Applying for a Passport

I travel off and on for work-related conferences and meetings, and to date my travel to date has been entirely domestic. That being said, it’s not likely that I’ll be presented with the opportunity to travel overseas in the near future. Thus, I thought it was high time to get myself a passport. That’s right, I’m 35 years old, and I’ve never had a passport. In fact, I’ve never been anywhere outside the country except for Canada, Mexico, and a few random stops on a Caribbean cruise. While I’ve been meaning to get a passport for a couple of years now, I’ve never managed to just go do it. But other day I finally pulled the trigger.

The main reason I got off my butt and took care of this was that I needed to get a new ID card for work, and was presented with the opportunity to get passport photos for eight bucks at the same time. I jumped at the opportunity, headed back to my office to download and print the passport application forms (available from the State Department web site), and then headed to the Post Office a couple of days later to turn in the paperwork. Since this was a new passport application, I actually had to apply in person — depending on the circumstances, you can often renew your passport by mail.

The only real gotcha for getting a passport is that you need positive identification and some sort of proof of citizenship. In my case, this was certified copy of my birth certificate (complete with a raised seal). I nearly forgot this, but managed to show up at the Post Office with everything that I needed. The application process was totally painless. There’s a spot on the application where you need to sign in front of the clerk (so be sure not sign it before you show up).

In terms of cost, I wrote a $67 check to the US Department of State, and paid an additional $30 to the Postmaster for the privilege of applying at the Post Office. The most surprising thing to me was that they kept my birth certificate. Apparently this has to go in with the application (they must not trust the clerks) and it will be returned to me with my passport. The most disconcerting thing about this is that I won’t have a certified copy of my birth certificate for the next six to eight weeks. It’s not like I use it all that often, but I still don’t like having it out of my possession. To be fair, I could’ve paid an additional $60 for ‘rush’ service, in which case I would’ve received my passport within 15 days, but it just didn’t seem worth it.

4 Responses to “Applying for a Passport”

  1. Actually, you can only go to your local town hall to get a new birth certificate if you live near where you were born. I don’t. That being said, I’m not particularly worried about it not coming back. But if it doesn’t, it won’t be a simple trip downtown to get a new one.

  2. Anonymous

    I just got my passport back in May. Applied on 1 April, got my passport on 18 May – a litle over 6 weeks (normally it takes 8 weeks to get the passport back). I applied at the post office, they took the passport photos right there, and I had to turn in my original birth certificate with the application. Total cost was $112. I got my original birth certificate back with my passport – they will not process your application without the original birth certificate (they won’t accept a copy as it must have the inbedded seal on it) or naturalization certificate (for naturalized Americans). Don’t worry they send them back and on the off chance they lose it, you can go to your local town hall and get another original certificate with raised seal.

  3. Anonymous

    I never had a passport until I was 30 and needed one for work. I’ve used it a lot since, though, and I wish I had gotten one before! My first passport was stolen and had to be replaced at a consulate in France. I forget how much they charged for that…

  4. Anonymous

    I received my first passport in the mail two days ago, and thankfully my birth certificate was included with it. It was even more painless for me to apply; I filled out a form on the state department’s website, which created a PDF that had all of my information already filled in. The clerk at my town office took my passport photos for me.

    I was told that they do not take your birth certificate unless it is from out of state, but since I was born from away they had to send the birth certificate with my application. It took me about 3 and a half weeks to get it back, despite not paying for any rushes or anything of the sort. I was not expecting it for another two weeks at the earliest, but thankfully it showed up before this weekend since I am leaving for Canada. I know I will not really need it, but I feel much more comfortable for having it.

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