Thanks to miles and points, many people have traveled the world for what others pay to travel to a different state in the US. With them, many of us have gotten to enjoy learning and experiencing many countries and cultures. However, with all of those experiences, we sometimes forget that there are many aspects of international travel that can be confusing to people just starting out.
With many of the miles and points information that blogs talk about and that the readers earn, it is possible to travel internationally with one or two credit card applications. The part that keeps people from redeeming for those international trips many times is the unknown factors about international travel. With this multi-part guide, I hope it will help many of you get a better understanding of what you need for international travel so you can enjoy participating in it – whether it be running an international marathon or planning a foreign family vacation.
Guide to International Travel – Obtaining a Passport
To travel internationally, you will first need to obtain a passport. For certain countries (traveling by land or sea from Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, or the Caribbean to the US), you can get by with just a US Passport Card, but for the most of the countries you will visit (or when traveling by air), you will need to have a passport. While that may seem very basic, I cannot tell you how many times I have seen people check in at the airport (with their families) to travel to someplace like Japan and all they have is a US Passport Card. At their expense and the expense of their vacation time, they have to abandon the trip. It is sad to see, but also avoidable if you plan properly. Here is the process of getting a passport, what you need, and other little tips. For more information from the State Department, click here.
Obtaining a Passport
To apply for the passport, you will need the following paperwork: *see below for additional paperwork for minor’s applications
- Proof of US Citizenship (can be certified U.S. Birth Certificate, or previous US Passport, or Consular Report of Birth Abroad, or Certificate of Naturalization/Citizenship)
- Photo ID (can be valid driver’s license, undamaged US passport not more than 15 years old, Certificate of Naturalization, valid government ID, valid military ID) and copy of the ID
- Passport photo (best to be taken at the Post Office itself or someplace reputable like a UPS Store to ensure the photos are properly taken)
- Form DS-11 (filled out but not signed) – form can be found here
- Personal/Bank check or money order (made out to the Department of State for $110 – if for an adult – or $80 – if a minor under the age of 16)
- Money order or bank check (or credit card/personal check at some locations) for $25 to be paid to the facility
Where To Apply
For your first passport, you must apply in person to one of the following locations:
Authorized Passport Acceptance Facility – this includes places such as post offices, libraries, or municipal offices. Click here to search for a location. These locations can handle standard and expedited passport processing. Many of these locations will require an appointment to be made.
Department of State Passport Agency – to use these locations, you must pay the expedited fee of $60. You must make an appointment as well as show proof of travel (for most locations). Click here to search for a Passport Agency and use this number to make your appointment – 877-487-2778
Things To Know
Applications for Minors
To apply for a passport for a minor, you must have all the paperwork from above for the minor plus – evidence of parental relationship, parental consent (if one parent cannot be there, they must submit a signed, notarized form that can be found here). Both parents/guardians must be present or have the above form signed and notarized if one of them cannot be present. For more information on applying for minors, click here.
The turnaround time can vary by time of year, but the typical, advertised time is 4-6 weeks for standard passport processing and 2-3 weeks for expedited service. The expedited service fee is $60 and counts overnight shipping (payable by applicant) in the turnaround timeframe. If you need the passport quicker than that, you can go to a Passport Agency to apply. Depending on when your travel is, you can get the passport in as short as a few hours. When I applied for my second passport, it took only two days for my passport to be issued from the Passport Agency. Just going to the Passport Agency requires the applicant to pay the $60 expedite fee.
Passports for minors (people under the age of 16) are good for 5 years while passports for persons older than that are good for 10 years. Second passports (as in passports that are applied for in addition to a current passport) are good for 2 years.
If you plan on doing a lot of international travel, consider applying for the 52 page passport book (instead of the standard 28 page passport book). It costs the same as a standard passport book but gives you 26 extra pages for visas. Since many countries require you to have one or two blank pages for entry visas, it may be a good idea to get the 52 page passport book. Check at the top of the application for the 52 page passport book (it is not a guarantee, but you will get it unless supplies are constrained).
Fee Schedule for First-time Applicants
|Passport||Passport Fee||Execution Fee||Expedited Fee||Total|
|Adult Passport Book (standard time)||$110||$25||$135|
|Adult Passport Book (expedited)||$110||$25||$60||$195|
|Minor Passport Book (standard time)||$80||$25||$105|
|Minor Passport Book (expedited)||$80||$25||$60||$165|
Hopefully this will help you as you go ahead and apply for your first passport. It is easy to do and now you will be able to use your miles and points for some incredible destinations around the world!
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