This might shock you to hear me say this, but the majority of my friends and family in the USA do not have passports! It's unbelievable to me. Not having a passport means you're minimum weeks away from leaving the country. Personally, even when I'm home in the US visiting, I carry my passport with me everywhere I go. I'm literally ready to travel internationally at any given moment. And despite my constant harassment to everyone I know to get their passport, it still remains that the majority of my friends and family are passport-less.
Last year I sent my brother explicit instructions on how to apply for a passport. (Still waiting, brother.) And since then I've copied and pasted those instructions into countless e-mails, including one a few minutes ago, which inspired me to write this post. In just a moment I'm going to provide instructions on how to apply for a passport, but first…
Why do I need a passport?
If you're a traveler like me, the reasons to have a passport are obvious. But for those of you who shared this article with your friends and family to encourage them, here's a quick reminder for them.
Reasons To Have Your Passport
- For when your best friend spontaneously gets engaged and invites you to a destination wedding a week away.
- For when your brother gets arrested in a foreign country and needs you to bail him out RIGHT AWAY!
- DOOMS DAY SCENARIO: You finally decide to put your money where your mouth is and leave the country after bitching about Trump on Facebook for so long.
- You just won a giveaway for an all expense paid vacation in Europe that you never thought you'd actually win.
- You lost your drivers license and need a backup form of identification.
- You live in a US State where starting in 2018, your State ID won't meet federal requirements to board domestic flights.
- You just blew the whistle on a government wide conspiracy and need to quickly get to a country without extradition laws.
- Because the world is getting smaller every day and why limit yourself to vacationing in the same place you already went last summer?
- You lose (or quit) your job and decide to embrace the Nomadic Lifestyle.
Are those enough reasons for you? What reasons am I missing? Let me know in the comments section at the bottom of this post.
Now that I've sold you on why you need a passport, here are instructions on how to apply.
Instructions: How To Apply for An American Passport
It's very easy to get your passport and I'm going to provide you with step by step instructions below. Please note that the instructions are slightly different if (1) this is your first time applying for a passport, (2) you're renewing your passport and are still in possession of your old passport, or (3) you're renewing your passport but are no longer are in possession of your old passport.
Summary of Fees: Application ($110) + Execution Fee ($25) + Postage ($5) + Passport Photo ($16) + Expedite Fee ($60) = About $216 total
Here's a detailed breakdown of fees provided by the US Dept of State.
Step 1) Fill out the application form online or print out the PDF: Form DS11 (for first time applicants, or renewals that don't have possession of old passport) or Form DS82 (renewals who have possession of old passport).
Step 2) Buy a new Passport Photo at Kinkos, Walgreens, or FedEx for about $16. Don't try to save the money and take your own photo. There are specific requirements so let someone who is familiar with passport photos take it for you. It'd be a waste of time and money to have your application rejected because the photo didn't meet their requirements. Many local passport agencies also offer this service, so call ahead and find out because you may be able to take care of everything in one place.
Step 3) Visit a local passport agency (typically a post office, but not all post offices have passport agencies so check first using the link below). You need to apply in person if you don't have a copy of your old passport or if it's your first time applying for a passport. You are also required to pay the expedited fee of $60 in either of those instances. Here's a list of your closest passport agencies.
Step 4) Mail the application form, photo, payment, proof of US citizenship (copy of original birth certificate), and the paperwork you receive when applying in person to the address listed on the application form. If you are renewing your passport, you'll also have to include your old one, but don't worry about losing your precious stamps because they'll send it back! Your local passport agency will usually verify that your application is filled out properly and that you have all the information necessary to submit the application to help ensure that it's approved.
You will have the option of purchasing a 1) Passport ($110) or 2) Passport and Passport Card ($140). You don't need the secondary passport card.. that's only good for Mexico and Canada. Save the money. The Passport itself is what you need.. not the small card version. That's just extra.
I hope that helps make things easier for you! Let me know if you have any questions about the process and I'll try my best to help. Otherwise contact your local passport agency with your questions because they are usually pretty helpful.
Encourage your friends and family to get their passports
E-mail this post to your friends and family who are passport-less or share it on your favorite social network. If you're on Pinterest, I've also got a special Pinterest friendly graphic below that you can use. Thanks for reading and happy travels!