I have had a Passport for the last 9+ years, but never did have to use it because all my travel was right here in the US [lots of road trips all over the country, and quick flights to visit family]. But, since my Passport was going to expire in November, I figured it was just as well to get it renewed now, before my big Philippines trip.
Reality is, there are a bunch of things that can go wrong when getting your first Passport, or when renewing an existing Passport. These are a few of the things I did to avoid potential problems.
Start your passport renewall process long before you need to.
Even though I knew I was going to pay for expedited processing [see point below], I wanted to make sure that if there was a problem, that I had ample time to get it fixed before my desired travel dates. Starting your Passport application process early will help make sure there are no worries as you get closer to your desired travel date
Use the US State Department online form filler to complete your application paperwork.
This makes filling out your paperwork super easy, ensures it's legible, and you can print it all out when you are finished.
Yes, it's an extra $60 for expedited processing, but it's well worth the money if you want to make sure you get your passport application or renewall processed quickly.
Go to a reputable place to get your Passport photos taken.
Any quality drugstore, like CVS that is close to a Post Office will have Passport photo services, and will get it right the first time. Your Passport photos need to fit within very specific size parameters, so you want to make sure they are good pictures that aren't going to get rejected.
I got my renewall pictures taken at a CVS by my house [out in the sticks], and when I got to the Post Office that offered Passport services to have my paperwork and pictures reviewed, they found that my my pictures were outside of the acceptable parameters. So, I had to dash over to the CVS across the street from the Post Office to have them retaken.
Make an appointment at your local Post Office [USPS] location that offers Passport services.
This appointment will ensure that all of your paperwork is filled out correctly, your Passport pictures are the correct size, you can get a USPS money order to pay for your Passport processing fees, and you can mail your paperwork when finished with your appointment. I can't begin to stress how worth it this step is to take. Can you imagine mailing off all your Passport paperwork, waiting weeks for a response, only to find out your application was rejected because you filled something out incorrectly, or your pictures weren't the correct size?
Click Here for Post Office locator where you can find Post Offices that offer Passport services.
Check your Passport application status online.
About a week after you mail off your Passport application paperwork, you will be able to check the status of your Passport application online.