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Everything you need to know about obtaining a US passport

As you go through your pre-travel checklist, keep in mind that one item may require some forethought: a passport. While some destinations do not require US citizens to have a passport, you will almost always need one for international travel. Wait times have decreased since the COVID-19 pandemic, when travelers could expect to wait four months for routine service, but travelers should still plan ahead if they want to avoid any disruptions to their plans.

How long does it take to get a US passport?

According to the State Department, travelers should expect to wait six to nine weeks for routine service and three to five weeks for expedited service. These processing times do not include mailing times, which may vary by location in the United States. Travelers may also have to wait up to two weeks from the time they apply for their application to be marked as "In Process."

How much is a US passport?

The price of a passport is determined by several factors, including age, whether it is a first-time application, and whether it is a passport book or card. According to the State Department, travelers aged 16 and up who apply for their first passport must pay both an application fee and an acceptance fee.

Application fees run $130 for a passport book, $30 for a passport card and $160 for both. The acceptance fee is $35 for each option. Those 16 and up who are renewing their passports have to pay the same application fees, but do not have to pay an acceptance fee. For children under 16, application fees run $100 for a passport book, $15 for a passport card and $115 for both, with a $35 acceptance fee for each option.

Where do I go to get a passport?

Travelers can apply for routine and expedited service at an acceptance facility or renew by mail (some must apply in person, including those who have never had a U.S. passport and children under 16). Those with urgent but non-emergency international travel plans within 14 calendar days can make an appointment by calling 1-877-487-2778, though some restrictions apply, according to the State Department. Visitors can also schedule an appointment if they "have a life-or-death emergency that necessitates international travel within 72 hours (3 business days)." Passengers who meet the requirements can also renew their passports online. "Full public availability for online passport renewal is planned for later in 2023," a State Department official said.

Do you need a passport for a cruise?

Not all of the time. U.S. citizens on closed-loop cruises, which begin and end in the same U.S. port, can enter the country with a government-issued photo ID and birth certificate, but the State Department recommends having a passport "in case of an emergency, such as an unexpected medical air evacuation or the ship docking at an alternate port," according to the State Department's website.

To summarize, obtaining a passport requires advance planning, and travelers should be aware of the processing time, cost, and documents and requirements. Although a passport is not always required for cruises, having one is recommended in case of emergency. The State Department's website includes a fee calculator, required forms, and photo requirements to assist travelers with their application process. Furthermore, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, processing times, fees, and requirements may change, so it is best to check the State Department's website for the most up-to-date information.

A valid passport is required for international travel. To avoid disruptions to your travel plans, it is critical to plan ahead of time and be aware of processing times, fees, and requirements. The State Department's website has a wealth of information to assist you with your passport application process, and you should always check it for the most up-to-date information. Obtaining a passport can be a simple and stress-free process with the proper preparation and information.


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