U.S. Passports are obtained through the U.S. Department of State (DOS). Through your local Passport Acceptance Agent, usually located at county courthouses and at some post offices, you can apply for a new passport or to replace a lost, stolen or damaged passport.
Passport applications usually take 4 to 6 weeks to process. For an addition fee, the applications can be expedited. In such cases, the processing time is reduced to two to three weeks. It is best not to purchase airline tickets until you have your passport in hand.
Detailed U.S. Passport information and application forms can be obtained on the Department of State's (DOS) website, www.travel.state.gov. From passport requirements, fees and filing locations to travel warnings, Consular information sheets, the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program and what to do if a crisis happens while you are traveling overseas, the DOS website is your A to Z source for international travel.
Although we cannot order an agency to decide a matter in your favor, we can ensure that your case is treated fairly and expeditiously. We can contact the Passport Agency to find out the status of an overdue passport and provide guidance when an applicant receives a passport denial notice. Once you have contacted my office regarding your case, you might be asked to fill out a privacy release form and send it to:
The Honorable Joe Barton
6001 West I-20, Suite 200
Arlington, Texas 76017-2811
Frequently asked questions:
Q: I'm traveling overseas and I have my passport. What else to I need to do?
A: You've got your passport and you're ready to go on your trip, right? Not quite. You still have to check with the country or countries you'll be visiting to determine whether or not you'll need a visa. A visa is permission from a country to cross their borders and comes in the form of a stamp in your U.S. Passport. You usually have to mail your passport to the Embassy or Consulate of the country you'll be visiting, so allow plenty of time to accomplish this. Also, check the State Department website for travel warning and consular information sheets that provide very helpful information about the country you plan on visiting. The State Department services website also contains very comprehensive information on all the services it provides both stateside and abroad. This includes crisis assistance for U.S. citizens living or traveling abroad, and various travel publications available on-line.
Q: How do I contact the U.S. Embassy in the country to which I plan to travel?
A: Many U.S. Diplomatic Missions abroad have information on-line. For those that don't, check the State Department's Key Officers of Foreign Service Posts for addresses, and phone and fax numbers for U.S. Embassies and Consulates throughout the world.
Q: Can I expedite the process by which I get my passport? How long does the expedited process take?
A: Passports usually take from 30 to 40 days to issue. For a $60.00 fee--plus the cost of 2-way overnight mail--you can "expedite" this process and receive your passport in 7 to 10 days. This can be done at the time you apply for the passport.
Q: I heard that the passport requirements for travel to Mexico recently changed. What are the new rules?
A: Until 2007, American travelers returning from Canada, Mexico, Bermuda or the Caribbean needed only to present a driver's license or birth certificate to re-enter the country. While that system worked at one time, the attacks of September 11, 2001, revealed the necessity to tighten the requirements for entry in the U.S. Upon the recommendation of the 9/11 Commission, Congress mandated the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) in 2004 to strengthen border security. As part of this program, beginning January 23, 2007, U.S. citizens returning from Canada, Mexico, Bermuda or the Caribbean need a passport for re-entry. While the State Department thought it was prepared for the increase in demand for passports, it soon found out it wasn't. The backlog left many Americans with travel plans biting their nails as their travel date arrived but their passport didn't. Within the next year, the State Department plans to hire hundreds of new employees to hurry the processing. The requirements for re-entry have been loosened through September 30, 2007. Until that time, Americans traveling by air who have applied for, but not yet received, their passports can re-enter by presenting a government- issued photo ID and a proof of application from the Department of State. After September 30, a passport will again be required.