It’s that time of the year again–time to pack up the kids, send the dog to the kennel, and get out the summer gear. Everyone loves to take a vacation, but if you’re traveling overseas, don’t forget to bring one crucial document: your passport. Don’t have one? No problem. “Getting a passport is not a difficult process, it’s just a time-consuming process,” says Charlotte Haymore, president of Travel Professionals of Color (www.travelprosofcolor.com).
1. You can apply for a passport at your local post office, municipal office, some courthouses, and some libraries. If you’re applying for a passport for the first time, you must do so in person. You must also apply in person if your last passport was damaged or stolen or if your previous passport has expired and was issued more than 15 years ago, when you were under the age of 16, or under your old name and you don’t have a legal document formally changing your name. Otherwise, you can apply for passport renewal by mail.
2. To prove U.S. citizenship, bring a previous, undamaged passport, a certified birth certificate (a copy won’t do), a naturalization certificate, certificate of citizenship, or a consular report of birth abroad. Born in the U.S. and don’t have a birth certificate or previous passport? Then you’ll need a letter of no record issued by your state of birth that says there is no birth certificate on file for you. In addition, bring as many early public records of your life as possible, such as baptismal certificates, hospital birth certificates, census records, or early school records.
3. Now you need to prove that you are who you say you are. A previous, undamaged passport, naturalization certificate, certificate of citizenship, current driver’s license, government ID, or military ID will do the trick. Otherwise, you can bring a combination of documents, such as your Social Security card, bank card, or library card, along with a U.S. citizen who has known you for at least two years and will vouch for your identity. Don’t forget to bring two identical passport photos that are 2X2 inches in size and were taken within the last six months.
The fee is $85 for individuals 16 and over and $70 for those under 16. Your passport will arrive in about six weeks. For an additional fee of $60, plus the cost of overnight delivery, you can get your passport in two weeks. Because of the steps involved, consider getting your passport even if you’re not planning an immediate trip. “If you’re even thinking of international travel, I would say just go get it and be prepared,” Haymore says. For more information, visit travel.state.gov/passport.
DID YOU KNOW?
If you’re getting a passport for a minor under the age of 14, you’ll need proof of the minor’s citizenship and proof of your relationship to the minor, such as a birth certificate, adoption decree, or court order establishing custody. All minors must apply in person. If both parents are not able to appear, the absent parent must