Many people think that obtaining a passport is difficult and stressful. The truth is that it is not as hard as it seems. Compared to visa applications and all the other annoyances that come with traveling abroad, applying for a passport is much easier. All you need is to prepare all the documents that you have to submit, wait for a number of days, and presto, you can have your passport. It’s just as simple as that.
If you have no idea how the application system works, it could be difficult to obtain a passport. To make your life a lot easier, here are the answers to some of the questions that you might be mumbling right now.
What is a passport?
A passport is an official travel document that the government issues to its citizens, allowing them to travel abroad and return to the country. It confirms both the identity and the nationality of the holder. It also serves as evidence that the holder was entitled to leave the country at the time the passport was issued.
What is passport validity?
A passport is valid only within a particular period of time set by the government. Once it reaches the end of that period, you can no longer use it, and no country will let you enter their territory with it. The fact that a passport is valid means that you may return to your country or to the country that issued it. It also provides the country being visited with a guarantee that you will not remain trapped or stranded within its territory.
How do I get a passport?
If you have never had a passport before, or you have lost or damaged your passport and you need a new one, you have to apply in person. Before that, though, make sure you have completed an application form. You can obtain one from the Internet or any passport agency. Then, present proof of citizenship such as a birth certificate, a certificate of citizenship or a naturalization certificate. Next, prove your identity with a driver’s license, military ID, government ID or naturalization certificate. You also need to provide two 2” x 2” identical passport photos taken within the past six months. Finally, take care of the application fees. Minors should also appear in person and must present parental consent.
Where do I get an application form?
Passport application forms are available at the Department of Foreign Affairs or Department of Immigration. You can also get forms from courthouses, post offices, municipal offices and other public offices where passport applications are accepted. The easiest way is to visit the website of the concerned government agency and download the form.
If you currently reside in a foreign country, you can obtain an application form from your country’s consulate or an embassy in your area.
I will need a passport very soon. Can I get one in a hurry?
It depends on the country you are in. Some countries offer expedited services for an additional fee. In the United States, you have to pay $60 per application in addition to overnight delivery costs. Anyone may ask for this service for first time applications, amendments of existing passports, renewals or any other type of application.
Should I maintain a valid passport?
Of course – you don’t know when you will have to travel abroad. If you already have a passport, you won’t have to spend more on expedited services in the event of an unexpected business trip or an emergency involving a loved one abroad. It will save you time and money. Maintaining a valid passport is highly recommended for people who have family traveling or living abroad, and those whose job requires international travel. A passport is also an excellent ID document.
How long does it take to process a passport?
The processing time depends on the workload and occasional unexpected circumstances like natural disasters. In many countries, it usually takes five to 10 working days. In the United States, if you want to obtain a passport the earliest possible time, you are encouraged to expedite your application for an additional fee.
How can I renew my passport?
The first step is to obtain the right application form. In the United States, if you want to renew by mail, you need Form DS-82. You can only use it if the passport you already have is not damaged and was issued within the past 15 years. Once you’ve filled out the form, be sure to sign it. Then, attach your most recent passport and two identical passport-size photographs. You need to pay $75 to the US Department of State.
My passport has expired. What should I do?
Renew it. If your passport was issued less than 15 years ago, you can renew it. Otherwise, you will have to apply for a new one.
How soon can I renew my passport before it expires?
Generally, a passport can only be renewed within six months from its expiration. Nevertheless, if you have a good reason, the Department can renew it earlier. These reasons include significant appearance change or residing in another country for one year or longer.
My underage child needs a passport. How do I get it?
Contact the Foreign Affairs Office or the Immigration Office. Every country has its own policies when it comes to minors. In the United States, if your child is under 16, he or she must still appear in person and parental consent is required. Both parents also need to show valid ID. If your child is 16 to 17, you don’t need to present ID.
I was recently married or divorced. Can I change my name on my passport?
Yes, you can. All you need to do is grab a copy of a passport re-application form within a year of the issuance date of the passport you currently have. Once completed, submit it with the following:
- your current passport (the one to be replaced)
- divorce decree, marriage certificate or any other certified documentation of your name change
- two passport-size photos
Don’t forget to pay all applicable fees.
My passport was stolen. What should I do?
Apply for a new passport. While you’re at it, report your stolen or lost passport by submitting a completed Lost or Stolen Passport form. For more information, approach any Foreign Service staff and tell him or her about it to find out exactly what to do.
My baby was born abroad. What should I do?
Whatever your nationality is, you should register your child’s birth at your country’s embassy or consulate if you want your baby to inherit your nationality. This is necessary for embassies to establish an official record. In the United States, this document is called a “Consular Report of Birth Abroad.”
I am denied a passport because I was born abroad. What should I do?
You should prove your citizenship by submitting a Consular Report of Birth Abroad.
I do not have any birth record. What do I do?
If you were born in the country of your citizenship and there is no birth record, you need several documents to substantiate your citizenship. These include a “letter of no record” from the Vital Statistics Office and other early public records to prove that you were born in your country or that your parents are nationals.
I want to renew my passport. Will I get the old one back?
Yes. Many countries return old or canceled passports. These may be sent separately from the new one. You should keep your old passport because it is an excellent proof of your citizenship. For more information regarding this article, read how to get a passport and as a bonus here’s the list of the Top ten kinds of passport used today.