Let's start by pointing out that for international travel we're leaving the U.S. and going to another country. (Yeah, this is obvious but you'd be surprised what folks don't think about.) As a result, you need to make sure you have the necessary travel documentation as described below. This stuff is IMPORTANT; without proper proof of citizenship, you will be denied entry to our destination country-- which means you've just had an expensive and boring trip for nothing.
Here are the options for acceptable documentation:
PREFERRED OPTION #1: Valid U.S. Passport Book.
Application Fee + Execution Fee for first-time adult applicants is $135. Renewal fee (if you already have a passport that is nearing expiration) is $110. A U.S. Passport Book is valid for 10 years. Click here for the current estimate of the time needed to process your passport application. A U.S. Passport Book is valid for travel anywhere in the world, including international air travel.
PREFERRED OPTION #2: Valid U.S. Passport Card.
First-time applicant cost is $55, or $30 if you already hold a passport. Click here for the current estimate of the time needed to process your passport application. The U.S. Passport Card can be used to enter the United States from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean (including Bahamas), and Bermuda at land border crossings or sea ports-of-entry. However, the Passport Card cannot be used for international travel by air (e.g., you can't fly to Europe or Asia using a U.S. Passport Card).
THIRD OPTION - VALID ONLY FOR SPECIFIC TYPES OF CRUISE TRAVEL: Proof of citizenship (read this carefully!)
(Information in this paragraph is taken from travel.state.gov,
the U.S. State Department's website for international travel)
Note: Baptismal papers and hospital certificates of birth are NOT acceptable. Voter registration cards or Social Security cards are NOT considered proof of citizenship.
Note: This option is NOT valid for entering into or returning from foreign countries by land or air.
Please note that Tom and Steve do NOT recommend this option for any TBGO travel. Since documentation can vary, it becomes YOUR responsibility to ensure that your documentation is considered valid proof of citizenship. Should an emergency arise during the trip that would require you to fly out of a foreign port early, this option is a PROBLEM since it is not valid for international air travel. We STRONGLY recommend either the U.S. Passport Book or U.S. Passport Card.
We recommend that people who do not have a Passport or need to renew a Passport send in their application AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. Click here for current State Department estimates of application processing time for routine and expedited service. .
While the following information on applying for a first passport and renewing an expiring passport was accurate at time of publication, it is only a guideline. This page is not guaranteed to be fully up to date and is by definition less authoritative than information from the official State Department website. Please take advantage of the links to the State Department information to be sure that you are complying with all current application requirements.
See this link for a full explanation of applying for a Passport if you are a first-time applicant. Please note that in addition to government-issued photo identification (such as a driver's license) you will need a CERTIFIED copy of your birth certificate (or other proof of citizenship such as naturalization papers). A CERTIFIED birth certificate has a registrar's raised, embossed, impressed or multicolored seal, registrar's signature, and the date the certificate was filed with the registrar's office, which must be within 1 year of your birth. Note that a photocopy of your birth certificate is NOT a certified copy. If you don't already have a CERTIFIED birth certificate, your first step will be to obtain one (see why you need to start this process now?). See this link for information about how to obtain copies of vital records, including your birth certificate. (Note that you need to write to the state where you were born, not the state in which you currently reside!)
Once you have all the necessary documentation, you need to fill out Form DS-11. Important: Do NOT sign the application until instructed to do so by an Acceptance Agent. You will also need a passport photo; click here for Passport Photo Requirements.
Okay, now you're ready to rock. Take your completed DS-11, government-issued photo identification, certified birth certificate, passport photo, and your CHECKBOOK (charge cards will probably not be accepted; click here to see current Passport Fees) to a Passport Acceptance Facility to submit your application. Click here for a list of Passport Acceptance Facilities in Oregon. (If you live near the Beaverton area, Tom recommends Beaverton City Hall; the Facility is located in the Finance Department on the 2nd floor.) To find Passport Acceptance Facilities in other states, click here.
Your Most Recent U.S. Passport:
- Is undamaged and can be submitted with your application
- Was issued when you were age 16 or older
- Was issued within the last 15 years
- Was issued in your current name or you can legally document your name change
If any of the above statements do not apply to you, you must Apply in Person. In this case, see the above section on First-Time Passport Applicants for details of the process.
To renew your U.S. Passport by mail: You must submit Form DS-82 with all necessary accompaniments. Click here for Form DS-82 and step-by-step instructions. In addition to the form, you must submit your most recent U.S. Passport (book or card), a passport photo (click here for Passport Photo Requirements), required fees, and a marriage certificate or court order if your name has changed. Please note that the State Department strongly recommends that you use a padded envelope large enough to fit the application without folding (do not use a standard letter-size #10 envelope) and strongly encourages the use of a traceable delivery method. Based on the timing of your application and the current State Department estimates of application processing time, you may wish to consider Expedited Service to obtain your passport sooner. If you choose Expedited Service, be sure to clearly mark 'EXPEDITE' on the outside of your padded envelope as detailed in the instructions and enclose the additional Expedited Service fee. (Click here to see all current Passport Fees.)