Saturday, July 28, 2018

Adventures in Passporting

I've been putting this chore off for a bit.....getting my passport.
I just don't like dealing with bureaucracy and forms.

So first off I had to go find out what I needed in terms of paperwork to apply for a passport.

* Driver's license or some other form of ID.  Check!
* Birth Certificate.  Check!  Wait.....not check.

What they use to give you in the state of Virginia where I was born can't be used now for a birth certificate.  It was fine back in the day for applying for a SS card and getting into school as a child, but no, it's too old and dated and doesn't have a raised seal.

If I was going to VA soon or lived there getting a birth certificate would be a piece of cake.  I could have just gone into any VA DMV office, filled out a form, paid $14 and bingo, bango, gotten a birth certificate on the spot.
Problem is I am not in VA so you have to mail away to the Vital Statistics Dept. in Richmond and wait for them to do the search, print one out and mail it off to you.  Which might take up to 2 months?
And then I still have to apply for the passport and wait for that to get back to me too?  bleh.

So I spent the BIG MONEY and used a service.  They insisted on overnight UPS too. ugh.
So the UPS guy is at my door wanting a signature and then hands this mangled mess of an envelop e to me.......

I won't show you the birth certificate because well, that's personal info.  But I can assure you that even though it was still in one piece it looked as mangled as the envelope it was in.
So we had to press the certificate under a stack of heavy books....luckily we have quite a few of those in Hubs library. ;-)

Back to my list of what's needed.......

* Obtain  a passport photo.
So I had three options here-photo from Rite-Aid, photo from CVS or photo taken at PO where the application had to be turned in.  I went with Rite-Aid as it was the least expensive option after using a coupon and my 20% Wellness discount.
They had a new cashier take it with supervision.  The photo looked a little too big to me but I paid and left with it.

Get to the PO to put my application in and the lady says that photo's too big!  FYI-from the top of your head to your chin can't be any longer than 2".  She had a template of an oval of a head that is the correct size and yep, this photo was waaaay too big!
So I paid another $15 for her to take another photo. sigh

I stopped in at Rite-Aid and let them know their photos don't meet the requirements and showed them the difference between the photos they took and the extra one from the PO that I got to keep.
So I got a refund of the $5.94 I spent.
Photo done.  Check!

*  Fill out the application.
That was easier said than done.  I had to fill the paperwork out THREE TIMES before I got it right.
Left stuff off the first two times and didn't catch it before printing it all out. ugh.
Three times the charm though.  Check!

Made an appointment to put the application in/take the photo.
The process was pretty quick but I had a scare when I handed her my birth certificate.  It's suppose to have a raised official seal on it.  Hubs and I couldn't find a raised seal when we inspected the document when it arrived so I thought maybe VA doesn't do a raised seal on their birth certificates(It does have a watermark though).

The PO lady kept rubbing the certificate feeling for a raised seal(there were several places on it with seals).  I started panicking but then she turned the certificate over and there was a larger seal in the middle on the back that was raised.  Thank the Lord!

I paid $110 to the US State Department and $50 to the USPS.  I am out $210 between those checks and the $50 paid to the service for the birth certificate.

So now we wait......
And when the document arrives this large nosed beast will be able to get back into the country when and if she leaves it.



  1. LOL, your nose is not big. And, your head is not too big. CVS person did not know what she was doing.

    I had to get a birth certificate years ago. It never arrived, so I had to pay again. I always wonder who has my birth certificate.

    When we went to Canada, we just drove across. I don't think anyone even asked us anything. When did a person start needing a passport to get into Canada?

    I hate forms and ordeals.

    1. After 9-11(about 2008-2009)the State Dept. started requiring passport for travel to Canada and Mexico. Actually you can LEAVE the US w/out a passport but you can't get back IN.

  2. We just went through this process too. I just about had a heart attack when they said they would be mailing the original of our birth certificates in. That was my "Uh, what?" moment. But fortunately they came back unscathed a few weeks later. Just a side note, if you're a AAA member and near an office, they'll do PP photos for free!

    1. Shannon,
      The AAA does them for free?

    2. Yup! Just need a current membership card to show. They did both of ours and then my neighbor hauled in 9 of her family members for a trip they're planning over the holidays. Also, the AAA office has a revolving event for tsa-pre-check application so that's handy as well. I like to make our memberships pay for themselves. 😀

  3. Well that was very interesting. We don't have updated passports as we had no intention of leaving the country, however, lately the idea of moving to Canada has crossed our minds a time or two. Are you planning an overseas trip?

    1. Canada immigration laws are pretty tough so unless you have a special skill that can't be filled by a Canadian(basically you can't go there and take a job from a Canadian citizen), have family there already to sponsor you or qualify for a special program(certain provinces or be a refuge)don't hold your breath. Plus you hate cold weather so there is that. lolz
      No overseas plans yet but the wheels are in motion now. ;-)

  4. Are you planning on traveling internationally too? If not, you could have gone with a passport card. It is a limited travel document, valid only for land and sea travel within North America (Canada, the United States, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda). It cannot be used for international air travel. Hubs used to go in and out of Canada a lot and had one of these. As for myself, I have a regular passport as I dream of eventually traveling the world again. Hey, a girl can dream! Lol

    1. "....traveling the world again."
      So why haven't we heard about these travels yet???

    2. I'll need to make it a topic in one of my posts! Yes, I have traveled the world and even lived abroad for a number of years.

  5. Thanks for the tutorial. We want to go to Canada but I have been dreading doing passports for a family of 4. I know we have everyone birth certificate, so that's one less worry, but isn't there some sort of pass card system too if you aren't flying anywhere? I thought it was a little cheaper. If we spend $400 on passports I don't think we can afford to go anywhere lol.

    1. You can get a passport card, a regular passport or both.
      The card is valid for entering the United States at land border crossings and sea ports-of-entry from:
      The Caribbean
      It is not valid for flights outside the US, even Canada or Mexico. Ask Hubs how he knows that. lolz

      The card cost $30 to the State Dept. plus if you use the PO as the agency to apply it's $35 to the USPS. The photo will cost you additional $.

      The reg. passport is $110 to the State Dept. and $35 to the PO if you use them, plus your photo cost.

      The fee for both the reg. passport and the card one is $140 to the State Dept. plus the agency fee(PO is $35)and the photo cost.

      To renew a passport costs the same $110 but you must renew by mail, not at the PO, etc.

  6. Once you take the amount you have paid and divided it by 10 years, then it doesn't seem so bad.

  7. My friend who's a border patrol officer said that you can also get an enhanced driver's licence that allows you to travel to & from Canada & Mexico. No need for a passport.
    Thank you for sharing the info. I need to complete our passport forms too. I checked our photos that we took at Walgreens and it seems to fit into the space on application. Let's hope its accepted.

    1. Yes I've seen that too, but here if you can get the WHTI or enchanced license in PA it cost almost as much as the passport card($60).

  8. Replies
    1. Ah thanks Jeanie! I will say it is better than the one the guy at R-A took. lolz

  9. I thought you looked very nice in your passport photo. Often they aren't so good.

  10. Hey that is a great picture,Mine is like scary witchy hair!


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