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jce2
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Went and started our passport process yesterday.  It will be interesting to see if this works as the experience wasn't quite what I expected.  First, I filled out the forms on-line on the official web-site.  Many of the fields indicated they were optional such as the date and destinations of your trip, emergency contact info. etc.  Yet when we got to the post office she had us fill that stuff in.  Next,  despite the application clearly telling us we needed black-and-white photocopies of both our birth certificates and licenses, she made her own copies of the license and simply took the original birth certificates.  I didn't wantr to challenge her too much as she was quite friendly and also seemed confident on what she was doing.  One note:  Do NOT write checks ahead of time as you will be paying to separate entities.  I had to write a separate check to the "Department of State" for each passport CARD ($30 each) and then write one single check for processing to the post office ($25 x number of passports).   Overall the process was quick and painless just not quite what I expected.  But if I get my passports all will be well.  She even gave me a number to call if I don't see them by early October!

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16 minutes ago, jce2 said:

Went and started our passport process yesterday.  It will be interesting to see if this works as the experience wasn't quite what I expected.  First, I filled out the forms on-line on the official web-site.  Many of the fields indicated they were optional such as the date and destinations of your trip, emergency contact info. etc.  Yet when we got to the post office she had us fill that stuff in.  Next,  despite the application clearly telling us we needed black-and-white photocopies of both our birth certificates and licenses, she made her own copies of the license and simply took the original birth certificates.  I didn't wantr to challenge her too much as she was quite friendly and also seemed confident on what she was doing.  One note:  Do NOT write checks ahead of time as you will be paying to separate entities.  I had to write a separate check to the "Department of State" for each passport ($30 each) and thenm write one single check for processing to the post office ($25 x number of passports).   Overall the process was quick and painless just not quite what I expected.  But if I get my passports all will be well.  She even gave me a number to call if I don't see them by early October!

I haven't updated my passport for a few years, but I recall it being closer to $100 than $30.  Are you military or senior?  Do certain groups get discounted passports?

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1 minute ago, RCVoyager said:

I haven't updated my passport for a few years, but I recall it being closer to $100 than $30.  Are you military or senior?  Do certain groups get discounted passports?

I am just getting the passport cards and not the booklets as I have no plans for international travel outside of cruising in the near future.

 

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That sounds normal. You'll receive your documents back separately from the cards themselves. When you renew, you'll be able to do it through the mail, so it will be cheaper and faster. 

My mother in law just renewed her passport and it only took 10 days, which surprised me as that's surprisingly fast. My son's renewal, which is like a new application since he's under 16 took 3 weeks, so my guess is that it won't take the 6-8 weeks that they claim. 

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Everything you experienced is normal.  The people at the post office do this often so they know what is likely to cause delays or problems with applications, so listen to their advice.  That's also why I'm glad we got our photos there, because they see the people coming back in to reapply because their photo was rejected so they immediately noticed slight problems with our photos before printing them out.  Yes, they make their own photocopies and, like you said, there are payments going to the Dept of State and then other payments going to the place you applied at.  I was ok with that since we were able to put the USPS's fee on a card and get some miles out of it.  They also do send in the original birth certificates, you get them back in a separate mailing from your passports.

Personal opinion, even if you are only getting them to cruise I would have (and did) still gotten the books.  Being able to board the ship without your birth certificate is one perk of having a passport, but a bigger one is the ability to fly back to the US from a foreign country in case of emergency.  You can't do that with the card so if you had a medical emergency or missed the boat you will still be knocking at the consulate door for emergency passports.  Plus, I don't know if I might decide in 8 years to do a Trans-Atlantic and need to fly back from Europe, but I know that is an option.

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1 hour ago, NS8VN said:

 

Personal opinion, even if you are only getting them to cruise I would have (and did) still gotten the books.  Being able to board the ship without your birth certificate is one perk of having a passport, but a bigger one is the ability to fly back to the US from a foreign country in case of emergency.  You can't do that with the card so if you had a medical emergency or missed the boat you will still be knocking at the consulate door for emergency passports.

I agree, we always get the books for that very reason and almost all of our vacations are cruises. Also if you are a AAA or CAA member, you can get your photos at the local office and they know EXACTLY what the State Dept. requires!

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7 hours ago, DocLC said:

That sounds normal. You'll receive your documents back separately from the cards themselves. When you renew, you'll be able to do it through the mail, so it will be cheaper and faster. 

My mother in law just renewed her passport and it only took 10 days, which surprised me as that's surprisingly fast. My son's renewal, which is like a new application since he's under 16 took 3 weeks, so my guess is that it won't take the 6-8 weeks that they claim. 

New passport cards for my wife and self came back in under three weeks.

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They have really improved the process in New Zealand over the last 5 years. When I first got my passport (many years ago) it involved a lot of paper work, getting documents cited by JPs etc etc. Now it can all be done on-line including uploading your own photo etc (As you upload it it checks to see if it meets the requirements as far as background and being clear etc goes). I seem to also remember it taking about 5 weeks to get my passport sent to me now it arrives in less than a week in most cases. We've also gone back to 10 year passports which is good so I won't have to do it for a few years yet.

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On 8/11/2017 at 8:17 AM, NS8VN said:

 

Personal opinion, even if you are only getting them to cruise I would have (and did) still gotten the books.  Being able to board the ship without your birth certificate is one perk of having a passport, but a bigger one is the ability to fly back to the US from a foreign country in case of emergency.  You can't do that with the card so if you had a medical emergency or missed the boat you will still be knocking at the consulate door for emergency passports.  Plus, I don't know if I might decide in 8 years to do a Trans-Atlantic and need to fly back from Europe, but I know that is an option.

totally agree! one other thing people don't think about is the countries you are visiting may require them and ask for them.

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Surprisingly, we got our passports processed and returned in under a month. Nice surprise.

However, something to keep in mind. Bring a copy of the passport application with the scale for the photos with you when you have them done. we learned the hard way that not everyone knows the correct scale and had to have them redone (albeit, the redos were free).

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