Today we had a frustrating encounter…we applied for passports. Grandbaby #11 is due in the spring so we’ll be headed to Japan for a visit. We learned a few things along the way and to save someone the aggravation that we experienced, I thought I’d share how to obtain a passport in simple terms.
1. Skip the government website.
In an attempt to be prepared, I went to the government website. I have noticed that government websites are notorious for inaccurate information and prices (think Obamacare.)
2. Gather your official documents.
You will need to take along photo ID – a driver’s license works well. Photocopy both sides and take the original. Take your birth certificate, the REAL one from the department of vital statistics. Make sure you know where you were born, your parent’s full names, the date and place of their birth and your mother’s maiden name. If you have ever had a passport before, even if it is expired, you will need that too. Unless it is “lost” – in which case you will need to (you guessed it) fill out another form.
(By the way, they KEEP your birth certificate… they said it will be returned, separately from the passport.)
Even though the website says you can take your own photo, you can’t…so save yourself the frustration and pay to have one taken. AAA charges $8.49 for members. Rite Aid and CVS will also take them and often have on-line coupons.
4. Head to the post office…BEFORE 3 pm!!
You can get an application at your local post office or the courthouse. But going to the post office doesn’t require removing your belt, jewelry and emptying your pockets. The post office has applications and they also sell money orders, which you will need to the tune of $110. Make sure you arrive early in the day because the post office does not process applications after 3 pm. Don’t forget your black ink pen and an additional $25 for the processing fee.
There is a place that asks your destination and date of travel. A helpful lady at the courthouse told us to fill out this section even if we didn’t yet know a date. She picked a date 6-7 weeks in the future, telling us that applications with dates get processed faster.
That’s about it… hopefully, we’ll get a passport in 4-6 weeks AND get our birth certificates back!