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Applying for a passport

Wednesday, December 1, 2010 - 5:12pm

US passportI'm traveling to Mexico with my daughters later this month. Exciting! Yes. However, I was blindsided a couple of weeks ago when I opened up my five-year-old daughter's passport to see that it had expired on June 10th! To make matters worse, I turned my house upside down looking for her birth certificate, and couldn't find it anywhere. After a momentary freak-out, I ordered her birth certificate online, had it expedited for an absurd amount of money, and took a deep breath, realizing that I could just expedite her passport as well, and everything would work out in the end. I'm happy to say that it will. Maya's birth certificate arrived three days later, her daddy and I went in to renew her passport the same day, and we got the book in the mail seven days after that. Paying the extra $60 to expedite it was worth it, if only for the peace of mind factor.

Get your passport before the fees go up

If you're traveling in the next few months, or your passport is going to expire soon, you might want to think about heading to your local post office and applying for or renewing your passport this week. Why now, you ask? Passport fees are increasing significantly on July 13th.

  • Adult passport books are going up by $35, from $100 to $135.
  • Adult passport book renewals are also going up by $35, from $75 to $110.
  • Minor passport books are going up by $20, from $85 to $100.
  • Adult passport cards are going up by $10, from $45 to $55.
  • Minor passport cards are going up by $5, from $35 to $40.

If you're getting passports for the entire family, these new fees can really add up! The prices may seem exorbitant, but it's all due to the fact that passports are a lot more expensive to make than they used to be. The books' cover is better quality, the inside pages are prettier, but more importantly, the passports have an embedded electronic chip and additional security features, which makes them safer.

Tips for applying for a passport:

  • Fill out the form ahead of time. As much as you can, anyway. You can pick up a passport application at your nearest passport acceptance facility, usually your post office, or download the forms and print at home. Follow the instructions carefully.
  • Gather all the documents you need. Proof of citizenship (like a birth certificate) and proof of identity (like a driver's license). You'll need your Social Security number as well, so have your card at hand if you don't have the number memorized.
  • Make a photocopy of your identification. This can usually be done at the post office, but doing it yourself will save you time, in the case that they don't have a photocopier available.
  • Get your passport photos taken at your local drugstore's photo counter. CVS, Walgreens, and Rite-Aid all offer passport photo services at reasonable prices. If you prefer to get the photos taken at the post office, be prepared to pay much, much more for them.
  • If you're applying for a passport for a minor, both parents and the child must appear in person!

For more information, please visit travel.state.gov/passport. Wishing you safe travels this summer!

Mariana Perez blogs about life as a stay-at-home mom to two beautiful little girls over at Riding With No Hands. Follow her daily adventures on Twitter @ohMariana.

Photo credit: Allie Serrato on Flickr

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