If you do not understand the United States passport application process, you are not alone. In today's post-911 world, there are many people who are considering the need for a passport but are unclear on how the US process works. If you've never owned a passport before, it can be confusing and unclear as to what, where and how to obtain a U.S. passport.
Anyone who has never had a passport must submit their application in person. This is a necessary step as your identify must be verified by a passport official, as a passport has very strict qualification requirements. There are over 8,000 passport facilities in the United States. One that many people are familiar with is the in their city or town. Post offices are convenient passport processing sites, as are local libraries or town or city government offices. Start by selecting a passport facility in your area either by checking out the telephone book or searching on the internet.
Since a passport requires 2 photographs of very specific size and composition, think about also asking if the passport office issues passport pictures. This will save time tracking down a separate passport photo location as you'll be able to take care of everything at one place.
The form required to apply for a U.S. passport is This form can be picked up at the same office where you'll be submitting your application, or conveniently downloaded from the internet and printed at home. The has an excellent web site and has this form available. Be sure to print it on good quality paper with a full ink cartridge so that none of the information is blurred or illegible, which are grounds for rejection. Fill it out with only black ink and most importantly, don't sign the form as your signature has to be witnessed by the passport official who accepts your application.
Since a passport is a verification of citizenship, supporting documents are required at time of application. Examples are an original, embossed and certified birth certificate or naturalization certificate. Photo copies are not acceptable and these documents must be sent in with your application. They'll be returned to you when your passport is sent by mail, but make a copy for your records just to be prudent.
Applying for a passport the first time is a bit pricey for many people, running around $100.00 due to the many fees involved. Also, passport photos are a separate cost as is a request for "expedited" processing. Add in mailing costs and the overall price goes up. Ask about current fees when you contact your local passport office to know what the final tab will be, as prices change with time.
Take the time to understand all you can about the United States passport application process and you'll find it will go smoothly. You'll only have to go through all this once, as your passport is good for 10 years and renewal is must less expensive and time consuming. A U.S. passport is a valuable and worthwhile document that every person should own. Don't put off applying for yours.
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