Travel.State.Gov & U.S. Passport Services
Individuals traveling outside of the United States must have a valid passport to enter other countries, even Canada and Mexico, despite being located on the same continent. This document is also required for individuals entering the country from other countries for travel purposes. This document, which contains a photo identification, also states the name and nationality of the person in question. The process of applying for a passport can be complicated, and can sometimes take a few months for processing purposes, but thereafter, it is just a matter of renewing the document, which is a decidedly less complex procedure.
Travel.State.Gov & Applying In/Out of the U.S.
Those in need of a passport – or in need of a renewal – can do so online through the travel state gov website – or through any number of other official portals online. However, it should be noted that when applying for a passport when you are physically outside of the country is much different than applying for a passport when you are stateside. Outside of the U.S., you need to go through your specific consulate or embassy and each has its own procedure for administering passports to get to the states. It is also prudent to keep in mind that if you are outside of the country, chances are, you won’t be able to expedite processing to get a passport quickly, as the document must be printed in the U.S. and then shipped to your specific embassy.
However, if you are submitting a passport application while in the U.S., you can do so through a “Passport Application Acceptance Facility” in your local area. If you are leaving the country sooner than two weeks, you may need to schedule an in-person appointment at a passport agency – of which there are just 24 in the country. Individuals under the age of 16 and in need of a passport for any reason must submit an application in person and even babies need their own passports by traveling by air to another country.
As an aside, if you are behind on child support or have other federal debt, you may not be eligible for a passport until you clear up the matter.
Fees for a passport depend on the type of passport and any extras that might be necessary to accompany the document. For example, the application fee for an adult passport book and card is $140, as of 2012. A renewal for a passport card alone is just $30, as of 2012.
In terms of passport renewal, you can generally do so via mail if you receive the passport within the last 15 years, were at least 16 when you were issued the document and as long as it has your most current legal name. To do so, you need to fill out Form DS-82, which is the specific application for a passport renewed via mail. Your address must reside in the U.S. or Canada to renew via mail, otherwise you are not eligible for this option. If you don’t meet the aforementioned criteria, you will need to renew in person; you also need to apply in person if your current passport has been damaged in any way.