What do I need to get a passport?What do I need to get a passport?

If you’re going outside of the United States for Spring Break, you’re going to need a passport.  If you’re going to Mexico, you need a passport especially if you’re flying. If you are driving or walking into the country, the Mexican authorities may let you pass with just an ID or a driver’s license, but you may have a difficult time coming back into the United States, So, bring a passport just in case.

If you don’t have a passport, remember that it can take 4-6 weeks for your passport to make it to your mailbox. So, you should apply for one ASAP so that your Spring Break trip doesn’t leave you behind. Here are some quick and simple instructions on how to get a passport.

STEP 1: Getting a passport

To receive your U.S. passport, you will either fill out the DS-11 form or the DS-82 form. Here is how to know which form you need.

Take a look at the criteria below. If none of them apply to you, you’re going to need the DS-82 form, and if you need a DS-82 form, lucky you, you can complete this form online and apply for a passport by mail. Here is a link to the DS-82 form.

If you need the DS-11 form, you’re going to have to apply IN PERSON and do a few more things. You will need the DS-11 form if you:

  • never had a passport
  • haven’t renewed yours in over 15 years
  • had your passport lost or stolen

If the above criterion apply to you, you will need to complete the DS-11 Form. You can get the DS-11 form here. After you fill it out, this is what you’ll have to do.

STEP 2: What you need to get a passport

After you get the DS-11 form, you need at least one of these forms of identification:

  • Valid Driver’s License
  • Current Government ID
  • Current Military ID
  • Naturalization Certificate (green card,/alien card, etc.)

If you don’t have any of these forms, you will need to bring as many forms of ID as possible such as a:

  • Social Security Card
  • Birth Certificate
  • Credit Card
  • Library Card
  • Employee ID

If you are unsure whether or not you have enough forms of ID, try to find one with your picture on it and one that includes your address along with another piece of identification. They do not require a specific amount of identification, but the more you bring, the safer you’ll be.

STEP 3: Photocopies

Now that you’ve gathered those very important pieces of information, you need to make a photocopy of all the documents because they’re going to ask for them. Make sure they are on a white 8 ½ x 11 piece of paper and that the copies are easily readable.

STEP 4: Where to get passport photos

When you have completed the DS-11 form, and gathered all of your photocopied documents, it’s picture time. More than likely, the place where you have to drop off your form and documents (called an “acceptance facility”) will have a photographer ready to snap your picture. But, you can save some money by simply going to a Walgreens, Kinkos or Walmart to take your passport photo.

STEP 5: Pay for the Passport

Now, gather everything: the DS-11 form, your documents and the photocopies, the passport photo and head over to an acceptance facility. You can find an acceptance facility near you by going here.

While you’re there, pay the fees for either the passport card, the passport book or the card and book. Whats the difference between the book and the card?  The passport book is your regular standard issue passport.  The passport card is a new wallet-sized passport you can purchase if you don’t want to lug around the larger passport book. Here’s a list of prices for both passport types as of February 2011:

  • Adult Passport book and card:

$140 (application fee)

+    $25 (execution fee)

$165.00 Total Amount

  • Adult Passport book and NO card:

$110 (application fee)

+  $25 (execution fee)

$135.00 Total Amount

  • Adult card only (if you did not previously have a passport book or card):

$30 (application fee)

+ $25 (execution fee)

$55.00 Total Amount

Kaplow! You did it. Now, it’s time to play the waiting game (4-6 weeks).  You can also go online to check on your passport status by going here.