How to Apply for Your First Passport

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 20,695
    Rich Mandleur explains how to apply for a passport for the first time at age 16.

    Rich Mandleur: Hi, my name is Rich and today we're going to be discussing how to apply for a passport? Let's get started with first time passport applications. In order to apply for a first time passport, you must meet the following criteria. You must be either 16 years of age or older. Your prior passport was issued 15 years or more ago. Your current passport is expired but not in your possession or if your current password is damaged. If your passport was lost or stolen, you will also need to apply for a new passport. The steps are essentially the same with the addition of a statement regarding the loss or the theft of a passport which will also need to be included with your application.

    The passport application process typically takes between six and eight weeks or possibly longer depending on the demand for passports currently. You can also choose to have your passport expedited. This process can be done as quickly as a day but typically takes no more than a week. In order to expedite your application if you are a traveling soon, you will need to pay the government expedite fee in addition to the government base fee for the passport application. You'll also need to submit a copy of your itinerary or copy of your tickets showing proof of international departure.

    In order to apply for a passport, you'll need to put together several pieces of supporting documentation in addition to the passport application. Passport applications are found online at the State Department's website or you could also use a passport expediter, such as ourselves who has linked directly to the State Department's website where the application can be found.

    The supporting documents you will need -- your passport or proof of citizenship, such as your birth certificate or a naturalization certificate. You will also need two passport photographs, a copy of your travel itinerary, a personal check made out to passport services, a letter of authorization and the passport application itself.

    Passport photographs are specific photographs that are taken for the express purpose of applying for a passport. They are 2x2 on a neutral background, the applicant should be positioned in full frontal view with no shadows or anything in the background. Hats, sunglasses or scarf should not be worn and applicant should also not appear in a military uniform or uniform of any kind.

    You can choose to take your passport photograph yourself, if you follow these specific guidelines which can be found on the State Department's website or there are also other options to have your passport photograph taken. You may want to try a local copy center for example. A letter authorization acts as a power of attorney, essentially the applicant is giving permission for the passport expediter to submit, collect and discuss the passport application on the applicant's behalf.

    If you are applying on your own you do not need a lot of authorization. If you are using a passport expediter, you will require a letter of authorization. The best form of proof of identification is driver license that is at least four months old. There are other forms of supplemental identifications that can be used to prove one's identity. For a complete list you can either see our website or consult the State Department's website.

    When apply for first time passport, there are two sets of fees to be considered. First there is the Application fee that is charged if an applicant is going to apply on their own and they have plenty of time. The passport agency will charge you fee of $75 to complete the first time passport application. If you were traveling and need your passport immediately and want to have your passport expedited then you will need to pay a fee of $160. The government in this case will charge you a fee of $100 as the base fee plus an expedite fee of $60, for a total of $160.

    The authorization process when applying for a passport is done after the applicant has completed the passport application as collected the supporting materials and will then visit what is called known as an Acceptance Agent. Acceptance Agents are typically found in a main branch post office or clerk of the court. Acceptance agent's responsibility is for verifying your identity, looking up through the documentation to make sure that the application has been correctly completed and that all the supporting documents are there. They will also administer an oath which the applicant will swear to and then sign and date the application. Once that is done the passport application and the supporting materials will be sealed inside of an envelope. Acceptance agent will then place time and date sensitive seals on the application itself. The application is then handed back to the applicant who then takes it to a passport expediter to have the passport issued in a time frame required.

    Passport expediter will collect the application from the applicant and then bring it to the U.

    S. Department of State and submit it to the Passport Services Division for processing. If you were using a Passport expediter, the application will be hand-delivered to the Passport Agency and collected as soon as the passport is issued. You can then choose either collect your passport in person or expediter can return it to you by overnight courier delivery. If you've chosen to apply on your own, the Passport Agency will mail your passport back to you when it is completed.

    Passport officers also begun issuing Passport cards. Passport cards are intended for travelers who for example, travel back and forth on a daily basis between the U.

    S. and Mexico. You may apply for your Passport Card simply by selecting to obtain one when you are applying for passport. Additional cost of the card itself is $20. The difference between a passport and a passport card is that passport can be used for all types of international travel, whether you travel by air, land or sea. Passport card itself can be used exclusively for land and sea travel within the Western Hemisphere or to Mexico, Canada, Bahamas and the Caribbean only.

    That completes the step by step process to apply for a first time passport. Next, we'll begin discussing how to apply for a passport, if you are a minor?