5 Easy Steps to Get Your U.S. Passport!

Get ready to hit every country on your bucket list in less than 6 weeks and under $150! The feeling of getting your passport is so liberating! You feel as though you can take on the world because now you have the ability to reach every nook and cranny of it. Get ready to grab your passport and start trippin'!

1. Are you eligible?

To have a U.S. passport, you need to be a U.S. citizen by birth or naturalization or be a qualifying U.S. national.

If you were born in the United Stated pass Go and collect $200. But in all seriousness, you're all set to go on to Step 2.

Naturalization: Has had a Permanent Resident Card/Green Card for at least five years.

2. Have you found and filled out the Application Form?

In the tech world we live in, of course you are able to fill out the application form online. You can do this by going to the Passport Application Wizard. Even though this is a good option, it's not what I would suggest. My suggestion is to fill out the form in person at your local facility. This way you can ask questions and have someone direct you to exactly what needs to be filled out. This is also my suggestion because whether you fill it out online or by hand, it is important that you do not sign the form until you are instructed to do so in front of a passport designated official you will meet when applying in person. Save your time, ink and paper and just do it in person. You have to go to the facility anyway.

3. Do you have all the items you need?

A passport is a government issued identification so you will have to prove your identity before getting approved. Make sure you have ALL of these items before going to the facility.

1. Personal Documents:

An original proof of citizenship document. Birth Certificate or Original Certificate of Citizenship/Naturalization.

An acceptable photo ID document. License or government ID card.

A photocopy of the front and back of the citizenship document and photo ID document.

2. Passport photo:

Be mindful that there are a few basic rules for the photo. My suggestion is to go to a Walgreens or CVS and get your picture done. The people that work there know the basic photo rules and will make sure that the photo you have is acceptable. They will also print it out in the appropriate size, 2x2 inches. But just in case, I will include the most important rules.

1.Submit a color photo, taken in the last 6 months.

2.Use a clear image of your face. Absolutely no filters. No head gear i.e. hats.

3.Have someone else take your photo. No selfies. No smiling.

4.Take off your eyeglasses for your photo.

5.Use a plain white or off-white background. No exceptions. No shadows.

3. Payment:

Passport Book $145

Passport Card $65

Passport Book & Card $175 *Passport prices if not expedited.

4. Have you found a passport acceptance facility?

Most government offices will be considered a passport acceptance facility, most commonly post offices. Other facilities include some USPS stores, public libraries and courthouses. All of these locations are subject to being an acceptance facility so either give them a call before you go or check the specific location's website. Find local facilities near you here.

5. Do you have more or less than 3 weeks until your trip?

In my experience and of those I know, we have all received our passports in 4 weeks or less with a regular order. However, the time period the government suggest is 6-8 weeks for a regular order. If you are going somewhere in a month, I would say you would still be safe by ordering it regular instead of expedited. Always use your discernment and do whatever you believe is the safest, though. If you are going out of the country in 3 weeks or less you will need to make sure you expedited it. This will cost you an additional $60 to the cost list listed above. There may also be additional fess for delivery cost.

Passport Book vs Passport Card

When you go to your local acceptance facility, they may ask you if you would like a passport book, passport card or both. You may have heard of a passport card before, but if you haven't I'll explain the difference below. My suggestion is to just get the passport book because it can do everything that the passport card can do and more. Personally, I have never had a passport card.

Passport Book

- Required for ALL international travel by AIR

- Valid for ALL travel destinations

- Valid for travel by AIR, LAND & SEA

Passport Card

- Valid for international travel by LAND or SEA to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda ONLY

- Cost less than the passport

- Wallet-size

Until next time, stay trippin'!