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Getting Your Passport – How and What Kind?

Any citizen wishing to visit a foreign country must have a passport to enter and leave that country as well as to get back into the United States. Instructions for getting a passport are quite specific. The passport must have a picture of the citizen, and give one’s name, social security number, sex, date and place of birth. Ordinary passports expire in ten years and must be renewed. It is now possible to fill out an application form for a new or renewed passport on the Internet. The form is then printed out, on the computer, to be signed. Two pictures and the fee must accompany the application. If it is for a renewal the old passport must also be surrendered.

There are many different types of passports, depending on the status of the people involved. The majority of passports issued are Ordinary, with the others titled Official, Diplomatic, Emergency, Collective and Family. The most popular passports issued are Ordinary, which are for the average citizen. With the heavy increase in foreign travel, the year 2007 showed a total of over eighteen million United States Passports issued.

For a family going on vacation, the passport most requested is the Family passport. This passport is issued to the head of the family with the other members’ names attached. This means that no one except the person whose name is listed can use it. The other family members cannot use the passport by themselves. This is a good safeguard for protection of the children, keeping them from wandering off or having problems.

Many times groups of adults or children will go together on tours, mercy projects, or other types of outings. For them the Collective passport is excellent. It is in the name of the head of the group and provides a good method of keeping the group together safely. No one except the person with the name on the passport can use it.

It is much easier to obtain a passport these days than it was in the past. Due to the huge increase in travel, the government has sped up their method of issuing a passport. With security concerns they are very careful when issuing the passports to scrutinize them very carefully. Passports can be applied for at post offices, most county recorders offices and on the Internet. Emergency passports can be obtained on the same day or within twenty-four hours under special circumstances.

There is a difference between a Visa and a passport, which some people do not understand. A Visa is issued by the country one is visiting and allows them to stay a certain length of time. It must be obtained from the country being visited. Students who are studying overseas or Americans who are working there often use this. One still has to have a passport.

Recognizing the problems that Americans run into overseas, the State Department has established a special section to give assistance. It is called the Office of American Citizens Services and Crisis Management (ACS). In coordination with the American consulates and embassies, they provide various emergency services for American citizens.