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Start your international trip at your local post office




Heading off on an international trip? Good for you! Just remember to start preparing for your trip early, and make your local post office your first portof call to get everything you need to obtain or renew your U.S. passport.

Here’s how you can start your international trip on the right foot.

• Get an application

This part is easy. You can pick up a Form DS-11, Application for Passport, at your local post office, or download the form off the Internet by going to www.usps.com/passport. The form and instructions tell you everything you need to get a passport.

In addition to Form DS-11, you will need to do the following:

• Present proof of identity

For most people, a valid permanent state driver’s license is all you need. If you don’t have one, a government ID, military ID or previous passport will suffice. A Social Security card is not proof of identity. You must present a document showing your signature and photo or physical description.

• Present proof of U.S. citizenship

You can use a previous passport, a certified birth certificate (with a raised, embossed, impressed or multicolored seal, the registrar’s signature, and the date the certificate was filed, which must have been within one year of your birth – photocopies are unacceptable), a Certificate of Citizenship, a Naturalization Certificate or a Consular Report of Birth Abroad or Certification of Birth.

• Passport photos

We can take your passport photo for you, or you can go to a photographer’s studio or camera shop. Make sure you get two 2- inch-by-2-inch identical color photos (Note: it takes a special camera to take twin photos). The pictures must have been taken within the last six months and show your current appearance, full face looking directly at the camera, in front of a white or offwhite background. In the photo, your face must measure between 1 inch and 1-3/8 inches from the bottom of your chin to the top of your head. Wear normal street attire, without a hat or headgear that obscures the hair or hairline. If you normally wear prescrip- tion glasses, a hearing device, wig or similar articles, they should be worn in the photos. Photos of you wearing dark glasses or nonprescription glasses with tinted lenses will not be accepted.

• Provide a Social Security number

If you do not provide your Social Security number, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) may impose a $500 penalty. If you have questions about this, please call your nearest IRS office.

• Pay the fees

For those 16 years of age and older, a new passport will be valid for 10 years from the date of issue except when limited by the Secretary of State. It costs $97 – $55 for passport processing, $30 for the execution of the application, and $12 for a security surcharge. People age 15 and younger get a passport valid for five years, except where limited, and pay $82 – $52 in processing fees and $30 for the execution of the application.The fee for renewing a passport is $67.

You may pay the passport fee by check, bank draft, cashier’s check or money order made payable to the U.S. Department of State. You can pay the application fee in cash or by debit or credit card, money order or check made payable to the Postal Service. Additional fees may also apply under special circumstances involving citizenship documentation.

One more thing – don’t sign the application form until the passport clerk tells you to do so! The passport clerk must witness you signing the form.

For more information, go to www.usps.com/passport. To find the closest post office or other government facility where you can apply for a passport, go to iafdb.travel.state.gov/.

There you have it – everything you need to know and have in hand to apply for a passport or passport renewal. And remember: If you start now, you’ll be that much closer to having a wonderful trip!


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