US passport offices are places you’ve very likely passed by many times, even spent time in, without realizing it. Passport offices, also known as passport processing centers, are designed by the United States Department of State. There are approximately 8,000 throughout the U.S.
The most commonly known passport offices are the U.S. Post Office, your local library or any number of government agency buildings in your city or town. These designated agencies are allowed to accept passport applications, which must be presented in person in order to obtain a first time passport. If you’re looking for a passport office, then you’ve probably decided you need a passport and are finding out what’s involved.
The passport application process can be a bit intimidating, but once you understand what’s needed, it gets easier to understand. First thing is to find that original copy of your Birth Certificate. It has to be original and certified, with that raised seal. Naturalization Certificates or Certificates of Citizenship also are accepted and also must be original.
Next is the actual application form, called DS-11 “Application for a U.S. Passport”. This is available at any passport office, and can also be downloaded from the United States Department of State website. This form is the key to getting a passport, so fill it out carefully, black ink only and don’t cross out or write over any mistakes, or it will be rejected. It has to be signed in the presence of a passport official, so resist adding your signature until you get to the passport office.
You’ll also need two passport photos, which have to be 2×2 inches in size and meet strict setting standards. Most passport offices also take passport photos, especially post offices, so pick an office that can take pictures for you. Prices for photos run around $ 10.00 to $ 20.00, but ask to be sure.
Speaking of price, fees for first time passport applicants are running at this writing about $ 100.00 which is the estimation of the combined fees for the State Department and passport processing office. You’ll also want to buy a strong and durable mailing envelope and send your application by a traceable method, such as certified.
After everything has been mailed in, it’s about a 3 to 4 week wait if all goes well. Once you receive your passport, you’ll be good for 10 years. Keep it somewhere safe until you’re ready for that next travel adventure.
C.L. Hendricks has been a Jill-of-all-trades and become an expert in some. She has also traveled extensively and now writes about travel destinations around the world for Family Vacation Spots and Best Vacation Getaways