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

by | Mar 8, 2016 | Tips, Travel | 1 comment

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 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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