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What is a Passport?

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US Passport

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Question: What is a Passport?
Answer: A passport is an easily recognized travel document that identifies you and authorizes travel. You generally need a passport to enter and return to the US from any other countries (learn more about that below). The passport itself is a small booklet containing your photo, name, residence in the United States, and plenty of blank pages awaiting stamps; your passport will usually be stamped with an official seal as you enter or leave other countries, and a passport is generally valid for ten years.

How to Get a Passport

Need to get your first US passport? Much easier than you might think, provided your US citizenship is fairly straightforward... learn how to do it:

You'll need a birth certificate to make applying for a passport super simple -- if you don't have a birth certificate for whatever reason (born abroad or born at home, for instance, or your US citizenship is not fairly straightforward), you can still get a passport; learn how to do it:

How to Rush a Passport Yourself

Need a passport in a hurry? You absolutely can get one, and you absolutely do not have to pay someone else to get you a passport in a hurry. This writer has done it (I got a passport the same day I applied, and I did it myself). Learn how to do it:

How to Check on Your Passport Status

The government provides a simple way to check on your passport application status online -- eases your mind as the countdown to travel approaches. Learn how to do it:

Where Do You Need a Passport?

The answer is a bit more complicated than it seems -- you do not need a passport to drive to Mexico or Canada, for instance, provided you have a PASS card or, if you live in the right state, and enhanced driver's license, or a military id, or... yeah, not that uncomplicated; Learn about it:

Learn More About Travel Documents

Learn which travel documents you may need for student travel -- tourism and work visa, id, travel immunizations record and international driver's license -- where and when you'll need them and how to get them.

Learn specifically about Mexico travel documents, about Mexico and Canada travel and the new passport rules, and about the new PASS card and other possible passport "substitutes,", too.

Enjoy the journey!

You may also want to learn about new current passport rules, where you need a passport and the PASS passport card and other passport substitutes news; you also may want to know about getting an expedited passport fee refunded.

Return to Student Travel Documents | Return to Passport News

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