Just the thought of traveling gets me so pumped up. Dreaming of new adventures, the discovery of a new road to drive down, where to stop for a bite to eat and where to enjoy an awesome latte. Seriously, I’m driven by food sometimes 🙂 and not ashamed about it. Coffee and food are some of the priorities on my mind.
Before we go down that long and winding path we need to make sure we’re set for whatever the destination could be. Recently I booked my dream vacation but didn’t bother to double check my passport. Seriously, how often do we think about our passport? I am guilty of relying on the fact I still had time. I was a little off by a few months to say the least and it had already expired. No problem, I still have a few months before heading out so I was able to put the renewal application for the standard time and not have to expedite it. Did you know that some countries can deny your entry if your Passport has less than six months validity before it expires? Make sure you check this out before to save yourself the headache. If not, then don’t fret because there is an expedited option for you receive between 2 – 3 weeks.
As I mentioned, it had been more than a hot minute since I had done anything passport related and things have changed slightly. It had been so long that it was kinda like filling out the application for the first time. In all honesty things have changed quite a bit since, cough cough, the previous decade. Some say that people don’t learn by the experience or mistakes of others but I am here to disprove that. Here is what I learned the hard way so you get this done quicker than I did. Check out these 3 tips to save yourself the heartache of a disaster when applying for your passport.
The picture is THE major cause of stress for all of us. Primarily because this picture will make us smile or traumatize us until the next time to renew the passport. I learned the hard way that you are not allowed to smile in the official picture. Do you know hard it is to not smile when someone is taking your picture? Seems simple enough right? Feel free to test this out the next time someone is taking your picture. We have all become accustomed to flashing our trademark smiles once a camera is pointed at us. Practice your non toothy smile to determine which is your favorite and most flattering until you get it down. Practice makes perfect so you are prepared since you will not have many opportunities for a do over for government issued ids. They are not as patient as your friends who will take as many pics as you like.
The other vital detail for your picture is all about the hair. Most of us ladies are comforted by our hair. We all have a preference when it comes to our hairstyle after countless times of trial and error. Our hair can either make or break our day by providing that subtle boost of confidence. Yes, a bad hair day can be a little daunting for all of us even though some are hesitant to admit this. Now multiply that by 10 years and it will really matter. Do you get where I am coming from now? If you hair is down you need to make sure your ears are visible. Not sure who came up with that rule but it is a real rule. You need to show some ears which is not something you really consider as a make or break it detail for a picture.
The third and last tip is the most basic and simple of all. Be prepared by asking questions at the USPS or online. You can review the guidelines to your passport from the Department of the State directly. Make sure to understand are the correct steps for new obtaining a new Passport or the renewing your Passport directly from the source. Double check that all of the items that need to be sent with the application such as the expired passport, check with the full amount and your picture are included at the time of mailing.
Take your time to fill out the application
The second tip is to follow instructions. Make sure to take your time when filling out the application. Ideally you want to have this form filled out before sending it off so you don’t have to struggle last minute with every detail. You can obtain a copy, or two, of the form at your local post office so you can fill out before you arrive at the USPS, download the Passport Application form or you can use the form filler to complete the application online Passport Application . Make sure you get all the items that need to be sent with the application such as the expired passport, check with the full amount and your picture.
If you choose to fill out the application the old fashioned way make sure to use black ink. I typically write with blue ink because I love the contrast against the paper and it quite frankly it reminds me of the ocean. I was so intent in filling out the information correctly that I failed to see the instructions right before me to use Black Ink. I had to fill out another application because I used my favorite blue ink pen. Any errors need to only have a single strike through or the document will not be valid. They will not allow an x or multiple lines across the wrong information.
Learn from my mistakes. I did not prepare very well and had no idea of these new parameters. Long story short, my picture was turned down at the USPS because my smile was too big and my hair covered my ears. I was so ready to get this done, I ended up returning to the CVS where I got my picture and settle for a pretty bad picture. Post gym, hair up in a bun, no make up or my signature smile in sight. Not a picture I want to share with you here but will endure showing it only upon request. I will revel in the fact that I can console myself by looking at the previous passport when I feel ashamed about my current one.
Join me on my journey!