fee is $52.00 and the execution fee is $30.00 for a total of $82.00. These fees can be paid by cash, credit card, debit/check cards, checks, money orders and bank drafts. Check with the location at which you are applying, as not all locations accept all forms of payment.
For minors under age 14 each child must appear in person when applying for a passport and all applications require both parents or guardians consent in the form of a DS-3053, Statement of Consent. In addition, both parents need proper identification such as a valid driver's license and proof of relationship between the parents and the child is required. This can be proven with a birth certificate complete with both parents names. For minors age 14-17, each child must appear in person and parental consent may be required for security purposes. If they do not have identification of their own, a parent or guardian must accompany them and present it.
The last step required when considering how to obtain a passport is your social security number. This must be presented when applying for a passport.
Now that you're familiar with how to obtain your passport, you might want to consider learning some secret travel tips to ensure that you have the best possible vacation.