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How To Apply For Your U.S. Passport. Step By Step Instructions!

Updated on June 18, 2014

U.S. Passport!

Even if you are not traveling internationally anytime soon I recommend getting yours in a timely manner so it is one less thing you will have to worry about while planning a trip.
Even if you are not traveling internationally anytime soon I recommend getting yours in a timely manner so it is one less thing you will have to worry about while planning a trip.

Getting Ready To Apply For Your Passport.

Before you make the decision to apply for your passport one of the important things to have in mind is if you have the funds available to apply for the passport. Although this is an item that you will have to have if you travel internationally it is not a free item to apply for. Pretty much applying for anything is not free anymore including your own birth certificate. The first fees to have in mind when applying for your passport are the physical fees for the passport. Below is a list of items that are offered and the price associated with each.

  • Passport Book: The cost for just this item alone is $110.00. This item is good for all international travel.
  • Passport Card: The cost for this item alone is $30.00. Although this is a cheaper item compared to the full Passport it is only valid for return travel by land or sea from Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, and the Caribbean.
  • Passport Book and Card: The cost for both these items is $140.00. If you choose this option you will receive both your passport book and card.

The next fee you will have to determine for yourself is the processing fee associated for your Passport application. There are three processing options that are offered. Here is a list of those charges that will be applied in addition to the first fee.

  • Standard Processing: The cost for standard processing is $0.00. However, this option will take between 4-6 weeks before you will receive your Passport.
  • Expedited Processing: The cost to expedite your processing is $60.00. This option will allow you to get your passport within 2-3 weeks.
  • Expedited At Agency: The cost of this option is $60.00. This is processed in 5 business days or less. However, this option is only done on a need basis. This option will best work for you if you are in need of a passport as soon as possible and you can prove you have a trip planned within a week.

There is also one more standard fee you have to determine before you decide to apply for your passport. This fee is the delivery fee. The passports will be shipped out by two options. These two options are listed below/

  • Standard Delivery: The cost for standard delivery is $0.00. If you choose this option your passport will be sent to you via USPS Priority Mail. Priority Mail will take between 1-3 business days dependent on your location. The documents you submit with your application will also be returned to you but they will be returned to you via First Class Mail.
  • Overnight Delivery: The cost for Overnight Delivery is $14.85. Your Passport will be overnight-ed to your location and all your other documents will be returned to you via First Class Mail.

There is one more standard fee that will be added to your order that you will have to pay at the acceptance facility (more information on the acceptance facility will come later in this article). The other fee you have to pay is known as the execution fee. This fee is $25.00 and the payment is made to the acceptance facility and not the Department Of State.

The above stated fees are all the standard fees that will be associated with your application. However, there may be some extra fees you will have to pay. You will most likely have to pay for passport photos (more information will be provided in this article) and copies of your documents and license.

Once you have figured out the fees you will have to pay it is time to collect all the necessary documents that you will be asked for.

  • Evidence of US Citizenship: This document can not be photo copied and you will have to submit the original document with your application. Do not worry you will get this document back after everything has been processed. Documents that are acceptable for this are: Certified U.S. Birth Certificate (many people have what is known as an abstract certified birth certificate, an abstract will not work for your application), Consular Report of Birth Abroad, or Certificate of Naturalization/Citizenship.
  • Photo Identification: When you apply you will have to show the agent the original and will have to submit a photo copy of this item. When you photo copy this item you will have to photo copy the front and back. This item can be a black and white photo copy but the copy does have to be clear. Options that you can submit for this section are a: Valid Driver's License (if the ID was issued in a different state then the state in which you are applying you will have to bring a second ID), Certificate of Naturalization, Valid Government ID (city, state, or federal), or Valid Military ID.
  • Passport photo (more information on this further in article).

Once you have gathered all the necessary documentation you will have to fill out form DS-11. Most acceptance agencies will have this document at their location. However, if you want to be ahead of the game you can print out and fill this document out before you arrive to the acceptance facility. Here is a link to a PDF copy of this document http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/212239.pdf . Make sure to pay attention to the sections to fill out and not to fill out the section that is done by the acceptance agent at the facility.

Now that you have DS-11 filled out and all the necessary documents it is time to go to an acceptance facility and turn in the application. To find a location where you will be able to submit this application simply use this link http://iafdb.travel.state.gov/ . This link will lead you to a query in which you will be able to find the closest acceptance facility. To give you a warning more acceptance facility are on an appointment only basis.

At the location the acceptance agent will go over your documents, fill out the appropriate section on your application, and attach necessary documents and payments (check or money order). Once you are done at this location you have officially submitted your passport application.

How Easy Was It For Me To Apply For My Passport?

5 stars for Passport Application Process

How To Get Your Passport Photo.

There are many locations that offer passport photos. I was able to do this at the acceptance facility itself. However, there may be cheaper options to pursue getting this. Some locations that offer passport photos are:

  • CVS (if they have a photo center at the location)
  • Costco
  • AAA
  • UPS
  • Walgreens
  • United States Postal Office

Although this is a small list these are the most common locations people go to get their passport photos done.

However, your passport photo has strict guidelines it has to go by to be approved for your passport. Below is a list of the main guidelines your photo will have to follow.

  • 2x2 inches on photo quality paper, this photo has to be in color with a white background.
  • The photo has to be taken within the last 6 months and show your current appearance.
  • This photo will be a full face photo.
  • You have to wear normal street attire this means no uniforms, hats, or headgear.

Passport Photos!

Make sure your photo meets all the guidelines other wise your application will be denied.
Make sure your photo meets all the guidelines other wise your application will be denied.

Getting Your Passport

Did you find the whole ordeal of getting your Passport difficult?

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Acceptance Facility

The acceptance facility that I used while submitting my application was the local USPS office. Using this option was pretty simple for me except for one minor issue I had. This office did not offer to photo copy my ID for me. So I had to go to the office where they told me they could not copy my license for me and sent me to a location down the street to copy the ID. I believe it would have been a little easier for all if they offered this service at their office. Once I had the copies I returned to the facility where they processed my order and took my passport photo for me. You would think if they had the resources to take photos that they would have the resources to make a simply copy of a license, but like I said it really is no big deal.

Passport In No Time!

If you follow the steps that were laid out in this article you will get your passport in no time. Once you get your passport I hope you enjoy your vacation!

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