Planning or even just thinking about traveling outside the U.S. in the near future? Then you are going to need a U.S. Passport, even if you are only planning to go to Mexico or Canada. Since most of us go online to at least research our possible trips, I’m sure you have seen the ads regarding passports. These ads charge a fee to do what you can do yourself through your local U.S. Post Office. They basically charge you to file the paperwork and you still must pay the fees charged by the U.S. Government. The best place to get your U.S. Passport is your nearest Post Office, just check ahead to make sure they offer the service.
I don’t want to make it seem that it’s as simple as just going down to the Post Office and a short while later you have your passport. You will need to bring some documents with you. The first document you will need will be a proof of citizenship. This can be a certified U.S. Birth Certificate, issued by the city, county, or state you were born in, and it must have a raised notary seal. You can not use a copy or one issued by the hospital. You may also use, as proof of citizenship, a Record of Birth Abroad, a Naturalization Certificate, or a Certificate of Citizenship.
You will also have to prove your identity. Proof of identity can be by a previous U.S. passport, as long as it is not damaged or altered. You can also use a valid driver’s license, government identification, either city, state, or federal, or a military identification. The previously mentioned Naturalization Certificate and Certificate of Citizenship, can also be used for this purpose.
The next thing you will need is two passport photos. Many places advertise the service of taking passport photos, however these also can be taken at most U.S. Post Offices, so why not just take care of all of it at one time. You should dress in every day normal clothes, and if you wear glasses, you should wear them in the pictures.
You will have to fill out some paperwork while you are there, for this you will need to know your Social Security number. A tip that may save you some trouble is to go online and look at a passport application before going to the Post Office. This will allow you to see if there is anything needed you don’t know off the top of your head.
A U.S. Passport is not free. The charge for an adult is $110, plus about $25 in fees. A chid under the age of 16 costs $85. The good news is an adult passport is good for 10 years, while a child’s is good for 5 years. You may also pay an extra fee to rush the processing of your application. This fee is $60, and this service may be needed if you didn’t realize the time to process an application can vary anywhere from two weeks to up to two months.
There are many services which advertise passport services. What you need to remember is only the U.S. Government can issue a U.S. Passport. The U.S. Post Office is staffed with knowledgeable, and helpful people who will help you through the process, something you can’t get online. Best of all, the help you get at the Post Office is free, all you need to pay are the processing fees.