On U.S. Passports

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It was my mentor and idol Anthony Bourdain who lamented at the percentage of adults who do not have their U.S. passport, somewhere in the sad vicinity of 20-40 percent. It’s hard to find an exact statistic, but no matter what the exact percentage, Americans should be ashamed of their insular nature. While it is more of a challenge to travel throughout different countries, as we are a bit more isolated than say, Europe, we still should make it a priority to obtain our U.S. Passport.

I’m no angel. I just applied for mine last week for the first time! The only out-of-country traveling I have ever done has been to the Bahamas and Mexico, back in the times when a passport was not necessary to travel to such countries. I slipped in and out of Tijuana with ease. Now THAT’S a scary thought!

Some Passport essential information:

1. For first time applicants, get ready to fork over $135 bucks, $110 of that being the passbook charge and $25 for the execution fee.

2. Make sure you get all your documentation straight. You’ll need your original birth certificate with a RAISED seal, your driver’s license, a copy of both documents and passport photos. If you bring it all to an accepted facility (I chose a post office), they will give you the application form, wait while you fill it out, verify your information is correct and sign it. They will also sell you the money order necessary for the Department of State. And they take credit cards! The only suggestion I have is to get your photos taken elsewhere. I had my mug snapped at a print shop for $8 while the post office charged $15. Shop around!

3. It takes between 4-6 weeks to receive your passport in the mail. Keep that in mind if you are making international travel plans. If you need an expedited service, it’s an additional $60, and you should receive your passport 2 weeks from the application date.

For more information on logistics, visit http://travel.state.gov/passport/get/first/first_830.html

Well, what are you waiting for? Get out there and get traveling!

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