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It’s time to renew my passport.

I’m not happy about this. Renewing my passport means I have to start all over with stamps.  And it’s going to be stiff and brand-new looking, with an RFID chip in it. My old passport doesn’t have the chip in it.  This occasionally causes problems with airport personnel trying to check me in, which is amusing.

Although on the bright side, I’ll get a new picture, maybe one that actually looks like me so security doesn’t do a double take every time they compare me with my passport photo.

I’ve heard the rumor that US passport fees are going to go up in the near future. It’s already $100 for an adult passport – so if you’re thinking about getting one or will need yours renewed soon, get on that and do it now.

If you don’t have a passport yet, go get one. Now. And then use it.  The United States has the smallest percentage of passport holders of any developed nation.  Everyone travels more than we do.  And with all of our nation’s wealth and affluence, that’s just sad.

So…how does one go about procuring a passport?  Very simple.

  1. Go to the US Government passport page. Find and fill out the proper form. If you’re over sixteen, you’ll be getting an adult passport, and if you’re under sixteen you’ll be getting a child’s passport, which is only good for five years.  You can either fill out the forms on the computer, or print out blank ones to fill in by hand.
  2. Get your passport photos taken.  It’s possible to do this yourself – look up how to do it if you’re really interested.  Or let a professional do it for you at a place like Walgreens, Ritz Photo, Meijer, etc.
  3. You can go here to search for the nearest place to apply for a passport.  Most post offices and government buildings will do it.
  4. Follow the directions on your form and on the website.  You’ll need to bring proper ID with you when you apply (and you must apply in person, unless you’re only renewing an adult passport.)  You must have either a previous passport or a certified birth certificate, naturalization certificate, or certificate of citizenship to prove that you’re a US citizen.
  5. Submit a photocopy of your identification.
  6. Give them money.  Rates are supposed to be going up, so get in there soon.
  7. Give ’em your two passport-sized photos that fit all the specs.  (See above.)
  8. Sign on the line. Don’t sign the form until they tell you to.
  9. Become a proud passport holder. –Once they send it you, ages later.

Win.  You’re now authorized to travel many places on the globe, with the exception of Cuba.  Border Patrol will be keepin’ a close eye on you if you travel to the Middle East for any reason, and Russia’s visa laws are silly.  Luckily, you can pay people to “sponsor’ you on a visitor visa so Russia really isn’t a problem, just more difficult. But you now have one of the best passports on earth–many countries don’t require visas for Americans to visit.  Do you feel lucky? Good.  Don’t take it for granted.  Try talking to someone from a third-world country and ask what countries welcome them in with open arms.

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