What is needed to get a passport?
The first step to becoming an international traveler is getting your US passport. Unless you’re planning to visit other countries on a closed-loop cruise or fly overseas to US territories like Guam, then a passport book is probably the best option for you. When that time comes, there are a variety of ways to get that document in your hand and ready to go, from applying in person at a regional passport office, or through a trusted third-party agency like Travel Visa Pro.
Getting a passport in person
Where you’re living is probably the most important factor when it comes time to apply for a passport. Are you based in or near a major city? Then there may be more options to apply for a passport in person. There are 26 regional passport agencies in the United States available – some by appointment only – and US embassies or consulates for Americans living abroad.
When applying for a passport in person, check whether you need to make an appointment and gather all the paperwork you’ll need: a photo ID, proof of US citizenship, Form DS-11 for first-time passport applicants, a passport-sized photo, and applicable fees, usually payable by check or money order. Applying in person is best if your flight departs in under a few weeks’ time; you can show a copy of your itinerary to agency staff so they can determine the appropriate processing time. Expedited service is also available for an additional $60.
Getting a passport by mail
Even if you’re not able to visit a regional passport agency or Travel Visa Pro in person, some applications can be accepted by mail or dropped off a nearby TVP pick up and drop off location. Unfortunately, there is no way to apply for a passport for the first time through the mail without the assistance of a third-party agency like Travel Visa Pro.
Typically, passport applications by mail directly to the Department of State are used for renewals and updates, with the former often taking several weeks for processing. However, with the proper authorization forms, Travel Visa Pro can apply for a first-time passport on your behalf, getting your application in quickly and returned based on your needs.
This approach is very useful for first-time passport applicants who live considerably far from a regional passport agency and do not have the time to travel there for a short appointment. Mailing a copy of your photo ID, a copy of your birth or naturalization certificate, a passport-size photo, Form DS-11 for first-time applicants, and two authorization forms to the nearest TVP location can get you your first passport from the comfort of your own home.
Which type of passport should I get the first time?
Which is best for your travels: a passport book, or a passport card? Passport books are acceptable for all countries, though some require visas obtained in advance. Passport cards are valid for land and air travel to countries like Mexico and Canada, and are generally cheaper and easier to carry.
When in doubt, there’s no harm carrying both. Any US citizen may, at any time, hold both a passport book and card depending on their travel needs – and even carry an additional four-year passport book!
What else is needed to get a passport?
Bring yourself, your documents, and payment to a regional passport agency. Navigating the bureaucracy of passport applications for the first time can be a bit of a hassle, which is why third-party agencies like Travel Visa Pro exist.
Wouldn’t you rather have someone look through your forms to check for any mistakes or incomplete information? Anything missing can potentially mean a delay of days, if not weeks.
Travel Visa Pro has been helping US citizens get passports for over ten years, and can also take passport photos on site, provide recommendations for travel insurance, register your trip abroad, and facilitate visa applications. With offices all over the country and pick up and drop off locations in your area, TVP has the experts you need when it comes time to get your first passport.
Do you have any questions about what you need to get a passport? Leave them in the comments!