Like most things in this pandemic, getting a new passport requires a lot of patience and planning ahead (at least 3 months). Well, my daughter and I decided that if we send off our passports in February and expedite them, we should get them within the time frame of 4-6 weeks, right? Oh, but wait now, let’s add the fact that while trying to be organized a while ago I laminated a lot of our important papers including our birth certificates in order to keep them from getting lost and faded. So, I turned those into the passport department, and the clerk did state that the department might not accept the birth certificates because they were laminated but we had faith.
By the way, my daughter, her best friend, and I are going on a girl’s trip to Tulum, Mexico in April 2021. So, you see the timeline here with the passports? I wanted to show you all the steps that we took to get our passports as first-timers and to tell you to PLAN AHEAD.
Step 1: Gather Documents Early
Apply for your passport several months before your trip. First-time applicants, minors, and applicants who need a new passport but may not renew by mail may submit their passport application at the Post Office. The U.S. State Department website explains what you will need to bring with you.
• Application forms (unsigned)
• Proof of identity document and a photocopy of the front and back
• Proof of U.S. Citizenship document and a photocopy of the front and back (Birth Certificate )
Step 2: Prepare Your Application Package
Visit the U.S. Department of State website to learn how to apply for a passport and what documents you need.
1. Complete your Form DS-11 Application for U.S. Passport on the State Department website. https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/how-apply/forms.html
2. Print your completed application.
DO NOT SIGN YOUR APPLICATION. A Postal employee must witness your signature.
3. Have a passport photo taken.
4. Photocopy your proof of identity and U.S. Citizenship documents.
5. Calculate your fees.
• Post Offices accept credit cards, checks, and money orders for Post Office acceptance fees.
• State Department fees are mailed with your application. You can pay with a personal, certified, cashier’s, traveler’s check, or money order, payable to “U.S. Department of State.”
Step 3: Schedule an Appointment
Post Offices that offer passport services have set hours, and you will need to schedule an appointment using the online Retail Customer Appointment Scheduler or a Post Office lobby self-service kiosk.
1. Go to Schedule an Appointment.
2. Choose the passport service you need, along with the number of adults and minors who need appointments.
3. You can search for an appointment by location or date first. If you search by location first, you will then be asked to choose a date and time; if you search by date first, you’ll then need to choose a location and time.
4. After you choose your appointment location and time, provide your contact information and agree to the Terms and Conditions.
5. Click Review Appointment, then confirm your appointment.
If you need to modify or cancel your appointment, click the Manage Appointments tab and enter your confirmation number and email address or phone number.
Using a Self-Service Kiosk
1. Go to a Post Office location with lobby self-service kiosks. Find USPS Locations
2. At the self-service kiosk, touch the screen to begin, then select “Other Services,” then “Passport Scheduler.”
3. Choose the passport service you need, then enter the number of adults and minors who need appointments.
4. Search for Post Office locations by ZIP Code™ or City/State and choose a location.
5. Select an available appointment date and time, then agree to the Terms and Conditions.
6. Enter your contact information and decide if you’d like to receive SMS text notifications.
7. Review and confirm your information, then select “Schedule Appointment” to finalize.
8. Take your printed receipt listing your confirmation number and appointment details.
Step 4: Pay Passport Acceptance & Processing Fees
First-time passport applications have two types of basic fees, the application acceptance fee, and the application processing fee. Passport photos and fees for faster processing are extra.
Application Processing Fees – Department of State
State Department payment is sent with your application package. State Department fees are paid separately from USPS fees.
• State Department Fees
State Department passport fees vary. Calculate passport fees online.
• State Department Payment Methods
NOTE: You may not pay State Department fees with credit or debit cards. You may pay with:
• Personal, certified, cashier’s, or traveler’s check, payable to “U.S. Department of State.”
• Money order payable to “U.S. Department of State.” You may purchase a money order at the Post Office with a debit card.
After you go through this process, all you have to do next is wait and check your passport status as time goes by. I hope this article has helped you and I wish you all happy travels.