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All U.S. citizens, including children, are required to obtain passports in their own names for identification while traveling abroad and for re-entry into the United States. Unless specifically authorized by a passport issuing office, no person may have more than one valid, or potentially valid, U.S. passport of the same type at any one time. Following is a summary of the passport application process that was compiled from information provided by the U.S. State Department, which maintains a web site at http://travel.state.gov/passport_services.html.

You can download PDF versions of all applications at
http://travel.state.gov/download_applications.html.

First-Time Passport Applications
If you are applying for your first U.S. Passport, you must apply in person at one of over 3500 Clerks of Court or Post Offices which accept passport applications or at one of the regional Passport Agencies listed below. Call your county courthouse or the largest regional post office in your area or look under the blue pages of your phone book. You will need to provide the following documents:

1. Proof of United States citizenship or nationality such as: a certified copy of a birth certificate (one issued from a government office, not a hospital) for all applicants born in the US, a Certificate of Naturalization or Citizenship, or an expired US passport.

2. Proof of identity (photo ID with signature) such as a previous U.S. passport, a Certificate of Naturalization or Citizenship, a valid driver's license, or a valid government or military identification card.

3. Two identical passport photographs taken within the last six months. The photographs must be 2x2 inches with an image size between 1 and 1 3/8 inches. Photographs must be a front view, full face, taken in normal street attire without a hat or dark glasses, with a plain white background.

4. A completed passport application form DSP-11 which contains all the requested information except your signature. This form must be signed in the presence of an authorized executing official.

Passport Renewals
Applicants who have had a previous U.S. passport issued within the past 12 years, and who were 16 or older when the passport was issued, may be eligible to apply for a new passport by mail providing they can submit their passport and their name has not changed. They may also apply in person. Documents required for passport renewals include:

1. U.S. Passport

2. Two passport photos

3. A completed passport application form DSP-82 which contains all the requested information and is signed and dated. You can order an application form by calling the passport agency nearest you. Mail the completed application and attachments to:

National Passport Center
P.O. Box 371971
Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7971


If you are sending your renewal by overnight delivery other than the U.S. Postal Service, send it to:

Mellon Bank
Attn: Passport Supervisor, 371971
3 Mellon Bank Center, Rm 153-2723
Pittsburgh, PA 15259-0001


Your previous passport will be returned to you with your new passport.

Passport Fees
Passport fees for an initial ten-year passport are $60 if you are 16 years of age or over;, and $40 for a five-year passport if under 16. Note that the fee for a passport is written out as a check or money order to Passport Services for $45 & $15 to the county clerk's office, so you may need to bring two checks. Passport renewal fees are $40. Some local governments are now charging additional processing fees as well.

Time to Apply
Passport application processing time varies with passport agencies workloads. It is best to apply in the fall when workload volume is at its lowest. Processing time is normally about 3-4 weeks, but you should apply at least 4-6 weeks prior to any scheduled international travel. The spring and summer months are the busiest so the application process may take longer during these months.

Expedited Passports
If you are leaving on an emergency trip within five working days, apply in person at the nearest passport agency and present your tickets or travel itinerary from an airline, as well as the other required items. Or, mail your application overnight express mail and enclose a include a self-addressed, prepaid envelope for the overnight return of the passport, with a check made out to Passport Services and request for its return by overnight express mail. Be sure to include your dates of departure and travel plans on your application. Applications are processed according to the departure date indicated on the application form. If you give no departure date, the passport agency will assume you have no immediate travel plans. If you are leaving the country in less than 15 work days, enclose a $35 expediting fee (in addition to the overnight mail fee) and clearly mark the envelope "EXPEDITE."

Passport Security
When traveling abroad, carry your passport with you at all times in a safe place. It is a good idea to take a photo copy of your passport with you and keep it in a separate safe place along with copies of your credit cards, traveler's checks and plane tickets. If your passport is lost or stolen, U.S. embassies will usually accept this as proof that you're a U.S. citizen and can quickly issue you a temporary passport. It's also a good idea to leave a copy of your passport with someone at home in case of emergency.

Obtaining Additional Visa Pages
If you require additional visa pages before your passport expires, submit your passport with a signed request for extra pages to one of the passport agencies listed below. If you travel abroad frequently, you may request a 48-page passport at the time of application.

Changing Your Name
If your name has been changed, you may have your current, valid passport amended with this new name. To do so, mail your passport with your Court Order, Adoption Decree or Marriage Certificate showing your name change, and a completed passport application form DSP-19 to the Passport Agency nearest you. You must complete the application and sign it in your new name.

Invalid Countries
Currently, the U.S. Secretary of State has decreed the U.S. passport is not valid for travel to Libya and Iraq.

Passport Agencies
All have limited 24-hour recordings which include basic information about the passport agency location, hours of operation and information regarding emergency passport services during non-working hours. For additional information try the U. S Department of State's Passport Information web site: http://travel.state.gov/passport_services.html (click Passport Web button below).

You can also listen to automated recordings or talk to a live person by calling the new privately run passport information service at 900-225-5674. Callers will be charged 35 cents per minute for automated service which will explain what's in this document and $1.05 per minute to speak to a live person.

BOSTON Passport Agency
Thomas P. O'Neil Federal Building
10 Causeway Street, Suite 247
Boston, MA 02222-1094
(617) 878-0900
Region: Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Upstate New York, & Vermont

CHICAGO Passport Agency
Kluczynski Federal Building
230 S. Dearborn Street, Suite 380
Chicago, IL 60604-1564
(312) 341-6020
Region: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, & Wisconsin

CONNECTICUT Passport Agency
50 Washington Street
Norwalk, CT 06854
Region: Connecticut and Westchester County (New York)
Hours: 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m., local time, M-F, excluding Federal holidays
Automated Appointment Number: (203) 299-5443

HONOLULU Passport Agency
First Hawaiian Tower
1132 Bishop Street
Suite 500
Honolulu, HI 96813-2809
(808) 522-8283
Region: American Samoa, Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, Hawaii, & Northern Mariana Islands

HOUSTON Passport Agency
Mickey Leland Federal Building
1919 Smith Street
Suite 1100
Houston, TX 77002-8049
(713) 751-0294
Region: Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, & Texas

LOS ANGELES Passport Agency
Federal Building
11000 Wilshire Blvd.
Suite 13100
Los Angeles, CA 90024-3615
(310) 575-5700
Region: California (all counties South of an including San Luis Obispo, Kern and San Bernardino), and Nevada (Clark County only)

MIAMI Passport Agency
Claude Pepper Federal Office Building
51 SW First Avenue
3rd Floor
Miami, FL 33120-1680
(305) 539-3600
Region: Florida, Georgia, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, & U.S. Virgin Islands

NEW ORLEANS Passport Agency
Postal Services Building
701 Loyola Avenue
Suite T-12005
New Orleans, LA 70113-1931
(504) 412-2600
Region: Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, and Virginia (except D.C. suburbs)

NEW YORK
Court House
212-206-3500
60 Centre Street
New York, NY 10007

PHILADELPHIA Passport Agency
U.S. Custom House
200 Chestnut Street
Room 103
Philadelphia, PA 19106-2970
(215) 418-5937
Region: Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, & West Virginia

SAN FRANCISCO Passport Agency
95 Hawthorne Street
5th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 538-2700
Region: Arizona, California (all counties North of and including Monterey, Kings, Oulare, and Inyo), Nevada (except Clark Co.), & Utah

SEATTLE Passport Agency
Henry Jackson Federal Building
915 Second Avenue
Suite 992
Seattle, WA 98174-1091
(206) 808-5700
Region: Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington, & Wyoming

WASHINGTON Passport Agency
1111 19th Street, N.W.
Room 300
Washington, D.C. 20522-1705
(202) 647-0518
Region: Maryland, Northern Virginia (including Alexandria, Arlington County, and Fairfax County), and the District of Columbia

SPECIAL ISSUANCE Agency
1111 19th Street, N.W. Room 300
Washington, D.C. 20522-1705
Applications for Diplomatic, Official, and No-Fee passport

To find the closest passport acceptance facility to you, go to: http://visa.his.com/

Passport & Visa Expeditors
Should I Use an Expeditor?
If you are traveling to a country which requires a visa for entry and you are pressed for time, you may want to go through a visa or passport expeditor. The expeditor will go through the steps required to obtain the necessary documents with you, and submit them to the Embassy or Passport Office for you, sometimes even "walking" your documents to the appropriate office. There is, of course, a charge for these services.

Depending on your destination and time schedule, using an expeditor can be a wise decision. Despite the fact that you are paying for the service, often times the expeditors have negotiated a wholesale price, passing a discount along to you. Other times, particularly if you are not in a hurry, you'll be better off going through the process yourself.

What are the Fees?
Passports
A reasonable expeditor will charge a fee of roughly $35-$40 for passports processed within 9 days, and $50-$55 for those turned around within 3-8 days. This is in addition to the government fees, which are $60 for a new applicant, or $40 for a renewal. To have a visa expedited within 24 hours, you should expect to pay at least $95-$100 to the expeditor. Shipping fees are additional; and many sites will give you a discount if you are processing a passport and a visa application, or more than one of either.

Visas
Most visa expeditors will charge a service fee of $30-$50 to process a tourist visa, and slightly more, around $50-$60, to process a business visa, for normal processing. If you want it sooner, you can expect to pay double. These fees come in addition to consulate and shipping fees. Consulate fees vary greatly depending on your destination. The most expensive visas are to Russia and the former Soviet Union, China, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam.

Keep in mind that for a fee of $35 (in addition to the $60 cost for obtaining, or $40 for renewing) the
US Passport Service will process expedited passports within three working days.

Caveats, Precautions
Be sure to compare fees, to make sure you are getting the best deal. Some companies specialize in providing visas to certain countries, and will give you the best deal to those places in particular, but will have higher fees to other areas of the world.

Although many companies boast 24-hour service, be sure that it applies to you. Some expeditors require you to live in New York or Washington, DC.

Also, be careful to fill out all forms correctly! If you fail to provide the necessary information (for example travel to some areas of the former Soviet Union still require an invitation), your visa or passport will be denied and you will still have to pay the expeditor.

Be aware of hidden fees. If you are requesting 24-hour service, and your documents must be walked to the agency, some companies will charge as much as $30 an hour for "waiting fee" if there is a delay at the office.


 

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