Travel Planning – Tips for Applying for Your Passport

Most travelers take the first step when planning their next trip out of the United States to apply for an American passport or renew their existing one. Considered one of the most powerful in the world, the United States passport is generally valid for ten years for citizens over the age of 16.

American flag and passport

Officials from the US State Department, the government entity responsible for issuing passports, recommend renewing the document as soon as the previous one expires, especially if you have family abroad. If you are asking to be issued a passport for the first time, keep in mind that all US Citizens must provide a “Long Form” (Official) Certified Birth Certificate when applying for their passports. This is where services like shine because they allow you to submit an error-free application online to request a certified copy of your birth certificate, entirely from the comfort of your own home with any computer or device connected to the internet.

When did you last check the expiration dates of your family’s passport? If you have loved ones abroad, keep your documents up to date in case you need to travel at the last minute due to an emergency. But even if you simply wish to be prepared since travel is beginning to become more accessible again after more than a year of COVID19, keeping your passport up-to-date is crucial.

Tips for Getting your Travel Passport

jar with money for travel compass camera passport on map

Legal details

It is also worth noting for those whose passport expiration date is approaching that many countries require the passport to be valid for at least six months after entering that country.

What are the requirements to renew the passport?

According to the Bureau of Consular Affairs of the Department of State, there are four eligibility requirements for passport renewal through USPS post offices:

  • Form DS-80 U.S. Passport Renewal Application for Eligible Individuals must be completed on the Department’s website and subsequently printed and signed. Instructions are on page 2 of the worksheet.
  • A 2×2-inch color photograph taken within the last six months. The official indications on the photography conditions should be carefully followed to avoid unnecessary delays. Failures in the photo are the most common reason for refusal.

Asian couple traveler holding the passport with suitcases at the

Many post offices with services that accept passport applications can also take authorized photographs. Check the locations of these USPS branches before heading to one.

  • The most recent American passport, which must have been issued in the last 15 years, and the holder has been over 16 years old on the date of issue.
  • Payment of the corresponding fee, according to the procedure. A passport book for air travel (passport book) costs $110, and a passport card for trips by land or sea to Mexico and Canada (passport card), $30.
    An additional fee of $60 is optional for expedited service.

Unrecognizable tourist with a hat and a passport in hand

Who can renew the US passport by mail?

For renewing the US passport by mail, it is essential to comply with all the following conditions, according to the authorities:

  • Have a passport issued in the last 15 years.
  • Have been at least 16 years old when the previous passport was issued.
  • The passport must be in good condition beyond everyday wear and tear, that is, it cannot be damaged. Nor can it be a passport that was lost and later found.
  • The passport has the current name of the holder, or if the applicant’s name changed due to marriage or court order, you can show the legal documents of the name change. 

How long does the renewal of the US passport delay?

Man holds a passport in his hand on the tropical background

The delay varies by season, the US government reports on its consumer information page. For routine service, the estimate ranges from six to eight weeks. Expedited service takes two to three weeks. In “life or death” emergencies, or if you travel within two weeks, expedited service at one of the regional passport agencies takes eight business days. However, due to COVID19, the wait times could be higher.

If you believe you have lost or misplaced your birth certificate, is your best option to replace it quickly. They also offer free online guides to teach you what you should do to protect yourself from identity theft, and how to report it lost or stolen to the issuing office.

Having a new passport is advisable right now due to all the new travel restrictions. We hope to have helped you find the quickest and easiest way to obtain the necessary documents and renew your travel passport in the swiftest manner.

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