A Comprehensive Guide To Applying For A Passport
A Comprehensive Guide to Applying for a Passport: Differences, Costs, and Wait Times Explained
Are you planning an international trip and need a passport? Applying for one can seem overwhelming, but don't worry - we've got you covered. In this comprehensive guide, we'll walk you through the passport application process, explain the differences between a passport card and a passport book, discuss wait times, and lay out the costs involved. Let's dive in!
How to Apply for a Passport
1. Gather your documents: Before filling out any forms, gather your proof of citizenship (such as a birth certificate) and government-issued photo ID (like a driver's license). You'll also need a recent 2x2-inch color photograph of yourself that meets specific requirements.
2. Fill out Form DS-11: Use black ink and print legibly to complete Form DS-11, which is available on the U.S. Department of State's website.
3. Submit your application: Bring your completed form, supporting documents, photograph, and fees to an authorized Passport Acceptance Facility (like a post office). If you're replacing a lost or damaged passport or are under 16 years old, you must apply in person.
Passport Card vs. Passport Book
Passport Card: This wallet-sized card is more cost-effective than the passport book but has limited use. It’s valid only for land and sea travel to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda - meaning you cannot use it for international air travel.
Passport Book: This is the traditional format and allows for unrestricted international travel by land, sea, or air. It contains visa pages to track your entries and exits from various countries.
Passport Wait Times:
Routine service typically takes 4-6 weeks from when the application is submitted until receipt of the passport. However, processing times may be longer during peak travel seasons or due to unforeseen events.
Passport Costs: At the time of this writing the application fee for the passport card costs $65, and the passport book costs $145. Choose the expedited service to receive your passport within 2-3 weeks and add $60 to the standard application fee.
Don't wait until you know where you are going to get your passport. Go ahead and get your passport beforehand and you will have one less thing pressing you for time when deciding where to travel.