The US passport application process can be a bit intimidating to anyone who has never owned or even considered the need for a passport. You may be one of them but don't let your fears get in the way of applying for this important document. Travel restrictions, even between Canada, Mexico and the United States are tightening and a passport is becoming a necessary for any kind of travel. It's highly likely, also, that a passport will be the identification of choice over commonly used cards such as a driver's license or state ID cards.
Okay, so where do you start? Rather than jumping right into the application process, it may be a good idea to first consider just what a passport does. First, it verifies that you have met the strict standards set forth by the United States Department of State to show that you are a United States citizen. Secondly, it verifies your identity which is confirmed through your citizenship documents and your current photo identification combined.
Citizenship papers are Birth Certificates, Naturalization Certificates, or Certificates of Citizenship. You might want to start looking for yours now. Photocopies are not accepted, so unless you are able to locate the originals which are embossed and certified, you'll have to write the Office of Vital records in your state for a new Birth Certificate. More information regarding replacing such documents can be found on the Centers for Disease Control website in the section National Center for Health Statistics.
Next step is to track down a /processing office near you, as you'll have to present your application form, paperwork, photos and other ID in person to be witnessed. Your local is a familiar place for passport processing and they often also take passport photos, which will save you time and driving around. Look at the web site of the and you'll find a link designed to help you search by zip code or city and state.
The actual application form needs to be completed, but not signed, to start your passport process. is available at most U.S. Post Offices, libraries and government buildings, but you can also download it from the U.S. State Department web site. Be sure to use only black ink and read the instructions carefully as crossed out or smudged items will mean rejection.
Once you have all your paperwork complete, pull out your checkbook and be ready to pay around $100.00 for the passport process. Credit cards are not accepted. Don't forget also about buying a sturdy and durable mailing envelope. Also, the State Department highly recommends sending your application by a "traceable method". Ask the post office employee what they recommend but certified is a typical choice.
If all goes well, you'll have your new passport within 3 to 4 weeks, along with a return of your citizenship documents. You'll discover that the US passport application process isn't so bad after all and you'll be glad you took the time to get yours.
Visit often to learn more information from our updated US Passport Application.