The process of applying for a passport may seem complicated and overwhelming to many people. Those who have never owned a passport, however, are finding that owing this important means of identification and citizenship verification has become critical for any kind of travel. Although not yet needed for travel within the United States, owing a passport will smooth your way through airport security lines or any other type of transportation which checks identification at boarding time.
The standards and requirements for a passport are set by the United States Department of State. Administration of the passport system is handled by the Bureau of Consular Affairs, a subset of the State Department. This organization has determined the documentation needed and costs of passport application and where applications can be submitted and processed.
The Bureau of Consular Affairs has established over of 8,000 passport offices within the United States. These passport acceptance and/or processing offices are located in various places around the country. The United States Post Office is one of the most familiar such offices. Other locations are local government agencies in towns, cities and municipalities. Your local library also qualifies. Inquire at any of these locations or use the convenient search link located on the web site for the U.S. Department of State. This site allows you to search by city and state or by zip code and distance.
Those who are applying for a passport for the first time must submit the in person to one of the processing offices mentioned above. This is necessary as your identify must be verified along with confirmation of your citizenship. The required application form is a . You can also again visit the web page to download this form and print it on your home printer. Just be sure that the printed result is not blurry or smudged in any way and that the space for the passport photo is 2x2 inches in size. Some printers automatically reduce this area which can be difficult to initially notice.
Speaking of passport photographs, they must meet very strict standards. The size of 2x2 inches is required as is the area of your face and upper body that must show in the photo. To be sure yours isn't rejected, have your passport photograph taken at an authorized site. Some media copy centers do this service, but you'll save time by selecting a passport processing office that takes passport photos in addition to accepting applications.
As mentioned, verification of citizenship is required so be prepared to produce an original embossed, certified Birth Certificate, Naturalization Certificate or Certificate of Citizenship. Also, bring your checkbook and be ready to pay several fees. The application and processing costs can run as much as $100.00 and passport photos also price at around $10.00. Expedited service has an additional charge as does mailing options.
Typically it takes between 2 and 3 weeks to receive your passport in the mail, but this time could be longer if the demand is high. If you plan ahead and be sure you have all the information needed, you'll find that applying for a passport isn't nearly as much trouble as you thought and you'll be glad you did!
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