How Do I get a U.S. Passport?
If traveling is on your bucket list, then you are definitely going to eventually need a passport. Passports are required when traveling outside of the United States. It can take awhile to get your passport, sometimes up to 6 weeks, so it is best to plan ahead and get your passport in advance to save on expedite fees. You are required to apply in person if it's your first passport or if you fall under some other exceptions. If you are simply renewing your passport, you can do it by mail if you meet certain requirements.
What will I need to have when getting my passport?You will need:
- Filled out DS-11 Form (Do not sign until presented to the agent if it is a first passport. SSN must be on the form.)
- Evidence of US Citizenship: Previously issued US passport, a certified birth certificate, consular report of birth abroad, naturalization certificate or certificate of citizenship.
- ID: Previously issued US passport, naturalization certificate, valid driver's license, current government ID, or current military ID.
- Photocopies of Evidence of US Citizenship and ID.
- One passport photo (You can get them at a US Post Office, Walgreens, Wal Mart, CVS or other locations for approximately $10-$15).
- A method of payment for the fees.
Can I get a passport in less than two weeks?
Yes. If your cruise is going outside the US in less than two weeks and you've just realized you don't have a valid passport, the Bureau of Consular Affairs will allow you to schedule an appointment at a Regional Passport Agency in the US. Bring proof that your cruise leaves in less than 14 days, such as the actual cruise or plane tickets. An itinerary will not be enough.
You can schedule a time to bring all your documents by calling 1-877-487-2778 which is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Although bypassing all lines at the office is certainly convenient, just know that convenience has a price. You will have to pay a quick turn around Expedite Fee.
What should I do if I am leaving in more than 14 days?
Routine processing time is approximately 4-6 weeks. Expedited service is about 2-3 weeks. Once you've filled out all the necessary paperwork like the DS-11 and have acceptable forms of identification in order, such as your birth certificate, then you can go to a local Passport Application Acceptance Facility and present your application, proof of US citizenship and pay the fees. To locate one near you, log onto https://iafdb.travel.state.gov/.Just need to renew your passport? You can do it by mail if you meet the requirements. For more information go to https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/passports/renew.html.