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 Alameda, CA July 19, 2004 
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Today's Life Solutions / Travel /  
Passports and Visas

June 1, 2004

It is a good idea to apply 3 months before you plan to travel. If you also need visas, allow more time as you must have a valid passport before applying for a visa. If this is your first passport, you must apply in person, bringing with you proof of U.S. citizenship (usually a certified copy of your birth certificate, previous U.S. passport, a naturalization certificate, or a Consular Report of Birth Abroad); 2 identical recent front-view photos (2" x 2"); a completed passport application (Form DS-11); proof of identity, such as a valid drivers license or other photo or physical-description I.D.; and the appropriate fee for a passport valid for 10 years. Click here to see a chart of passport fees.

You may apply at any passport agency or at one of the many clerks of court or post offices designated to accept passport applications. Your birth certificate or other documents will be returned to you by mail, along with your new passport.

You may be eligible to apply for a passport by mail. If you have had a passport issued within the past 12 years and you are able to mail that passport with your application, you can use Form DS-82, "Application for Passport by Mail," to apply. Obtain this form from any office that accepts passport applications or from your travel agent.

If you are leaving on an emergency trip within two weeks, apply in person at the nearest passport agency and present your tickets and itinerary from an airline, as well as the other required items. Or, apply at a court or post office and arrange to have the application sent to the passport agency through an overnight delivery service of your choice. (You should also include a self-addressed, pre-paid envelope for the return of the passport by express mail.) Be sure to include your dates of departure, travel plans on your application and all appropriate fees (including the expedite fee).

When you receive your passport, be sure to sign it on page 1 and to pencil in on page 4 the requested information. This will help us notify your family or friends in case of an accident or other emergency. Do not designate your traveling companion as the person to be notified in case of an emergency.

Many countries require a visa--an endorsement or stamp placed in your passport by a foreign government that permits you to visit that country for a specified purpose and a limited time. A number of countries require you to obtain a visa from the embassy or consular office nearest to your residence. The addresses of foreign consular offices can be found in telephone directories of large cities or in the Congressional Directory, available in most libraries; or you may write to the appropriate embassy in Washington, D.C. and request the address of their consulate that is nearest to you. You can also obtain the Department of State booklet, Foreign Entry Requirements, which lists visa and other entry requirements and locations of all foreign embassies and consulates in the U.S.

Apply for your visa directly to the embassy or consulate of each country you plan to visit or ask your travel agent to assist you with visas. U.S. passport agencies cannot obtain visas for you. Check with the embassy or consulate of the countries you plan to visit for the latest information.
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