Visiting another country is an experience I think everyone should have at least once. Getting to observe or participate in other cultures first hand can broaden your mind and give you a better awareness of the world around you. It can be great fun, too! The first step to make this happen is to get a passport.
Passports are issued to citizens of a country to allow them to leave and re-enter that country. Also, the Real ID Act becomes effective Jan 22, 2018, and at that time, depending on your state, driver’s licenses may not be adequate identification for domestic air travel (Kansas driver’s licenses are compliant, Kansas Real IDs). Passports are also a good form of identification if you lose your driver’s license or other ID.
If this is your first passport, you will need to apply in person, however renewals can be done online or by mail. Here are the basic steps:
- Most people will need to submit form DS-11, including children and infants.
- You’ll need evidence of citizenship, which can be an original or certified copy of your birth certificate. If that’s not possible, two forms of secondary evidence can be provided. You will also need photocopies of them to attach to your form.
- You must provide a 2X2” color photo of your face taken within the last six months.
- Current fees for adults (16 and older) are a $110 application fee plus a $25 execution fee. For children under 16, it’s an $80 application fee plus a $25 execution fee. You can pay with cash, money order, check or credit or debit card.
- Submit your application at the nearest acceptance facility. These are generally places like post offices and some government offices.
Generally it takes 4 to 6 weeks to receive your passport, but there are provisions for expediting the process if needed.
If you’re taking a cruise, you may be able to get by with a government issued ID (like a driver’s license) and your birth certificate, especially if it’s a closed-loop cruise. However, you will need a passport if there is an emergency so travel experts recommend you bring one.
Passport cards are very similar to the passport books. The main difference is they can’t be used for international air travel. The application process is the same but the fees are cheaper. They can be used on cruises, depending on your destinations, but again, if there’s an emergency and you need to fly home unexpectedly, a passport book is the fastest and easiest way.
Check out the US State Department’s Travel website for more information.
Now start planning your trip!