So you've decided its time to travel abroad - congratulations! One of the first things you must do is obtain a passport. Before you start dreaming of collecting stamps from all the great destinations you will travel to, you need to know the basics of where to begin, find out if you need visas, and make this process a smooth one.
Check out our guide to getting your passport ready before your trip of a lifetime!
Help! I've never gotten a passport before! Where do I start?
The first thing you need to do is complete an Application for Passport form provided by the Travel.gov website (otherwise known as a DS-11 Form.) Click here to download the form - you can fill it out by hand or using your Adobe Acrobat Reader!
Note - DON'T sign the form just yet! You need to do that in the presence of a government official!
Okay, I have my form filled out and I'm ready to go! What's next?
You'll need to gather a few things first and you will have to apply in person at either your local post office, Passport Day event, or search for a passport acceptance facility.
What else do I need to bring with me?
- A passport-sized photo - Many places like CVS Pharmacy, Walgreen's, Costco, and Sam's Club provide this service. Don't attach this to your application form!
- Evidence of U.S. citizenship - This is not to be confused with a form of ID like your driver's license. You'll need to bring one of these items with you:
- Previously issued, undamaged U.S. Passport
- Certified birth certificate issued by the city, county or state*
- Consular Report of Birth Abroad or Certification of Birth
- Naturalization certificate
- Certificate of Citizenship
- Previous issued, undamaged U.S. passport
- Naturalization Certificate
- Valid Driver's License
- Current Government ID (city, state or federal)
- Current Military ID (military and dependents)
That's a lot of forms! OK, I submitted my passport forms. Now what?
Depending on the processing times (which differ if you expedited the process), you should receive your shiny brand new passport, complete with your passport photo and all your information. Sign the passport to validate it and then find out if the destination you are traveling to require you to obtain an entry visa.