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Passport Card Process Overview:
Gone are the days of driving up to the Canadian or Mexican border and entering the country without a valid United States Passport. The terrorist attacks on 9/11 caused many changes to the laws related to international travel. Now, travelers need to have a valid United States passport to travel to countries that did not require them previously.
In 2008, the United States Department of State began issuing passport cards. These passport cards are about the same size as a credit card, and they include RFID (radio frequency identification) capabilities that facilitate quicker service at border crossings. They can easily fit into a wallet, and they are cheaper than the traditional passport books.
Those who are planning to travel to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean or Bermuda will find the passport card to be a great alternative to the passport book. Those traveling outside of North America or the Caribbean are required to have a passport book, so there is no option for these people. Another important thing to remember about passport cards is that they cannot be used when entering a foreign country by air. Only those who are entering Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean or Bermuda via a land route or a seaport can use the passport card. Those traveling by air must have a passport book.
There are many required documents when applying for a first-time passport. It is imperative you have all these documents to have the successful issuance of your new passport.
- The primary form of identification: Preferably a valid US Driver’s license that has been issued more than 6 months from present date. Other acceptable forms of identification include valid government ID, naturalization certificate, or previous passport book.
- One passport photo (2” x 2”)
- Proof of US citizenship: These include either an original US birth certificate, certified copy of US birth certificate, original naturalization certificate, or a previously issued US passport.
- DS-11 form: This form must be signed and dated by the applicant, in front of a federal official at an authorized passport acceptance facility.
- Proof of international travel should you need an expedited passport within the next 2 weeks or 30 days if a visa is required.
- Passport Card only: Application fee ($30) and acceptance agency fee ($25) = $55.
- Passport Book and Card: Application fee ($140) and acceptance agency fee ($25) = $165.
- Passport Card (Minor): Application fee ($15) and acceptance agency fee ($25) = $40.
- Passport Book and Card (Minor): Application fee ($95) and acceptance agency fee ($25) = $120.
- Expedited service at an acceptance agency or regional passport agency, an extra $60 is required.
Complete The DS-11 New Passport Application:
There are two options when trying to complete the new passport application form. You can complete the ds-11 form online with the state departments website and use the online passport wizard to create a 2D barcode application form or download a hard copy of the ds-11 application form and hand write in your information. It is advisable to go with the online passport application wizard as this may speed up your passport application
- Option 1: Complete the DS-11 application form online
- Option 2: Complete the DS-11 application form by hand
Where to Apply:
There are many options where to apply for your new passport depending on how fast you need the passport back in your possession. If you are not traveling soon the place to go to is your local post office, county clerk or library. They are called acceptance agencies and offer routine service 4-8 week processing as well as expedited processing to speed things up a bit in 2-4 weeks depending on the time of year. If you are traveling within the next 30 days internationally you might want to visit a regional passport agency or use a 3rd party registered courier service to secure the passport much faster
- Option 1: Traveling after 30 days use post office, county clerk or public library
- Option 2: Traveling within 30 days use a regional passport agency or registered passport courier.
Q: What if my drivers license has just been issued?
A: Drivers license and a non-drivers identification need to be issued for more than 6 months in order to be accepted as primary identification. Should this be a newly issued driver’s license you will want to submit as much supplemental identification as possible. Please visit our identification page to learn more about this topic.
Q: What if I cannot locate my birth certificate?
A: Having your birth certificate is vital to having your new passport. If you cannot find your birth certificate or only have the short form birth certificate, visit our proof of citizenship page to help you find more information on this topic.
Q: Do I need to schedule an appointment to get a new passport?
A: You will need an appointment for all new passport applications when you appear at your local passport acceptance agency. You are also required to have a passport appointment to visit any regional passport agency if you are traveling in the next 14 days.