The Best Time to Buy a Passport

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Best Time Buy Passport

Time to Buy a Passport ~

Do you dream of traveling the world? Discovering different adventures in countries other than your own? It is fun to cruise the internet and search Pinterest for the perfect trip, price flights and find lodging ( or scope out camping opportunities abroad!), but that dream destination can never become a reality until you get your passport. Do you know the best time to buy a passport? I’m going to clue you in and give you some tips on buying your passport.

Spring Passport Fever

During the spring months many people start planning their vacations. They’ve been bit by the spring fever bug and are ready to explore. Because of this, the spring months are some of the busiest for passport offices. More passport applicants can equal a longer wait time for your passport to arrive. According to the U.S. Department of State, the government agency that issues US passports, routine processing time is 4-6 weeks. They even held Special Passport Acceptance Fairs across the United States this spring to beat the rush for summer passports.

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Slower Months

The slowest months for US passport offices are September -December. I thought people would be making last minute holiday travel plans and would be rushing to get their passports. That isn’t the case according to the Department of State. So I think the fall would be a good time to buy your passport. A passport would make a great Christmas present – of course the recipient would know they were receiving it since they have to apply themselves.

No Time Like the Present

Okay, we know spring is busy and fall is slow, but I haven’t told you when I think the best time to buy a passport is. Drumroll…….In my opinion, there is no time like the present. Even if you are not planning to take a trip this year, go ahead and get it now. If you have any dreams of traveling out of the country you should take this first step (well first other than saving your money). You never know when an unexpected opportunity to travel may arise. A few years ago, my son missed out on a chance to go to Canada’s Banff National Park with his uncle for nearly nothing because he didn’t have a passport. A passport is valid for 10 years so you don’t have to worry about it expiring right away.

Luggage and Passport

Need it Now

So what if you need your passport right away? Maybe a last minute chance to travel came your way or you procrastinated. Or perhaps you need one due to a family emergency. ( I hope not!) You can apply for an expedited passport, but be prepared to pay an extra $60.00 for delivery in 2-3 weeks. If it is a life or death emergency a passport agency can expedite your passport in days with proof of the emergency.

Gather Your Paperwork

There is nothing more frustrating than showing up at the passport office and getting turned away because you failed to bring the proper paperwork with you. You must submit one of the following and it must be an original or certified copy, along with a photocopy of it:

  • U.S. Birth Certificate
  • Consular Report of Birth Abroad or Certification of Birth
  • Certificate of Naturalization
  • Certificate of Citizenship

You must present one official form of ID and a photocopy of it:

  • In-state, fully valid driver’s license (if you present out of state ID, you must present a second ID), learner’s permit, non-driver ID or temporary driver’s license
  • Certificate of Naturalization
  • Certificate of Citizenship
  • Government employee ID
  • U.S. military or military dependent ID
  • Current, valid foreign passport
  • U.S. Permanent Green Card
  • Trusted Travelers ID

Passport Photo

You must also present a photo that meets their requirements. You can take your own, go somewhere and have a passport photo taken  (WalMart, CVS etc) or have it done at the passport acceptance facility that you apply at for an additional $15.00 if they offer that service.  If you decide to bring your own photo, be sure to check out their requirements and photo tips.

TIP:You can also print and fill out your passport application form at home and take it with you.

Passport Fees

First time applicants have to pay two fees – an application fee of $110.00 to the U.S. Department of State and a separate $35.00 acceptance/execution fee to the passport acceptance facility. Passport renewals are $85.00. I know that $145.00 can be a lot of money, but again, keep in mind it is valid for 10 years.

Where to Apply for a Passport

If you are applying for your first passport, you must apply in person at a passport agency or at a passport acceptance facility. Common acceptance facilities are post offices, libraries, and county clerk offices. The Department of State has a handy, online acceptance facility finder. Once you find a local facility, determine if an appointment is required. Appointments at post offices can usually be made online.

If you are renewing your passport , you can submit the application and fee by mail. The Department of State does not have the option to submit your passport application online.

Passport Application Status

Remember routine processing times are 4-6 weeks, but our experience was that it arrived in about 3 weeks. If you want to check the status of your application, you can call the National Passport Information Center at 1-877-487-2778 or the Online Passport Status System. It takes 7-10 business days for applications to be trackable online.

 

Moraine Lake, Banff National Park

Once you have that little blue book in hand, you are ready to start planning your international adventure! Where is the first place you want to go? Do you have a bucket list trip you can take now?

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