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Passport Requirements

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us-passport4Smart travelers are the ones who take time to learn about passport requirements well in advance of their trip outside the United States. Even smarter travelers are those who apply for a passport even if they'll only be traveling domestically. A passport makes it easy and quick to get through those long security lines at the airport and is a valuable travel document that is worth the time and money.

Since passport applicants must present their information in person, one of the first steps is to locate a local office. There are a variety of agencies or facilities authorized by the Department of State to issue passports. The most convenient and numerous is a local post office. Your local library, city, or town government offices also have this authority. My first recommendation is always the post office as they're familiar to everyone and many are set up to take passport photographs.

Passport photographs have strict standards and guidelines such as pose and size. You'll need to provide two pictures with your application. Be sure to bring a driver's license along with you, as you'll need it when you have the photograph taken. The price for passport photographs typically runs around $20.00, but check with the agency you'll be visiting as prices can change.

Another item to have completed in advance is the passport application form. This form is called a . Passport agencies will have a copy or you may find it more convenient to download it from the internet from the webpage and print it at home, where you can fill it out at your leisure. Be sure your printer has a full ink cartridge. If any characters on the form don't print clearly, your application could be rejected. You'll need to use black ink when filling in the form and be sure not to sign it in advance, as your signature has to be witnessed when turned into the passport office.

Once you have your photo and form ready, and know where to go, one last thing to do is to gather your other identifying documents. You'll need one of the following: An original, certified Birth Certificate, Certificate of Citizenship or Naturalization Certificate. These cannot be copies and they'll be turned in when you submit your application. You'll receive these back when your passport arrives but to be safe keep a copy for your records.

A passport costs around $97.00 and takes around 2 or 3 weeks to receive. You can pay a bit more for "expedited" service or even overnight delivery if you're in a hurry.

Passport requirements can seem a bit daunting at first but if you do your homework in advance, the process will go quickly and smoothly. Soon you'll be sailing through those security lines on your next trip.

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