International Studies and Programs

Do I need a passport?

 

I'm traveling to Mexico or Canada. Do I need a U.S. Passport?

Yes. If you're traveling by land or by sea, you can use a U.S. Passport Card. If you're traveling by air, you'll need a U.S. Passport Book.

I’m not traveling – do I need a U.S. Passport?

Technically, no, you do not need a U.S. Passport if you’re not planning to travel. However, there are a number of very good reasons to go ahead and apply for one now, even if international travel plans are not in your near future.

Passports serve as proof of citizenship. In Missouri, a birth certificate or other proof of citizenship is required when applying for or renewing a driver’s license. A U.S. Passport Card can be obtained from our office for less than $70, including photos and execution fees, and it fits quite nicely in your purse or wallet, and you can finally stop searching frantically for your birth certificate when it’s time to renew your driver’s license. As an added bonus, even after its expiration date, a U.S. Passport Card still serves as proof of citizenship.

Fees can change with little notice. In the summer of 2010, Passport Application Acceptance Facilities across the nation received a notice that many U.S. Passport application fees would be increasing – some as much as $82. The effective date of the increase was two weeks from the date the letter was sent, leaving many people in a rush to apply for a U.S. Passport before the price hike.

It’s there when you do need to travel. As a Passport Application Acceptance Facility manager, every single day I hear from at least one person who needs to get a U.S. Passport “in a hurry.” Sometimes that hurry is five weeks from now. Sometimes it’s five days. The longer you wait to apply, and the sooner you need your passport, the more expensive the process becomes. If you need to expedite your application, the additional fees (on top of the already expensive application fees) start at $72.85 per application, including overnight return delivery. Those fees, which are set by the U.S. Department of State, can add up very quickly. If you need a U.S. Passport Book or Card sooner than the two-to-three week processing time frame of an expedited application, you’ll need to apply in person at the nearest Regional Passport Agency (in the case of St. Louis, the nearest office is in Chicago) or use an expensive courier service – and you’ll still have to pay the application and expedited processing fees on top of any other expenses incurred.

There’s really no reason not to apply for a U.S. Passport Book or U.S. Passport Card – call us at (314) 516-7297 to set up an appointment today!