Passport Changes; Facts You Need to Know - Part 2

I hope you appreciated the urgency to not let your passport lapse or let it's renewal run to the last minute.  But if you did...

Expediting a Passport

OK, you procrastinated and now you must expedite your application. Expediting your passport application takes about 2 to 3 weeks via the State Department and will cost an extra $60 plus $12.85 for overnight delivery. That’s in addition to the standard processing fees. (Processing times can vary, so check here for the most up-to-date estimate.) 

Too long to wait? If you need a passport within 2 weeks, schedule an appointment to show up in person, with proof of travel, at a regional passport agency. 

Desperate? Then you need to pay for passport expediting services, which sometimes charge hundreds of dollars to secure passports in as little as 24 hours. 

Lesson, don’t procrastinate, check your passport so you can renew or apply through the standard process. You’ll save yourself a lot of money and stress.

Getting Your First Passport

Congratulations, you are making the decision to travel internationally. For your first passport, you have to apply in person. Make an appointment at an acceptance facility or passport agency; check here for the one closest to you. Here’s a You Tube video of what to expect. 

Arrive at your passport agency with: You filled in DS-11 form - The form has a list of all the acceptable documents for the requirements below.

  • Evidence of U.S. citizenship.
  • Valid identification.
  • A photocopy of the front and back of your identification; on clean, white 8½" x 11" paper.
  • For a first-time adult passport, the total fee is $135.
  • Passport photos. You can read more about the specifications for passport photos on the application form. Most major chain drug stores, offer appropriately sized passport photos that comply with government standards. Personally, I like to go to an agency that specializes in passport photos.  After all you have to look at that picture for 10 years.  Do you want to look at the mug shot from the drug store every time you travel?

Passports For Kids

Double-check your child's passport. Child passports are only valid for five years, and are subject to more paperwork, i.e.  parental consent forms, proof of a parent-child relationship. For children ages 15 and younger, the fees and requirements for getting a passport are a little different than those for adults. Essentially, parents need to provide identification in addition to proof that they are legal guardians for child applicants. Guardians in two-parent households must appear together with the child or provide a notarized statement of consent from the absentee adult. Single parents must appear in person as well. And all parents must show proof of legal guardianship; this would include a birth certificate or a court order.

A passport for a minor cost $105. And the usual—Form DS-11, a standard passport photo, and the appropriate identification for parent(s) and child—must be brought to your local passport office. Read more about getting a passport for a child here.  

Lost or Stolen Passports Abroad

Always travel with a photocopy of your passport; this will make your situation much easier if your passport vanishes. I always put my passport in the hotel safe and keep a photocopy with me.  I even have a second photocopy in the safe. The State Department advises that American travelers contact the closest U.S. embassy or consulate if you lose their passport while abroad. You'll have to go in person to get a new passport to return home.

Adding Pages to a Passport

As of January 1, 2016, you can no longer add pages to your passport.  When you renew your passport, you can opt for 28 or 52 pages.  If you travel a lot, go for the 52.  If you are down to your last 4 pages, time to renew.

Changing Your Name on Your Passport

Good news: There's no fee for changing the name on your passport if your passport was issued less than a year ago. If not, then you must pay the renewal fee.

To change your name, fill out the appropriate form (use Form DS-5504 if your current passport is less than a year old and Form DS-82 if your passport is more than a year old) and mail it with your current passport, original proof of name change, a passport photo, and renewal fees, if necessary. Details about name changes

Honeymooners - If you are changing your name when you get married, book your honeymoon in the name you had before the ceremony and use that passport for your flights, visa etc. You can apply for a new passport in your new name, when you return.

Passport fees calculator – This will give you the current cost for any of the above applications, including renewals. 

Now that you have had a crash course on US Passports, where are you going to go to use this wonderful pass to explore the world?