International Travel – Getting a Passport or Visa

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 19,036
    Travel Experts Betsy Sell & Tim Wilt discuss getting a passport or visa.

    Betsy Sell: Hello I am Betsy Sell with AAA Travel, and today we are discussing the basics of international travel. Let's talk about getting a US passport and visas.

    For most international travel US citizens need a US passport. It can take four to six weeks to process a passport, so be sure to plan far enough ahead, if you do not already have one. If you need a passport sooner than that, you can pay a fee for expediting the process, but that usually run $60.

    To get a US passport, you will need four things. The fee, $100 dollars for those 16 years and older and $85 for minors, the completed application form DS-11, two passport photos, proof of citizenship, and to prove US citizenship, you can use one of the following: A certified birth certificate issued by the city, county, or state, Consulate report of birth abroad or certification of birth, Naturalization Certificate, Certificate of Citizenship. And if you do not have one of these documents available, visit travel.


    gov for secondary evidence of identification. I will be referring to that site often, because you will find most of what you need there.

    First time applicants must appear in person at the Passport Acceptance Facility, and you can go to travel.


    gov to find the nearest facility, and also any forms you are going to need. Once you submit the copy of the documentation, two passport photos, the application and the current passport fees, you will also need to take an oath at the passport agency to swear that all the information is correct. If you just need to renew your passport, you can use the, renew by mail form DS-82, and the fee to renew is $75. Minors under age 21 cannot use this form.

    There are advantages just to using a third party services especially for emergency documents. These companies have a special relationship with the passport officers and the foreign consulates for expediting passport and visas for a fee, of course.

    AAA has a partnership with Travisa, for visa and passport services and AAA members get preferred rates on processing fees.

    And now here are few specifics about your first time application for a passport or renewal. Your two photographs must be identical and color, 2x2 inches in size, taken within the past six months, showing your current appearance, full face, front view with a plain white or off white background, between 1 inch and 1 3/8th inches from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head, taken in normal street attire. That means no uniforms accept religious attire there is worn daily. No hat or head gear that have secures the hair or hair line. If you normally wear the perception glasses, a hearing device, wig or similar articles, wear them for your picture.

    Dark glasses or nonperception glasses with tinted lenses are not acceptable, unless you need them for medical reasons. You may need a medical certificate for proof. Passport photos are available at many stores with photo services and at AAA travel offices.

    Other tips to help you with the passport application process: Use black ink when completing all application forms. Blue is accepted if it is dark enough to scan, but all applications with blue ink have been rejected. All children regardless of age must have their own passport. There are special requirements for minors.

    Children under 16 must apply in person with both parent guardians or follow Parental Consent Guidelines using form DS-3053. 16 and 17 year olds must establish Parental Consent. If minor children are traveling abroad with or without both parents and or guardians, a notarized letter of consent may be required.

    In an effort to keep your children safe while traveling internationally, many governments have initiated procedures at entry and exit points, including requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission of the parents or legal guardians, not present for the child to travel.

    Parents of minor children under 18 years old should carefully document legal custody prior to traveling abroad. For additional requirements for minors visit travel.



    And depending on your destination and length to travel, you may need a visa. The visa is the document that is issued by the embassy or the consulate of the country you wish to visit and it is placed inside your passport. It is a document that permits the passport holder entry into or transits through the country that issued the visa. Your travel agent can provide you with the information on weather you need a visa for your destination and how to obtain the appropriate visas. It is important to apply well in advance, as the time required to obtain a visa can vary.

    So that's the basics of obtaining passports and visas. Next I'll talk with you about how to obtain an international driving permit.