Deciding to apply for your first US passport is a wonderful first step in becoming an international traveler. Unless you’re planning to visit Guam, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, or any number of US territories, you’re going to need a valid travel document. When that happens, there are nine Travel Visa Pro staffed offices across the country ready to facilitate in processing your passport application. Even if you’re not able to visit one of them in person, applications can be accepted by mail or dropped off a nearby pick up and drop off location. Don’t forget to check our expedited passport services here.
Types of passports for adults
Do you know the difference between a passport book and card? Passport cards are cheaper and more compact, but are every bit as valid as books for travel to certain countries by land or sea (never by air): Mexico, Canada, and a few island nations in the Caribbean. Passport books are acceptable in all countries which haven’t explicitly banned US citizens, though many do require a visa prior to entry or on arrival.
Adults over the age of sixteen are issued 10-year passport books and cards by the US department of state, with the option to hold both concurrently or even apply for a second four-year passport book. In addition, there are always special cases like diplomatic passports, and emergency ones issued abroad.
How to apply for a passport in person
Once you’ve decided which type of passport is right for you, think about how long you have before your flight and where in the US you currently live. Are you based in northern Idaho, or downtown Manhattan? Those seeking their first passports must apply at one of the 26 regional passport agencies in the United States or any US embassy or consulate abroad. There are exceptions (see next section).
When applying for a passport in person, you usually need an appointment at a regional passport agency and all the paperwork gathered in advance: proof of US citizenship, photo ID, Form DS-11, a passport photo, and fees. In addition, if your trip is set to begin in under two weeks, it’s a good idea to present the staff with a copy of your travel plans so they can process your passport application in time. Expedited service is available for $60.
How to apply for a passport by mail
There is no way to apply for a passport for the first time by mail without the assistance of a third party like Travel Visa Pro. Though mail-in applications for passport renewals may take several weeks, Travel Visa Pro gives you step-by-step instructions to get your application in quickly and specify exactly when you need it returned.
This means that should you live in the middle of nowhere and have no desire to make an appointment several hours away at the nearest regional passport agency, you don’t have to; mailing a copy of your proof of citizenship, a copy of your photo ID, passport photo, and Form DS-11 can get you your first passport from the comfort of home. All Travel Visa Pro needs to process this application in addition to the aforementioned documents is two letters of authorization showing we are acting on your behalf.
What else do I need to know?
Any mistakes or incomplete information on your application can mean it will be returned and cost someone a few days’ delay, if not more. Though this is less likely when making an appointment at a regional passport agency, there is still a lot of information to unravel for first-time applicants. Wouldn’t you rather go to a trusted source for your visa and passport applications?
Travel Visa Pro has been helping Americans obtain passports in a hurry for over ten years, and can also facilitate visa applications, passport photos, travel insurance, and trip registration. With offices all over the country and pick up and drop off locations in your area, we are the experts you need when it comes time to prepare for an international trip.