A passport is an important document used for identification and for getting into other countries. The United States Department of State is the exclusive issuer of passports in the US.
There are four types of passports issued by the government. They are:
Tourist – Tourist (also known as Regular) passports are issued to citizens as well as to non-citizens. For individuals 16 years and older, the validity is 10 years from the date the passports are issued. For younger applicants, the period is five years. The sub-type for regular passports is the no-fee passport, which is issuable under specified purposes and categories. The period of validity for the no-fee passport is five years. There is an endorsement for no-fee passports that prohibit their use for purposes other than that intended.
Official – Official passports are issued to federal employees traveling on official government business, as well as United States employees assigned overseas, whether temporarily or permanently. The period of validity is five years from the date the passports are issued.
Diplomatic – Diplomatic passports are issued to American diplomats who travel overseas for any form of diplomatic work. The period of validity is five years from the date the passports are issued.
Emergency – Emergency passports are issued to individuals overseas who may have lost their passports. The period of validity is one year from the date it is issued. In cases of repatriations, emergency passports are limited to a direct return to the United States. (Tips on how to renew a U.S. Passport)
For those who want to get a passport, certain requirements have to be met.
First, you must provide an Application for Passport Form (DS-11). You can obtain the form online or from any passport agency.
Second, you must present a proof of US Citizenship. A valid proof can either be your previous US passport, a certified birth certificate issued by your city/country/state, a naturalization certificate, or a certificate of citizenship.
Third, you must present a proof of identity. Your previous passport will do, as well as a naturalization certificate. You can also use your current driver’s license, any government ID, or any military ID. Note that your Social Security Card is not a valid proof of identity.
If these proofs of identity are not available, you need some signed documents and a person who can vouch for you. The person must have known you for at least two (2) years, be a US citizen (or a permanent resident), have a valid ID, and must have filled out a Form DS-71. It must be filled out in the presence of a passport agent.
Fourth, you must provide two identical passport photos.
Fifth, you must pay the application fee.
Lastly, you must provide your Social Security Number. A penalty of $500 may be imposed upon you by the Internal Revenue Service if you do not comply.
When submitting your passport photos, vending machine photos are not applicable. There are also certain guidelines you must adhere to when taking your passport photographs. Also, starting February 1, 2008, the fee for passport application will go up to $100.
A passport is an important document if you plan to go out of the country. Additionally, it is a valid identification document. Getting one shouldn’t be too hard, but always keep in mind that all requirements should be met for a faster and more efficient passport processing. For more information regarding this article, read how to get a passport.