Passport Services F.A.Q.
- 1. What is a passport?
A passport is a document, normally in the form of a small book that has several functions. A passport enables a person to travel outside of the borders of their home country. Although a passport does not automatically grant the holder the right to enter any country, US and Canadian passport holders can travel to many countries without obtaining any further documentation (such as visas) prior to taking the trip. A passport also functions as proof of citizenship, so a person holding a U.S. Passport is internationally recognized as a US citizen. In cases when visas are required, the visa stamps or stickers are placed on the pages of the passport. Border control officials will also stamp the pages of the passport with entry and exit stamps upon entering or exiting a country.
- 2. What is a passport card?
Available since July 14, 2008, a passport card is a wallet-size travel document that can be used to travel from the United States to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda by land and sea but not air. It is most convenient for those who live close to the border and travel frequently by land or sea. They cannot be used for travel to destinations aside from those listed above, or for any air travel whatsoever.
- 3. How long is a U.S. passport valid for?
A passport's validity is generally determined by the applicant's age. In the US, passports issued for adults ages 16 and older are valid for 10 years. Children 15 years of age and under receive passports valid for 5 years. There are two primary exceptions to this rule: a second passport is valid for 2 years and an emergency passport is valid for 1 year. In some instances, when replacing a lost passport, for example, the Department of State may issue a passport with lesser validity (usually 1 or 2 years).
- 4. When do I need a U.S. passport to travel?
You will need a passport to travel every time you leave the United States or its territories. There is one exception to this rule for American citizens, traveling by land or sea to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda - a passport card can be used.
- 5. Is there any way my passport application can be denied or rejected?
Passport applications may be denied or rejected for several reasons. The most common reason is missing the necessary documents - if the Birth Certificate (when required), the Letter of Authorization, proper photographs, correct fee, or the itinerary are missing. Also, passports will be denied for the following reasons: outstanding child support, outstanding felony/criminal warrant (not including civil infractions or parking tickets), or prior felony conviction that prohibits international travel. Please be advised that the Department of State has the right to request additional documents at their discretion.
- 6. What is a Passport Acceptance Facility?
A Passport Acceptance Facility is a place where you can apply for a U.S. Passport. In general, they are located within your local post office or county clerk.
- 7. Where is the nearest Passport Acceptance Facility?
You can find the nearest Passport Acceptance Facility by going to http://iafdb.travel.state.gov/ and entering your zip code. You may be required to call the facility to make an appointment.
- 8. Why do I need to appear in person at a Passport Acceptance Facility?
If you are applying for a new passport or replacing a lost passport, you must appear in person at the nearest Passport Acceptance Facility. This is necessary for the Acceptance Agent to verify your identity. You will be asked to swear an oath that you have been honest in your application, and you will need to sign the application in front of the Acceptance Agent (please do not sign the application before you get there!). Once the Acceptance Agent is satisfied and your identity has been confirmed, he or she will seal the appropriate documents into an envelope. It is this envelope that you must send to VisaHQ.com for expedited processing.
- 9. What if I have changed my name?
If you need to change the name in your passport, and your passport is less than one year old, use Form DS-5504. If your current passport is more than one year old and you wish to change the name, you will need to apply for Passport Renewal. You will need to submit the original court document indicating the name change or original marriage certificate, along with your current passport and other supporting documents.
- 10. Why would a traveler need a second passport?
Second passports are often requested by those who travel frequently. If you are unable to wait for a visa to be issued you may request a second passport in order to travel while getting a visa for your next destination at the same time. Another reason to apply for a second passport is for travelers who have Israeli stamps in their current passport but who also need to travel to countries where any evidence of travel to Israel will bar you from entry. When approved, second passports are usually only issued for two years but may be extended.
- 11. I am renewing my passport. Will I get my old passport back?
Yes, in most cases, the Department of State will return the old, canceled passport. However, the decision to return or destroy a canceled passport is entirely at the discretion of the Department of State. If the passport is damaged, the Department of State will usually destroy the passport rather than return it.
- 12. I submitted my application to the Post Office directly. Can you help me?
Unfortunately, we cannot. If you have submitted an application directly to your local post office, we are unable to assist you. You must call the National Passport Information Center at 1-877-487-2778.
- 13. My child is too young to sign documents. Can I sign the passport application?
Yes. Sign your own name, print the child.
- 14. Why do my documents need to be sealed by an Acceptance Agent?
Your documents are sealed so that the Department of State can be sure that no one has tampered with your application. Once the envelope is sealed, do not open it, or you will have to start the entire process over again.
- 15. Why do I have to enclose a separate fee for the State Department?
VisaHQ.com is a private company that provides a way for you to obtain a passport faster than if you were to go directly through the post office (which is usually a 4-8 week process). You will still need to pay the Department of State their fee for issuing a passport, which is why a check or money order made payable to the Department of State is a part of the application. You will also need to pay a fee to VisaHQ.com so that we may expedite the process; this fee is paid online when you complete our order form.
- 16. Why does the Department of State form has a different fee than what is listed on your site?
The Department of State fee for expedited processing is $135 for an adult. When you complete the application for the Department of State, there is a page that breaks down the fees associated with this process. The basic fee for getting a passport is $75. To get a passport application processed faster, you must pay the Department of State.
- 17. What is the Letter of Authorization?
The Letter of Authorization enables VisaHQ.com to apply for a passport on your behalf. The letter is available for download on all our passport pages: Letter of Authorization
- 18. What documents are required to for asylees to travel outside of the United States?
Asylees are subject to special rules with regard to traveling outside the United States. If an asylee plans to depart the United States, he or she generally must obtain permission to return to the United States before departure by obtaining a Refugee Travel Document (RTD).
- 19. Where can I get a copy of my Birth Certificate?
An official Certificate of Birth should be on file in the locality where the event occurred. The Federal Government does not maintain files or indexes of these records. These records are filed permanently in a State vital statistics office or in a city, county, or other local office. To obtain a certified copy of the Birth Certificate, write or go to the vital statistics office in the State or area where you were born. For more information please visit Where To Write For Vital Records or for expedited services you can use VitalChek's express certificate ordering service.
- 20. Can U.S. passport forms be copied or faxed?
No. You must use the original forms downloaded from the State Department website.