No Man Left Behind – Applying For Your Passport

In 2019 for our family vacation, the Outliers took on Mexico. It was the children’s first time flying international, which meant we would need to apply for their passports. As a went through the process I figured why not share the details.

Passport Application Process for First Time Applicants

Apply in Person

You must apply in person if one of the following is true:

  • You are applying for your first U.S. passport
  • You are under age 16
  • Your previous U.S. passport was issued when you were under age 16
  • Your previous U.S. passport was lost, stolen, or damaged
  • Your previous U.S. passport was issued more than 15 years ago

Passport Fees


  • Passport book: $145
  • Passport Card $65
  • Both $175


  • Passport book $115
  • Passport card $50
  • Both $130

**All fees include both application and execution fee**

Passport book vs Card…

If you’re like me, you’re always looking to save. Although the passport card is a lot cheaper from the book, this is probably not the best choice for the long run.

Besides the difference of one being a book and the other a card, passport cards are not valid for international travel. So if your international travel plans include air transportation forget it. The card is only valid for re-entry to the United States, Mexico, Bermuda, and Caribbean for only land and sea crossings. **The card also only allows 24 characters in your name**. The standard passport books covers all of those bases, regardless of how you travel.

Required Documents


Along with your application filled out in black ink (Obviously I had to do it in blue right). You will also need your driver’s license (government issued id) and a certified birth certificate (long form). If your name has changed due to marriage, you’ll need a copy of your marriage license.


For children, if both parents can appear that would be great. You will need to bring a copy of the child’s long form birth certificate (shows relationship to the child) and both your driver’s licenses (government id).

If only one parent is present and both are listed on the birth certificate you’ll need one of the following:

  • second parent’s notarized written statement given consent
  • court order showing guardianship
  • written statement explaining why 2nd parent is unavailable or
  • death certificate

If there is only one parent listed, just your information is required.

Passport Picture: 

Contrary to popular belief you ARE allowed to smile. That’s actually on the application you will need to fill out. Most places that print pictures offer some type of passport option for a fee of course. The post office charges $15 to take a picture. However if you have a membership to Sam’s or Costco you can take a passport photo for around $5. For AAA members depending on the level, it’s free!!

Passport Length

  • 16 and under – valid for 5 years
  • 16 and over- valid 10 years

Legal Matter

Now in a perfect world, we don’t have these issues but that’s not the case. So in case your reading this and have a checkered past (convicted felon) this does not disqualify you totally from your passport. However there are certain offense that will like:

  • Convicted of international drug trafficking
  • currently charged with a felony / outstanding warrant
  • Owing over $2500 in child support / certain federal loans owed
  • certain drug related offenses

Processing Times

Due to COVID-19 processing times have been extended.

  • Routine: 10 – 12 weeks
  • Expedited: 4 – 6 weeks

For more information be sure to visit the Department of State website

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