How to get a passport | How to renew a passport

How to Get a Passport: A guide even My Mom can use

This article is literally for my mom (hence the title). She keeps asking how to get a passport. So…I’m going to walk you through this process like I would my own mother except without my eye rolling and her reminders of teenage delinquency.

How to get a passport : Step 1 – Get a Passport Form

You have some options here: Go online to fill out and print your form, or go to your closest post office and pick up a form there. Form DS-11. (They always have the vaguest of names for these things.)

How to get a passport helpful link #1Find your nearest participating post office via USPS.com.

(No Mom, there is no one there at the post office that can complete this form for you, even if you offer to pay them. Nope, not even if you threaten to sue them for emotional damages if you don’t get to see your child in 6 months. You have to do this yourself. Take a deep breath. We believe in you.)

When we went through this process, we went and picked up the form first at our nearest post office. Then went home to fill it out and gather everything else below before going to a different post office that had a Passport Acceptance Center.

How to get a passport : Step 2 – Gathering your info.

You will need:

  • Evidence of U.S. citizenship – Submit one of either Original quality or a Certified Copy
    • Birth certificate, Certificate of Naturalization, Certificate of Citizenship, Consular Report of Birth Abroad, or an Expired, undamaged U.S Passport.
  • A photocopy of U.S. citizenship evidence – Black and white on a normal sheet of A4
  • Photo ID– Submit one to be verified by the agent
    • Driver’s license (from the state you are applying in and valid), U.S. passport (even expired) Certificate of Naturalization or Citizenship, Government employee ID, U.S. military ID or military dependent ID, Valid foreign passport
  • A photocopy of ID

How to get a passport: Step 3 – Passport Photos

Not just any kind of photos but PASSPORT photos. NO cropped selfies of us won’t count. To simplify this greatly, ask your local pharmacy or photo center if they offer this service. Keep in mind, for whatever reason this photo is over $10. It’s a tiny square of your unsmiling face. (I can print a photo for .52 cents, but this costs $12.99?)

If you’re looking to save a few bucks, because passports aren’t cheap already, then do it yourself. Check out the link below for a video of a bunch of tips for getting the perfect photo.

How to get a passport helpful link #2“Picture Perfect Passport” – U.S. Dept. of State

How to get a passport: Step 4 – The Send-Off

After getting through all these steps (still with us Mom?) head back to the nearest Passport Acceptance Center. (The place you found in Helpful Link #1 above) To be doubly sure, it’s best to make an appointment so you don’t go waste a bunch of time.

Make sure you have everything in hand including:

  • Evidence of U.S. Citizenship
  • Photo Identification & Photocopy of that Identification
  • Passport Photo
  • Form DS-11, completed but not signed (Did you see? DON’T SIGN IT YET UNTIL THEY TELL YOU TO MOM)
  • The money required

How to get a passport – How much is it? (Quick side note on money)

  • New Passport Book Fee: +$110 (Made out to ‘U.S. Department of State’)
  • Execution Fee: +$25 (Paid separately to the Acceptance Facility)
  • Processing Times:
    • +$0
      • 6 weeks to process
    • +$60
      • 2-3 weeks to process
    • +$60 -Restrictions apply.
      • 8 business days or less based on need to process
  • Delivery
    • USPS Priority Mail: Free
    • Overnight Delivery: +$15.45 USPS Express Mail

Verify your payment options before going to either a Passport Acceptance Facility or Passport Center. (Yep, they’re different Mom.)

How NOT to get a passport: A Final Word.

Plan ahead. If you’re trip is a year away, go ahead and do it now. Don’t keep putting it off. It takes time to process and it will save you money. If you have no trip upcoming but are sure you will be traveling some time in the next few years, go ahead and do it. (It might even spur you into booking that trip you’ve been thinking about.)

So there you have it. How to get a passport. Mom, you have zero excuses now! We love you. :-*

Did you wait until the last minute or have some sort of blunder or trouble in your journey to get a passport? Let us know all about it in the comments below. 

 

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