Holding a US passport has many benefits and advantages. It alone, opens to its holder the doors to most of the countries of the world, making traveling arrangements not only easier and more pleasant, but also cheaper. It is one of the most powerful passports in the world, since with it you can visit 186 world countries without having to apply for a visa from US.
Of course, getting a US passport has its criteria and requirements. The main criterion for you to be eligible to apply for a US passport is to be a legal citizen of the United States. However, becoming a US citizen is a whole process itself, and has its own requirements and specifications.
What is a US passport?
A passport is a travel document, which serves as an identification form for its holder, when he or she attempts to enter a foreign country. A US passport can come in two forms:
- A US passport card
- A passport book
While a US passport book is in a format similar to most world passports, with harder covers and many pages, a US passport card looks exactly like a driver’s license. You can use your passport book to travel anywhere in the world. Expect that, to enter in some countries you will have to possess a visa as well.
On the other hand, a US passport card permits you to travel to countries as Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean or Bermuda. It is easier to carry, and permits you entry only in countries that do not apply the visa regime to the US nationals.
How to apply for US passport
The US passport application process is not as complicated as you may think. Only follow the steps below in order to correctly file your US passport application:
Fulfill the correct form
There are three different forms, one of which you will have to fulfill in order to start your US passport application.
- Form DS-11. This form should be completed by first-time applicants, children under 16, applicants from 16 to 17, and anyone not eligible for from DS-82.
- Form DS-82. This form should be completed by adults renewing their passports.
- Form DS-5504. This form should be completed by applicants wishing to change their name within a year, correcting a passport error or replacing a limited validity passport.
Collect your supporting documents
The second step is collecting the required documents, which are:
- An original or certified copy of citizenship evidence and a photocopy of it.
- A government-issued photo identification document (ID), and a photocopy of it.
- 2″ by 2″ color passport photo
- Requirements for children under 16:
- US birth certificate (also evidence of US citizenship)
- Parental Consent
- Parent’s Divorce/Custody decree (if applicable)
- Parent’s ID
- One photo
Pay the US passport fee
Passport fees change depending on a few factors, as: the age of the applicant, the reason why you are applying (first-time applicant, correction, renewal, etc.) and the additional services.
How Long Does it Take to Get a US Passport?
Many people wonder how long does it take to get a US passport, so they can arrange their travel plans. You can get a US passport within 4 to 6 weeks. This is the standard amount of time a passport processing takes in the US.
However, if you cannot wait that long, and you need it within a shorter period, you can apply for a US passport through an expedited processing. This will cost you $205 and you will get your passport within 3 to 4 weeks. On the other hand, if you apply for normal processing you will need to pay a lower fee of $145.
Whereas, in special emergency situations you may be able to get a visa within 8 working days. The fees that apply in situations like this depend on the nature of the emergency.