A passport is an internationally recognized travel document that verifies the identity and nationality of the bearer. A valid U.S. passport is required to enter and leave most foreign countries. Only the U.S. Department of State has the authority to grant, issue, or verify United States passports.
Although AAA cannot issue passports, you can obtain passport photos at your local AAA office.
It's Time to Travel. Do you need a passport?
(Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, and the Caribbean)
Implemented on January 23, 2007, ALL PERSONS traveling by air between the United States and Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, and the Caribbean region are required to present a passport or other valid travel document to enter or re-enter the United States.
LAND AND SEA TRAVEL
The following summarizes information available on the Department of Homeland Security’s website.
JANUARY 31, 2008
If you are planning any travel to these destinations, please review the U.S. Department of State's new requirements before traveling. If you need a passport or need to renew a passport, there is information below with access to further information.
U.S. and Canadian citizens will need to present either a WHTI-compliant document, or a government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license, plus proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate. DHS also proposes to begin alternative procedures for U.S. and Canadian children at that time.
At a later date, to be determined, the departments will implement the full requirements of the land and sea phase of WHTI. The proposed rules require most U.S. citizens entering the United States at sea or land ports of entry to have either a U.S. passport; a U.S. passport card; a trusted traveler card such as NEXUS, FAST, or SENTRI; a valid Merchant Mariner Document (MMD) when traveling in conjunction with official maritime business; or a valid U.S. Military identification card when traveling on official orders.
Note: The passport requirement does NOT apply to U.S. citizens traveling to or returning directly from a U.S. territory.
Getting a Passport for The First Time
To obtain a passport for the first time, you will need to apply in person to one of the many passport acceptance facilities located throughout the United States with two passport photos, proof of U.S. citizenship, and a valid form of photo identification such as a driver's license.
Plan ahead to make sure your travel plans are not impacted by the new requirements. While not difficult, it does take some time, usually about 6 weeks, to get a new passport, so follow these steps to get yours ahead of time.
- Visit your local AAA Office to obtain your passport photo. No appointment needed. AAA member price $7.00 plus tax; nonmembers $12.95 plus tax.
- Review the online guide provided by the U.S. Department of State on getting one for the first time.
- How to apply, documentation required, and download the required application
New online passport procedures announced designed to speed processing and reducing data entry errors.
Applicants now can enter personal information through a secure online site and print completed forms, which feature a bar code that is scanned during the passport processing stage. After forms are printed, the site automatically deletes applicant information to ensure privacy.
Forms are available by accessing www.travel.state.gov/passport and then click on "Application for Passport: DS-11" or click here (scroll to the bottom of page). Completed forms, along with appropriate supporting documents and passport fees, can be submitted at any of the federal processing facilities in the country.
Expedited service (If traveling or needing passport for visas within 14 days)
- Where to Apply in the US
- Where to Apply Abroad
Renewing Your Passport If you need to renew your passport, you may do so by mail if: your most recent passport is available to submit and is not damaged; you received the passport within the past 15 years; you were over age 16 when it was issued; you still have the same name, or can legally document your name change. For more information on how to renew a passport, please click here.
U.S. Passport Card
U.S. Passport Card applications accepted beginning Feb 1, 2008
U.S. citizens may begin applying in advance for the new U.S. Passport Card beginning February 1, 2008, in anticipation of land border travel document requirements. We expect cards will be available and mailed to applicants in spring 2008.
The passport card will facilitate entry and expedite document processing at U.S. land and sea ports-of-entry when arriving from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda. The card may not be used to travel by air. It will otherwise carry the rights and privileges of the U.S. passport book and will be adjudicated to the exact same standards.
The Department of State is issuing this passport card in response to the needs of border resident communities for a less expensive and more portable alternative to the traditional passport book. The card will have the same validity period as a passport book: 10 years for an adult, five for children 15 and younger. For adults who already have a passport book, they may apply for the card as a passport renewal and pay only $20. First-time applicants will pay $45 for adult cards and $35 for children.
To facilitate the frequent travel of U.S. citizens living in border communities and to meet DHS’s operational needs at land borders, the passport card will contain a vicinity-read radio frequency identification (RFID) chip. This chip will link the card to a stored record in secure government databases. There will be no personal information written to the RFID chip itself.