How To Apply For A Passport: How I Got My Passport

I decided that 2016 was going to be the year.

It would be the year I would get my passport.


How To Apply For A Passport, y’all

I had put it off because:

  1. There was nothing in my life that would indicate an impeding international travel need.
  2. I heard it was expensive.
  3. I didn’t want to find all the papers I’d need.
  4. Paperwork.
  5. The Unknowns. I’d write them down, but I didn’t know… hitherhencetofore – The Unknowns.

How To Apply For A Passport via @jennyonthespot

Since I didn’t have an expiring passport to deal with, or an expired one to find/consider, my process was rather straightforward.

Way more straightforward that what I had built it to be in my mind!

Here in the state of Washington – just adding this point as I cannot speak to the passport application experience in, say CALIFORNIA or TEXAS. However, the passport application through the U.S. Department of State… not the State of Washington, so I suspect this process applies across all the states.

I am sharing my experience and process because when I shared a picture of my new passport, I was asked by many how I did it… which makes me think I was not the only one who thought the process was more complicated than it actually was.

Here’s exactly how I did it:

• I picked up an application at the post office. (I picked one up one time when I was at the post mailing things. I did not make a special trip)

How To Apply For A Passport via @jennyonthespot

• I filled out the 1.5 page application. (I imagined the application to be much longer, which only encouraged my procrastination. I didn’t open the application I picked up on a trip to the post office for MONTHS out of my imagined fear.)

• Information you’ll need to fill out the application: standard stuff like name, address, birthplace, etc… But then you’ll also need the names, dates of birth, and places of birth of your parents. I thought I knew the cities my parents were born in… I knew where their childhood homes were, but I did have to call and confirm with them their official birth place. My guesses were correct, but I was surprised I didn’t know for sure! You will also need to provide spouse information (if you have a spouse), and emergency contact information.

• Official documents you will need to provide/dig-up – proof of U.S. citizenship (I gave my birth certificate), and a form of identification (I gave my drivers license).

• You will need to get the completed application and documents to someone… I went to www.travel.state.gov to find that out (website is listed on the passport application).  Since this was my FIRST EVER passport, I discovered I had to apply in person at a Passport Acceptance Facility. I used the finder to discover my in-person options. Mine were:

  • A nearby post office
  • My city
  • The county clerk.

I went with my county clerk, for a few reasons…

  • The local-ish post office (next town over) that deals in passports never answered my calls. And their voicemail box was always full. They required an appointment to receive applications, and I didn’t want to go in to make an appointment to go in again. No deal.
  • The city requires appointments and only schedule them for a handful of hours on Thursdays. They were scheduled out for 3 weeks. I knew if I put it off, I’d keep putting it off. No deal.
  • The county clerk did not require an appointment and was open Monday through Friday! They are a bit of a drive (25 minutes), but there are plenty of drive-thru coffee stands around here, so…BOOM! Plus I listened to podcasts. That’s never a waste of time.

How To Apply For A Passport via @jennyonthespot

Each facility showed an availability calendar like the one above.

• Because I work from home, and the kids are all in school – I had the luxury of taking advantage of their 8-4/M-F schedule. I walked through the county courthouse metal detectors by 9:30 on a Wednesday. I hiked up a flight of stairs and walked into an EMPTY county clerk’s office. Empty except for the employees.

• I heard you can get a passport photo taken at Costco for $5. And you can get photos at other places… but at my county clerk’s office, they will take the passport photo for $10. I decided to pay an extra $5 instead of making a trip to Costco to save $5. And spend much more on flats of beef and pork.

• What were the costs? I spent $10 on the photo, $25 for the clerks fee (one check to county clerk for a total of $35), and a separate check for $110 for the passport application.

• One thing to note – they KEEP YOUR BIRTH CERTIFICATE. And by keep I mean, the facility you go to has to send your official birth certificate/proof of citizenship on. But!… it will be mailed back to you in a very unassuming envelope – so open all unassuming envelopes carefully until you receive your birth certificate back.

You guys. I went in On January 13th, and imagine my surprise on February 1, when I checked my mail and found my BRAND NEW BABY PASSPORT!

My birth certificate arrived a couple weeks after my passport did.

My husband has a long-expired passport. It appears he will have to follow the same process I did. We want to secure passports for our kids too – their processes are a bit different. You can find info for passports for children under the age of 16 here, and info for children ages 16-17 here. I have kids in both categories. The biggest different/issue I see is – children under 16 must have BOTH parents present for consent, but click through that link for specific details.

And that, my friends… is how to apply for a passport!

It’s WAY less scary and painful than I thought. And though $145 isn’t just a few dollars, it’s about half of what I thought. Now it’s time to start getting them for the rest of the family. One at a time, for budgeting purposes.

Important note: I got my passport for no other reason than I just decided it needed to happen…  and I wanted to be prepared for the “what if”…

But about 2 weeks after I got my passport I got a call.

And I am leaving for ICELAND IN A WEEK. Six weeks after I got that gorgeous blue book in the mail I am off to Iceland for a week!

More on that later, though.

No really, LOTS more on that later.



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One Response to “How To Apply For A Passport: How I Got My Passport”

  1. Melissa A says:

    You can also fill out the forms online and print out the pdfs, just for neatness I guess. We just did this last week to renew our super expired passports and get passport cards for the kids. We’ll be heading to Canada sometime this summer. It was way easier than I thought as well, we used AAA to take our photos, which was a decent deal and then went to the recorder/clerk’s office on a day off school, and tada, now we wait. The news has been saying it may start to take awhile to process passports, so we wanted to get ours done so we’d get them back in time to go to Canada, so hopefully we did. Have a great day!

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