Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Monday, March 23, 2009
This past Thursday, I received a mailer from the post office stating that their Passport Team would be in my area on Saturday as part of a passport sign-up fair. Axl has traveled to a lot of places outside of the U.S. and his stories and his desire to go back to some of these places are a frequent topic of conversation for us. Applying for my passport has been on my “To Do” list for quite some time now so I scurried to pull together everything I would need to attend the fair. First off, I would need my birth certificate. I had to call my mom for this one since I knew I didn't have it. It took a few hours but Mom finally remembered where she'd put it and I could check "Birth Certificate" off the list. You need your birth certificate to prove you are a U.S. citizen. Second, you take your current driver’s license with you as proof of identity. Then, you take two recent, identical, color photographs of yourself. Some post offices offer this service, as mine did, but it costs $15.00. My local CVS drugstore offers the service for $7.99 and you get six photos. So, off to CVS I went where I took the most hideous photo of myself ever. No joke! The woman who took my picture could have done me the courtesy of giving me another shot but c'est la vie, I guess. I would recommend going to have your picture taken when you are better rested than I was Friday afternoon! The post office has a little machine that cuts your photo to the required 2” x 2” size so don’t worry about that. Finally, you cough up your fees. This site can tell you what the current fees are. For me, there was a $25.00 acceptance fee that goes to the post office and a $75.00 fee that goes to the U.S. Department of State for the passport itself. According to people I know who already have their passport, the price has gone up so get cracking if you want to get yours before the price goes up any more (not that I’ve heard it will, but it might). Be aware that the U.S. Department of State only takes specific forms of payment (i.e. checks (personal, certified, traveler’s), major credit card, etc.) Once you have all these things together, you will need a passport application form. Most post offices have these on their desk for your convenience. I would recommend getting one ahead of time, filling it out at home and taking it with you the day you apply for your passport. Especially, if you attend a passport fair. I had a form at home that I'd picked up on a previous visit to the post office but I wasn’t sure it was current so I waited to get one at the fair. Ugh. As I filled it out, the line ahead of me grew substantially. I had no idea so many people would want to sign up for their passport or passport renewal. Whole families were in line. The most pleasing and surprising thing was that everyone was nice to one another. There was a line out the door and it took at least an hour of standing in line to get to the window but folks were patient and considerate of one another as we all trotted through the process of presenting our papers, forms, and pictures. When you get to the window, a post office representative reviews your information and documentation with you and has you declare verbally that what you have presented is true and correct and then you sign your application form in front of them (Don’t sign it beforehand or you will have to fill out a new one!), they collect your fees, inform you that your birth certificate will be returned to you by mail and send you on your way with an estimate of when to expect your passport. This, of course, is the condensed and personal experience version of what will happen if and when you apply for your passport so for more details read your passport application form thoroughly and/or go to the United States postal service website.