International Man of Mystery

Today was a momentous day for Frugal Boy.  We submitted his passport application to the State Department.  In 4-6 weeks he will hopefully have a small booklet that lets him travel to almost every country on planet Earth.

Minors must submit their applications in person with both adults present.

The checklist of required materials for a first time applicant is:

  1. A DS-11 Passport Application Form
  2. A certified birth certificate (no photocopies or public notary stamps)
  3. Money ($105)
  4. Parent’s photo identification (driver’s license)
  5. Parental consent (we had to swear an oath and we both had to be there)
  6. 2″x2″ color photo meeting certain requirements

I found the easiest way to fill out the form was through the online wizard.  It presents simple and easy to understand prompts and then uses the information to fill in the more confusing DS-11 form.

We chose to take the photo ourselves.  The main requirements are:

  • White or Off white background
  • No other people in the background
  • Head sized to be between 1-1 3/8″
  • Centered
  • Face unobscured
  • Both ears visible
  • Eyes open
  • Crisp without blurring
  • Unaltered by photo editing software
  • Neutral expression

This proved to be no easy feat with a rambunctious toddler, but after 40 or so shots we had three that showed promise.  I collaged them together and had a single 4×6 printed off at the nearest 1 hour photo for a grand cost of 31¢.  Most places that advertise passport photos are in the $10-$30 range (one guess where the children friendly places fall on that scale).

photoosThe passport office was inside the post office.  The man wasn’t confident that the photo we chose would pass muster, but the worst that would happen would be a letter from the state department asking for a new one.  We wouldn’t have to go back and apply in person again (sorry Shae, I know how much you love the bureaucratic process).

I thought Shae and I were really on top of our game by getting a passport for our son at such a young age, but I was quickly put to shame when the Indian couple standing in line behind us showed off their 20 day old infant.  I guess when grandma is a continent away, passports take on an increased priority.

Now the really important question.  Where should we go?

More information about passports, specifically children’s passports, can be found on the state department’s website.

ps. please have all your forms and required materials ready to go when you show up at the office.

pps. you can also make appointments at the office to cut the line.  I wish I knew that beforehand!

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