To cross any U.S. border, obtain a foreign visa or even to book an international flight, you are going to need a passport. However, plan ahead, as it may take as long as six weeks to receive your passport.
Go to the U.S. Department of State website (see references section below), click the appropriate link under the heading "Apply for a U.S. Passport," and complete the steps listed.
Obtaining Your Passport
Submit your completed paperwork at your local post office. Bring form DS-11, birth certificate, valid ID with one photocopy, two passport-sized photos (2 by 2 inches) and the processing fee. Your new passport will be good for 10 years.
Renewing an Old Passport
If your passport has expired or has fewer than six months left before expiry, you will need to renew it. Obtain form DS-82 (available at the U.S. Department of State website) and bring it with the above documents to your local passport office.
Do not give your passport to anyone other than an immigration official. Carry color photocopies of the front page and any pages that have visa stamps.
Replacing Your Passport
If you misplace your passport, you can get a replacement at any U.S. consulate abroad.
Article Written By Jeff Studebaker
Jeff Studebaker is a travel writer and recreational fisherman who started writing professionally in 2003 as a Bangkok-based reporter. Covering Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia, he has published more than 1,000 articles in magazines including "Travel Trade Gazette," "MICE Magazine," and "Business Travel News." A psychology B.A. from Western Washington University, he is now based in Bellingham, Wash.