Getting a passport is not something that everyone considers. This is a mistake as a passport is great to have even if the person never leaves the United States. It is one of the most powerful personal identification documents that can ever be had and because of the length it takes to obtain one, it is best to have it just in case. Before heading to the local passport office, make sure you know the current US passport requirements.
It is now a requirement that all first time applicants apply in person to receive their first official travel documents. For the majority of US citizens, this means a trip to the local post office. In addition, there are some other factors that necessitate an in-person application. These include: any child under 16, replacing a stolen or lost document, a name change without documentation to support it, or renewing a document that is over 15 years old.
The first form that will have to be filled out by everyone is the DS-11. There are also quite a few secondary documents that must be presented to the clerk. The clerk will need to check the ID that is presented and actually witness the signature on the application. The forms can be filled out ahead of time, but nothing can be signed until the applicant is in front of the passport agent.
One of the documents that are required is proof of citizenship. For many people, this is just their birth certificate. If the applicant is an immigrant, they will need their official immigration and naturalization papers. These documents are a must and nothing will be processed unless they are present.
Anyone that has had their passport laminated for protection will have to get another one. This is absolutely forbidden and basically makes the birth certificate useless. The agent must also be able to see the raised stamp on the birth certificate. If that stamp in not present, they will send the applicant on their way to get another one. Everything will also have to be photocopied prior to arriving at the passport office.
If the person seeking the passport document is a minor, there are some additional requirements that must be followed. The young person’s proof of citizenship must accompany him or her, and both parents or guardians must be with the child at the in person visit. If only one adult has legal custody then the non-custodial birth parent does not have to be there.
The parent or parents that are with the child will also have to have the appropriate ID in order for the minor’s application to be accepted. Everything will be checked, so make sure that everything is valid and current. The best bet is to bring their current passport as it is the be all and end all of documentation. Also, 2 passport photos must be presented with all of the documentation for the applicant.
One of the reasons that acquiring a passport takes so long is because of the all of the documents that are needed to get approved. Sometimes a birth certificate cannot be found and a new one must be ordered. It is unlikely that current passport photos are lying around and this means another trip. However, as long as all U S passport requirements are met and the photos are current (within 6 months), everything should go smoothly at the American passport office.