If you're going anywhere outside the United States of America, you really can't leave home without it. As of January 2007, everyone -- including American citizens -- who travel by air between the US to Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean, Bermuda, Central and South America is required to have a valid passport. (For the few situations where applicable, you can instead use an Air NEXUS card, US Coast Guard Merchant Mariner Document or an Alien Registration Card.) The same rules now apply to anyone entering the country by any method -- air, land, sea, transporter beam or dirt border tunnel.
In case you lose your driver's license, you can use your passport as your primary photo ID. It will work for travel, to purchase alcohol... and will also make it a lot simpler to get your driver's license replaced!
For an adult, the total passport application fee is currently $140. But if you wait until the last minute, you'll have to pay an extra $60 for expedited service (plus even more for overnight delivery fees), to get your travel document in about two weeks.
It can actually take more time than you expect to simply apply for your passport. If this is your first time applying for a passport (and therefore don't have an expired passport), you will need to get your certified birth certificate issued by the city, county or state where you were born -- a process that can take a couple weeks on its own.
No more frowning, glassy-eyed look on your passport photo! With the advent of digital cameras and photo-quality printers at home, you can primp and pose and get a picture that actually looks like you. Then just print out two identical 2"x2" copies on quality photo paper. (See the official guidelines here.)
Have you been dreaming of a cruise to Alaska? Many cruise lines originate or stop in Canada on the way, so your passport will make the voyage possible. Ditto the Caribbean cruises that drop anchor in places like Jamaica, St Maarten, Grand Cayman and Mexico.
Having your travel documents in order will help in the event that a friend or family member abroad has an emergency, or, worse yet, dies. This just doesn't only include those who live in a foreign country -- it could be someone who's simply on vacation.
If you're considering adopting from abroad, you will need a passport to check out various countries and, of course, to go meet your child. (Not looking to be a mom? Maybe a friend could use your help and moral support.)
Whether your best buddy has enough mileage points to take the both of you to Australia or you just want to scoot over the border for some authentic margaritas, if you have your passport, there's nothing holding you back.
There's something about simply having your passport in hand that makes you feel so free and so cosmopolitan. For the next ten years, you'll be ready to go anywhere, do anything. We think that anything so empowering and offering so much potential is money well spent.
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