What to Know about Passports & Visas
Traveling to a foreign country is absolutely exhilarating! New sights, smells, sounds! Ah, can you just imagine?! While there are a million important things to remember (like bringing your favorite shoes), there is nothing more important than your ticket to and from home – aka your passport.
- How do you apply for a U.S. Passport?
- Fill out an application form. This can be found online at travel.state.gov or at a U.S. Post Office.
- Bring necessary documents. Depending on if you are getting a passport for the first time, changing a name, or renewing a passport, you will need a form of identification, citizenship evidence, and proof of relationship (for children under 16).
- Take a passport photo. This needs to be taken with specific dimensions. It cannot be a selfie from your cell phone! Places such as some U.S. Post Offices, Walmart, Costco, or your local Walgreens have the proper equipment.
- Pay the fee
- Submit and wait for your passport to arrive in the mail!
- Where do you apply for a U.S. Passport?
- You can apply at most U.S. Postal Offices, a company that specializes in passports, or online. However, before you just decide to show up at your desired location, make sure you schedule an appointment ahead of time. Most places require this.
Did You Know…
- Take at least 2 photocopies of your passport. Leave one with a trusted friend or family member. You take the other copy with you.
- It is strongly recommended that you carry your own photocopy with you, NOT the actual passport when you are out sightseeing. It is highly recommended that you leave your passport locked in a safe in your hotel room. This ensures that no one will pickpocket you on your sight-seeing tours and that you won’t leave it behind somewhere.
- Know where the US Embassy is located. If for some reason you have misplaced your passport, you will want to go to the U.S. Embassy as soon as it opens. Bring the photocopy of your passport (which you should have with you). While you may get a passport, it is often only temporary and lasts 1 year. So not only would you have to pay a good chunk of change to get it expedited, you will also have to pay for another new passport in a year’s time. In other words, don’t lose your passport!
- Know your resources. Check out travel.state.gov and usembassy.gov. Or contact a local company such as The Travel Broker who specializes in expediting passports and visas.
The Travel Broker
- Make sure your passport is valid for at least 6 months after arriving back home. Also make sure that there are at least 4 blank pages within your passport. To find out your exact requirements for your travel itinerary, please see travel.state.gov and usembassy.gov.
Visa: Did you know that “technically” you need a visa for every foreign country you visit? While some countries require you to obtain a visa months or weeks in advance of your departure, some countries give you your visa upon arrival. See travel.state.gov for more information.