When we found out it was pretty definite that we’d be moving, the first thing we did was make appointments to get passports for the kids.
Since it can take 6-8 weeks from the time of application to get the passports back in the mail, we knew we couldn’t wait for final confirmation to start this process. We needed passports ASAP so that when the final date is decided, we’re ready to go.
Luckily for us, the Post Office about five minutes from our house has a passport office. I stopped in one morning, got the blank applications, made appointments, and was able to speak to someone directly about payment options and specifics.
Here’s what I learned:
1) Passport applications MUST be filled out with black ink. Don’t use blue ink on the first application, then read the directions, then have to go back to the Post Office for a new application. Not that I would know anything about that. Ahem.
2) Even though I was planning on bringing all 4 kids at once to turn in the paperwork, I had to make 4 individual appointments. This limited me on the available days we could book–there were only so many days with 4 openings right in a row. In addition, I didn’t want to take the kids out of school if I didn’t have to, so I wanted the last 4 appointments of the day. Basically that left me with a choice of 2 days in the month of November.
3) Both parents MUST be present to file the passport applications for a minor, or you have to have a notarized form from the parent who is not there saying that they approve of the passport applications. That meant Matt had to leave work one afternoon and meet us at the post office.
4) You have to have birth certificates for each child and those birth certificates are sent in to the State Dept along with the applications. If those are your only copies of the kids’ birth certificates, you will be without them for a few weeks until the passports are approved and the State Dept sends them back. Bear that in mind if there is any other reason you might need your child’s birth certificate during that time.
5) It’s less expensive to get the passport photos taken somewhere else in advance. We went to a Walgreens nearby a few days before our appointment and got all the photos done for about $40. It would have cost us closer to $60 and taken longer at the actual passport office if we hadn’t done it in advance.
6) Each passport costs $80, which you cannot pay with a credit or debit card at a Post Office. We had to have checks (an individual check for each application) or we could have gotten certified checks at the bank in advance.
7) In addition to the passport application fee, the Post Office collected a processing fee of $25 per application. This can be paid with a credit or debit card.
In all, it cost us about $460 for all four applications–$80 each for the actual passport, $25 each for the processing fee, and $10 or so each for the passport photos. The passports came back less than a month later, which was a great turnaround.
The kids were so excited to open their packages and check out their passports, and I am excited to have one (major) To-Do item checked off our moving list.