Having never left the country, I applied for a passport last winter. The process was fairly simple but the idea of making an error on your ticket back into your native country can be stressful.
Here’s a breakdown of the essential steps to getting a passport and its purpose.
What is it?
A passport is a national document issued by your native country that is required for international travel. It says who you are, where you’re from, when you’re born and what your gender is.
Having a passport doesn’t guarantee you entry into another country. That’s where visas come in to play. A visa’s purpose is the grant a person entry and the ability to leave from a country.
How do I go about getting a passport?
You can fill out the passport application online or in person. I did mine at my local post office because for me, that’s what worked easiest. The passport must be valid for at least six months after your length of travel.
Submit any of the following forms of proof of citizenship: previous passport, birth certificate, certificate of citizenship or naturalization certificate. Also submit any of the following as forms of identification: previous passport, driver’s license, military ID or government ID. Submit photocopies of the certificate of citizenship and forms of identification.
Pay the passport fees.
Submit your 2x2inch passport photo. The photo must be in color, be 2x2 square inches, taken in front of a plain white background with your face directly facing the camera. From what I’ve heard, the composition of this photo matters. It’s very important to make sure that the framing is in accordance to what is required. You can find more about the photo logistics online. Your best bet is to go to a passport photo vendor such as your local CVS drugstore.
Also, if you’ve lost or gained a significant amount of weight, had facial reconstruction, or changed your appearance in ways that make you dissimilar to your photo, you should probably get a new one to prevent issues further along that could make a rough start or end to your trip.
A few weeks later, you should receive your passport and be off to where you want to go!
In the case of needing an expedited passport, such as when you are planning a last minute trip or suddenly realize that your current passport is in some way invalid or unavailable, plan to pay 2-3 times as much as normal for expediting the process. There are services that can help you with this should it be necessary.