Applying For a New Passport - 5 Things Not to Do

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Applying for a new passport is a lengthier and more time-consuming task than other passport services such as a renewal or name change. The fees to process a new passport application are more as well.

Because of the additional investment of time and money needed to obtain a new passport, you want to do everything you can to avoid delays or, possibly, the rejection of your application. Following are a list of five things you should not do in order to insure that your application is processed and you get your new travel document without any complications.

Do not make mistakes on the application.

This may seem obvious but it is quite easy to commit errors on the passport application. You have probably heard the saying, "To err is human." One reason it is so easy to make mistakes on the passport application is because most of the information requested is personal data such as full name, address, date and place of birth, phone number, social security number, email address, etc. It is so easy to write the information without thinking twice. But that is exactly what you should do. Complete the application slowly. Check your answers. Verify the data. Get it right before you turn it in and you can avoid unnecessary problems.

Do not sign the application before you are asked to do so.

New passport applications must be presented to an official passport application acceptance agent. Many post offices and county clerk offices serve as application acceptance facilities. The agent will witness the signing of your application. This is why new passports have an additional execution fee which is paid separately from the application fee. If you sign the application prior to presenting it to the agent, you will have to complete another one.

Do not send photocopies of proof of citizenship.

One of the requirements to get a new passport is to provide evidence of U.S. citizenship. Primary documents that may be used to prove citizenship include a previously issued U.S. passport, a certified birth certificate, a Consular Report of Birth Abroad or Certification of Birth, a Naturalization Certificate or a Certificate of Citizenship.

The document you submit must be either an original or a certified copy. No photocopies are accepted. For example, the U.S. Department of State states, "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." Your document will be returned to you.

Do not forget to sign your check to Passport Services.

Surprisingly, some applicants complete the application correctly, gather the appropriate documents, acquire new passport photos, take everything to an acceptance facility, have an agent witness their signature, pay the execution fee, place everything in an envelope, and send it off without having signed the check for the application fee.

Do not wait until the last minute to apply.

Regular passport processing can take 4 weeks or more. During peak travel seasons or periods of changes in passport requirements, the time it takes process an application can increase significantly. Waiting until the last minute to apply for a new passport will not only cost you more money, it can also require more of your time and lead to more stress. There is a fee of $60 for expedited services. Processing time diminishes to 2 or 3 weeks.

If you are required to obtain a passport more quickly, you will either have to visit a regional passport agency or contract a private expediter. A trip to the regional passport agency will cost you day or more, depending on how far you have to travel to get there. Contracting the services of a passport expediter can cost approximately $50 to $300 more, depending on how quickly you need your passport. The recommendation is that you apply for a new passport at least 3 months before the date of your intended trip. 

Visit U.S. Passport Service Guide to download a new passport application and access step-by-step instructions on how to apply for passport and learn to save big on airfare, accommodations, attractions and more with the free Travel Savings Tactics

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