Late last summer, our family was at the local USPS to (finally!) get passports for the four of us, and oh yes, it was government at its finest! I just don’t know if you could find more inefficiency. Oh wait, I believe the four and a half hour wait at the DMV a few years ago simply to renew my drivers license tops this passport application experience, but I digress.
I am going to provide the real steps for applying for a passport. And you won’t find this easy 20-step guide on any of the government web pages.
Step 1. Gather all (applicable) birth certificates, drivers licenses, proof of citizenship, marriage license, previous passports, etc. etc. <–pretty much everything in your filing cabinet
Step 2. Make copies of everything gathered in Step 1, and make two copies of your drivers license. <–We already had one copy of our DLs and for only $1 a copy–such a deal!–they charged us to make an additional copy. ?
Step 3. Fill out every field you possibly can on the electronic (or paper) application form. <–Even if the internet form entry does not require a certain field (e.g., middle name), fill it in anyway. We wasted a lot of time during our appointment manually filling in what the website lets you skip. Because why would I want to give the US government more information about my family than necessary? Yes, I know, I’m sure they already know more about us than we know about ourselves. But still.
Step 4. Print out several copies of your completed forms.
Step 5. Have a paper form of payment for each application. Example, if you are going to be presenting four applications, ensure you have four checks or four money orders. <–I doubt they take cash; I don’t see them stapling paper money onto the application, because that’s what they do with the paper check or money order. I only had two paper checks–because I didn’t read a handy guide such as this one!–so we used those on the boys’ applications, and Gerald and I had to purchase two money orders for our applications. How convenient that the USPS sells money orders! Hmm…
Step 6. Have a form of payment for any non-passport application items <–Say you want to have them do the passport photos there and/or you want to purchase a book of stamps while you’re there which I forgot to do (WHILE I WAS RIGHT THERE).
Step 7. Probably take your passport photos on your own or go
anywhere somewhere else and bring them to the passport office. <–We figured having the USPS office take the photos right there would be more convenient. Um… no.
Step 8. Make an appointment at wherever place it is that does passport application processing in your area. <–Note this step can pretty much go anywhere in here from Step 1 before you hit Step 9. Just be prepared, my thirsty friends.
Step 9. Go to your appointment. <–And don’t be late!
Step 10. Wait.
Step 11. Wait.
Step 12. Wait
Step 13. Wait.
Step 14. Do everything you need to do – hand over paperwork (hopefully to be seen again), sign and swear (take that however you want), hand over payment, etc..
Step 15. Leave your appointment a little lighter <–You’re out some serious bucks, and you’re missing some of your originals. Some of your original documents (yes, birth certificates, naturalization papers) get sent to the US Department of State along with your application form. Thankfully, they do hand you back your drivers license.
Step 16. Make sure you have your drivers license before driving out of the parking lot.
Step 17. Leave.
Step 18. Wait.
Step 19. Wait.
Step 20. …