If you desire to travel outside of the country you will need a passport. A passport is government issued legal documentation that verifies your citizenship. In most cases a passport will contain a photograph, your personal information and numerous blank pages that are intended for stamps that grant your access to a foreign country. The process of applying for a passport is relatively easy, but there are several steps you will need to take.
Applying for a passport requires having your personal proof of identification on hand. This proof can be a state issued driver’s license or a state issued photo ID. You will also need to have a copy of your birth certificate. With these documents you can begin the process.
In the case that you cannot locate a copy of your birth certificate, you will need to obtain one before applying for a passport. Obtaining your birth certificate can be done in person, requested over the phone, or via the Internet. You may also mail a request to Office of Vital Records in the county in which you were born.
Once you have your ID and birth certificate you are ready to being the process. It is possible to apply for a passport online, unless, however, you are applying for the first time. In that case, you will need to do so in person. If you have had a passport in the past, then you can re-apply online.
When applying online you simply need to access the website for the U. S. State Department. When applying online it is a good idea to refrain from signing the application until it has been approved. Doing otherwise could result in someone else accessing your passport.
When applying for a passport you will need to go to your local post office, or circuit clerk’s office. Remember to bring your birth certificate, your ID and a 2 inch x 2 inch recent photo. To obtain the photo you can have it taken in most places that develop film, such as a local pharmacy.
When you have arrived at you passport issuing agency, then you will need to present your documentation and your photos. A passport agent will review this material. When the passport has been approved, you can then pay the passport fee. You will receive your passport via the mail.
This process may take up to six months, from applying to receiving it in the mail. Considering how long this process can be, you should start the procedure well in advance of your planned trip. If for some reason you need to have this returned quickly, you can pay an expediting fee, which should reduce the waiting time considerably.
If your passport has not arrived in a reasonable amount of time, you may want to contact your local Congressional representative to see if they can assist with applying for an American passport and pushing this process along. Once you have received your passport, it is good for 15 years. Actually renewing a US passport is much easier than applying for a passport and can be done via mail.