passport tips and tricks

Local H JayLocal H Jay Registered User regular
So for the first time in my life I will need a passport so I can visit my friend in Japan (yay!). I was wondering what kind of things I can do to expedite the process. I went to the website and did the little wizard and it looks like it will take me almost a month to get my hands on one? Which stinks because the plane tickets will only get more expensive as time goes on and I will need one to buy the ticket. Anybody who has been through the process, that can help me? Also my only valid ID is in terrible shape so I assume I'll want a new one before I go in for the passport? Also, the website directed me to an office in Houston (I am in Austin), do I really need to go all the way there with an appointment to get my hands on it? I am confuse, plz send help

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  • CauldCauld Registered User regular
    You can apply for a passport via the mail. Just fill out the forms and follow the directions. You can expedite the shipping by paying extra, but it's probably not worth it. In my experience processing times are faster than what they tell you. Near me you can get help at the post office, so look into that. Don't bother to get a passport card, they're pretty worthless.

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  • Local H JayLocal H Jay Registered User regular
    Okay. Thanks! My ID is chewed up around the picture area, I can get on planes with it but I doubt they'll accept it for this application. Are they really picky when it comes to damaged IDs? I just hate the DMV and all that jazz

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  • CauldCauld Registered User regular
    I think it's fine, for a passport you'll need a birth certificate. This website is helpful for getting you on the right track: http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/passports/apply.html

  • DaMoonRulzDaMoonRulz Mare ImbriumRegistered User regular
    Just make sure to get a full-fledged passport and don't think you can save a few bucks by getting a Passport Card.

    Passport card is good for land and sea travel in North America and the Bahamas/Carribean, NOT air travel

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  • DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
    All you need to do is get the photos done correctly, post offices and drug stores do them. Make sure you submit a photo which exactly adheres to the requirement, one of the things they kick back is problems with the photo.

    Then just fill out the application correctly, mail it in with your check for expedited service, and done.

    What is this I don't even.
  • SeidkonaSeidkona Had an upgrade Registered User regular
    They can be really picky about the photo.

    I'd suggest getting it done at the post office because they don't reject those but they'll reject any of the drug store or self done ones at the drop of a hat.

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  • schussschuss Registered User regular
    Note that you can expedite it if you live close enough to a passport center or pay extra, but that only drops it down to 2 weeks I think.

  • I ZimbraI Zimbra Colorful Extrovert Registered User regular
    A passport office can get it to you in a couple of days or faster (last time I went they were doing one same day for the people in front of me), but you have to be within 2 weeks of your travel date to use one.

  • Local H JayLocal H Jay Registered User regular
    I won't be going until April or May, but it's mostly to save money on buying a ticket. Post office picture sounds easy enough. My mom said when you mail in the application you send them your IDs too, I hate to keep asking but should I get the new Drivers License before sending it in? I don't wanna waste time if they'll reject it based on that.

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  • Inquisitor77Inquisitor77 2 x Penny Arcade Fight Club Champion A fixed point in space and timeRegistered User regular
    If you truly, absolutely want it in <2 weeks then you have to show up to an office and get an expedited order in. Otherwise plan for doing it through the mail and having it take a month (although to be fair I'd be surprised if it took longer than 2 weeks).

  • I ZimbraI Zimbra Colorful Extrovert Registered User regular
    You're only sending in a photocopy, so as long as the copy looks good you're probably in good shape.

  • Local H JayLocal H Jay Registered User regular
    My friend directed me here
    http://world.utexas.edu/passport
    Which seems to be a pretty effective method, it says to bring all my documents and paperwork

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  • Samurai_KittySamurai_Kitty PennsylvaniaRegistered User regular
    Not sure if this is still the case, but when I've bought airline tickets for international travel semi-recently (last time being about a year ago), I've had the option to fill in the passport information later. If this is still the case, you could buy the tickets now locking in any low prices you are seeing and proceed as normal for acquiring your passport.

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  • DaMoonRulzDaMoonRulz Mare ImbriumRegistered User regular
    As someone who works in the airline industry, we will put in passport info the day of the flight during check in.

    We have to make sure that it will swipe in our scanners (if it's too damaged you can be denied boarding, or turned away at the customs of the destination)

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  • Local H JayLocal H Jay Registered User regular
    That is really good to know!

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  • NotoriusBENNotoriusBEN Registered User regular
    yea, as long as your photocopied IDs are legible, and you send a proper passport photo, you should be good to go.
    just wait the extra time it takes for processing. the amount of money isnt worth the expedition unless its super important family emergency stuff.

    and yes, you can get the ticket early, just make sure you allow yourself the window to receive your passport. As DaMoonRulz said. You *will* be swiping your passport when you claim your ticket at a kiosk, ticket booth, security, and before you board the plane.

    With international flights they make super sure you have that passport or you'll be turned away at the door. If you are quick you can get a refund, or most likely a different slated departure date and time.

    The passport card it worthless no one will accept it except Canada. Never get it. Just get the proper book.

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  • NightDragonNightDragon 6th Grade Username Registered User regular
    Another tip: I thought that the birth certificate that I had was good enough to get my passport a few years ago (since I'd used it for all previous important documents and ID's), but apparently for a passport you need a long form birth certificate. The main distinction is that the long form version has not just your name, but your parents' names. A short form birth certificate just has your name, and will not be accepted.

    If you don't have the long form version (as I didn't), you need to order one from the state in which it was filed (where you were born). I was able to do that online, but it's a little extra money and time, so just be sure to factor that into the process if you need to.

  • Local H JayLocal H Jay Registered User regular
    I have all my IDs including the longer birth certificate, and applied for a new Drivers License online just in case. Thanks for all the help guys!

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  • MagicToasterMagicToaster JapanRegistered User regular
    If you're going in May, Golden Week happens that month. Make sure you're not planning anything during that week, it'll be super crowded everywhere.

  • GooeyGooey (\/)┌¶─¶┐(\/) pinch pinchRegistered User regular
    edited December 2015
    Protip: Once you get your passport, sign up for Global Entry ( http://www.cbp.gov/travel/trusted-traveler-programs/global-entry )

    It is $100 for 5 years and gets you in the fast lane for customs when you re-enter the country (you use a kiosk instead of having to stand in line and talk to a customs agent), also - and this is the big one - it gets you TSA PreCheck, which means you go in a different line at airport security and don't have to take your shoes off or have your genitals photographed or take out your laptop or whatever. PreCheck alone is $85, so it is a no-brainer to spot the extra $15 for Global Entry.

    It is kind of a pain in the ass to get because the form is gigantic (although you fill it out all online) and you have to go in for an interview with a customs agent (mine took all of 10 minutes, and it wasn't really an "interview" so much as the guy explaining the benefits of Global Entry to me, which I already knew because those were the reasons I was signing up in the first place) but it is totally worth it.

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  • GooeyGooey (\/)┌¶─¶┐(\/) pinch pinchRegistered User regular
    Also you can get your passport photo at a CVS or Walgreens or similar.

    You don't need to visit the Houston office in person but if you do you can get same-day turnaround on your passport.

    If I remember correctly it takes ~3-4 weeks to get it otherwise with expedited service. I would go ahead and pay extra for the express (1-day?) shipping just because that way you get a tracking number and it's an important document you don't want to get lost or stolen.

    I *think* you can buy a ticket without a passport, you just need a passport when you check in at the check-in counter (you cannot get boarding passes for an international flight with online check-in).

    Getting your passport is pretty simple enough, there is an online form you can fill out and it's designed to be idiot-proof. It basically tells you exactly what you need to put in your envelope, all you have to do is follow the directions.

    There are passport companies who will "rush" your passport for you (you give them power of attorney and they go to a same-day passport office for you) but unless you need the passport in a few days or need a visa with a foreign country very quickly this is a waste of money. Just go to the .gov website for passports and fill your stuff out there.

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  • DelmainDelmain Registered User regular
    Gooey wrote: »
    Also you can get your passport photo at a CVS or Walgreens or similar.

    You don't need to visit the Houston office in person but if you do you can get same-day turnaround on your passport.

    If I remember correctly it takes ~3-4 weeks to get it otherwise with expedited service. I would go ahead and pay extra for the express (1-day?) shipping just because that way you get a tracking number and it's an important document you don't want to get lost or stolen.

    I *think* you can buy a ticket without a passport, you just need a passport when you check in at the check-in counter (you cannot get boarding passes for an international flight with online check-in).

    Getting your passport is pretty simple enough, there is an online form you can fill out and it's designed to be idiot-proof. It basically tells you exactly what you need to put in your envelope, all you have to do is follow the directions.

    There are passport companies who will "rush" your passport for you (you give them power of attorney and they go to a same-day passport office for you) but unless you need the passport in a few days or need a visa with a foreign country very quickly this is a waste of money. Just go to the .gov website for passports and fill your stuff out there.

    You should be able to get the ticket without the passport. I'm 90% certain the US will expedite your passport application if you can show that you have tickets to leave the country shortly.

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  • GooeyGooey (\/)┌¶─¶┐(\/) pinch pinchRegistered User regular
    Delmain wrote: »
    Gooey wrote: »
    Also you can get your passport photo at a CVS or Walgreens or similar.

    You don't need to visit the Houston office in person but if you do you can get same-day turnaround on your passport.

    If I remember correctly it takes ~3-4 weeks to get it otherwise with expedited service. I would go ahead and pay extra for the express (1-day?) shipping just because that way you get a tracking number and it's an important document you don't want to get lost or stolen.

    I *think* you can buy a ticket without a passport, you just need a passport when you check in at the check-in counter (you cannot get boarding passes for an international flight with online check-in).

    Getting your passport is pretty simple enough, there is an online form you can fill out and it's designed to be idiot-proof. It basically tells you exactly what you need to put in your envelope, all you have to do is follow the directions.

    There are passport companies who will "rush" your passport for you (you give them power of attorney and they go to a same-day passport office for you) but unless you need the passport in a few days or need a visa with a foreign country very quickly this is a waste of money. Just go to the .gov website for passports and fill your stuff out there.

    You should be able to get the ticket without the passport. I'm 90% certain the US will expedite your passport application if you can show that you have tickets to leave the country shortly.

    Now that you say this, I remember this being the case. :^:

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  • Local H JayLocal H Jay Registered User regular
    Damn. This is all great info.

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  • SixSix Thankful for my limbs and teeth Registered User regular
    Another tip if you ever need a passport processed in a hurry: contact your congressman's office. They can and will get things pushed through in a huge rush if you have a real need.

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  • spool32spool32 Contrary Library Registered User regular
    edited January 2016
    Hey @Blameless Cleric help this dude out with where the passport expedite office is in Austin.

    spool32 on
  • Blameless ClericBlameless Cleric An angel made of sapphires each more flawlessly cut than the last Registered User regular
    edited January 2016
    spool32 wrote: »
    Hey @Blameless Cleric help this dude out with where the passport expedite office is in Austin.

    oh ok so I had my passport expedited, it was here:

    http://www.austinpassport.com/

    I remember expediting it requiring a vast sum of money, but I was 17 so I might not have had the best understanding of what constitutes "vast" when it comes to funds

    Got it in 2 weeks.

    They do the photocopying and photos for you in-house

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  • DaMoonRulzDaMoonRulz Mare ImbriumRegistered User regular
    Even at 29 expediting costs a vast sum, but I'm miserly

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  • Local H JayLocal H Jay Registered User regular
    I sent away for my passport last week, went through a local office.
    It was $100 for the passport, plus another $40 to expedite it, and then a small fee for them to take my picture there. Thanks for all the advice in here, helped me get all my stuff together quickly and walked in there knowing what to expect.

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