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So you find that spectacular cruise or suddenly you are faced with a family emergency outside of the country and the first thought that comes to mind is, “how do I get a U.S. Passport”? It’s much easier than people think.
You may visit the U.S. State Department website at https://travel.state.gov and follow the instructions for either your 1st Time Passport or Renewal.
Most 1st time U.S. applicants scramble with concern about the process. It’s relatively simple. Visit the U.S. State Department website and fill out form DS-11 but do not sign the form. Have your passport photos taken. These are available at many pharmacies that offer photo centers or in most of the United States Postal Serices centers and the cost is typically $15.00 for the photos. You’ll need two color photo head shots and wear proper clothing. Next you’ll need proof of citizenship which will be either your birth or naturalization certificate; followed by a government issued photo ID such as a state driver’s license or a military ID card.
Determine your passport fees. The normal fee is $100 plus $35 for the applicant agency fee for processing the passport. This is the least expensive way and you will receive your passport within 5-6 weeks. If you need the passport within 2-3 weeks, you may pay an additional $60 fee to expedite it. If you have an immediate need for the passport which constitutes a life or death emergency, you must make an appointment with the U.S. State Department at 1 of only 26 regional locations by calling 888-874-7793. You will have to show proof of your emergency.
If you do not have an emergency, please locate your closest U.S. Passport agency which typically are at the county courthouse or the United States Post Office. Bring the completed DS-11 form unsigned, birth or naturalization certificate, photo ID and two personal checks. Be prepared to write the first check, money order or cashier’s check made payable to the U.S. Department of State. The second check or the applicant agency’s allowed method of payment is made payable to the agency for the application processing fee.
Your U.S. Passport will arrive in the mail followed by a separate mailing to include your original birth or naturalization certificate for return. This can be inconvenient if you need the certificates for other purposes.
You may also choose a U.S. Passport Card over the Passport Book but the Card is only good for entering Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean and Bermuda. It’s less expensive but it will not allow you to travel by International air.
Once you receive your Passport, you are free to travel Internationally. It’s a relatively simple process and affordable. Now just go explore the world.