Thursday, March 20, 2014

How to Get Passports for Children




There are instructions online that explain how to get passports for your children (http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/passports/new.html). I will share our experience to compare the “online” versus “real life” experience.

I decided to go to our local post office since they provide passport services.  A friend warned me that it can take some time to get an appointment so I should start the process early.  I left a message at the post office requesting an appointment.  I received a call back about 2 weeks later.  Although it took a while for them to return my phone call, they had an appointment available within the week. 

Gathering the documentation necessary wasn’t so bad (application forms, birth certificates, copies of parents’ drivers licenses).  We already had the toddler’s birth certificate.  But even though the infant was about 8 months old, we had not gotten his birth certificate yet, so we had to request it from the state’s Vital Records office. 

*Side Note* I had already made the post office appointment to apply for passports so I was very worried about timing.  If I didn’t get the birth certificate in time, I would have to cancel and reschedule the post office appointment (which would have been a pain since both parents have to be present to apply for your child’s passport). 

So, I filled out the form to get the infant’s birth certificate, attached a money order for $39 ($24 for one copy and $15 for expedited service), included photocopies of our driver’s licenses, and mailed everything to the Vital Records office.

About a week later, everything was returned with a note that said we sent in the old version of the form.  So, I filled out the new form, re-attached the money order and copies of licenses, and re-mailed everything.  In less than a week, the birth certificate came in the mail on a Saturday and our post office appointment was on Monday.  Whew!

The appointment took 30 minutes total (15 minutes per kid) exactly like the post office representative told me it would.  We showed up 10 minutes early with all our documents in a manila envelope including the application which was mostly filled out, but not signed (as instructed).  They kept the forms, copies of identification, and original birth certificates.  Original documents were mailed back to us with the passports. 

In retrospect, I wish I had fretted more over their pictures.  A disheveled shirt and jacket for one and a white shirt on a white background for the other will follow these two for 5 years...and make for a good laugh when they’re older!  Never mind, I take that regret back J  The post office visit went smoothly, and the passports were in our mailbox in 4 weeks. From the time I called to schedule an appointment to the day the passports arrived was about 6 weeks.  Here is a cost breakdown: $80 – passport application fee, $25 – post office fee, $15 – passport photo = $120 per child.  Passports: check and check!

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