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Study Abroad Q&A: What To Do If You Need To Get or Renew a Passport

Check. Accepted into a program? Double check. Have a passport? Oh yeah, that. Stop right there, anxious adventuress. You won’t be boarding a plane anytime soon without a passport. If this is your first time traveling outside of the country chances are you don’t have one. Now, there is no need to stress out about this one. As long as you give yourself enough time to go through the process, you’ll receive a passport and its crisp, ready-to-be-stamped pages in no time.

What is a passport?
A passport is a travel document issued by the U.S. government for U.S. citizens. It acts as your identification when checking in and out of foreign countries.

How do I apply for one?
In order to receive a passport, you have to apply for one in an authorized passport office. Authorized locations range from your local post office and public library to municipal government offices. The cost of a new passport is around $100 and it’s recommended that you allow one month for your application to be processed.

What should I bring when I apply?
Before you clear your schedule to visit your local authorized passport office, there are a few prerequisites you have to accomplish first.

• Make sure you have evidence of citizenship available, such as your birth certificate or social security card.
• You must also have your driver’s license or other current form of identification handy.
• You’ll need to photocopy the front and back of these identification documents onto the same side of a plain piece of 8 ½ X 11 standard stock white paper before you apply.
• Provide one passport photo that must be in color, 2 X 2 inches, taken within the last six months, and in front of a plain white/off-white background. It’s best to take these at your local Walgreens/ CVS-like pharmacy.
For more information about applying for a passport for your first time, visit the government travel website here.

The good thing is once you have a passport, you have it for the next 10 years. However, if your passport has already expired, it’s time for a renewal. Visit the government website here to apply for a new passport via online or mail as long as it fits the following criteria:

 • Your old passport can be submitted with your application.
• Your old passport was issued after you were 16-years-old.
• Your old passport was issued within the last 15 years.
• Your old passport is registered under your current name.

As long as it wasn’t lost or stolen, you should be able to apply for a new passport without having to go in, unless you received it when you younger than 16-years-old. And, in the unfortunate case that your passport was lost or stolen, you can call this emergency number, (877) 487-2778, or visit the government website here for more information on what to do next.

When traveling abroad, your passport is your most prized possession. You should always keep it as safe as possible, and never use it as your primary form of identification when going out to the discotecas at night (your driver’s license can still be used for that). Now get going with the application process and draw another checkmark on your study abroad to-do list.

HC Love,

Nicole, Your HC Travel Expert

Nicole is a senior at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism and Spanish. A native of the Chicago suburbs, she is an editor for the metro section at the Daily Iowan and writes Monday night recaps of her favorite TV show (and guilty pleasure) 'Gossip Girl' on Hollywoodlife.com. She spent this last summer in New York City interning at Hollywoodlife.com and a New York-based lifestyle and travel magazine, the Resident. She's exclusively interviewed several celebrities such as Bethenny Frankel, Margaret Cho, Joel Madden & Cheryl Burke. After graduation Nicole plans on returning to NYC and pursuing her career in journalism. In her free time she enjoys doing yoga, reading, and spending time with family and friends. 
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