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Safety Tips, Fees and
Procedures for Getting Your U.S. Passport

Applying for your U.S. passport is one of the many steps you take in your journey to teaching English in Japan. Although it's a relatively painless process, it's one you need to take care of right away as the professing time can be significant. More on this below.

U.S. Passport - One of the Most Valuable Travel Items You NeedU.S. Passport - The Most Valuable Items You Need When Traveling

Do yourself a favor and don’t wait until the last minute to apply for one. It usually takes 5 to 7 weeks so it’s one of the first things you need to knockoff your “to do” list. If you are in a time pinch Uncle Sam has an expedited  solution.

Expedited passport processing is available for travelers with upcoming travel plans. Expect the time frame to be 3 weeks. An additional $60 is required for the expedited government fee.

If you need warp speed on your passport you can get it but it will cost you quite a bit. Here is the run down from warp 9 to impulse power.(Star Trek analogy.) These numbers are from  Rush My Passport they have partnered with FedEx to handle the delivery.

  • 1 business day $449 
  • 2 business days $349 
  • 3 to 5 business days $249 
  • 6 to 7 business days $169 
  • 8 to 10 days $119

U.S. Passport Fees - 2019

As of 2019 the new passport application fees are a $110 application fee and a $35 surcharge fee. The grand total is $145 - these are fees for those 16 years of age or older. Children get by for $115 USD. If your passport is lost, ripped-off or damaged the fee is still $145.  

If you’re applying for the first time you need to appear in person. You can get your passport in 2 weeks flat by paying an additional $60 for their expedite service.

Here’s what you need to do to get a U.S. passport:

1. Fill out your passport application.

U.S. Passport Application link.
2. Have 2 passport size (2”X 2”) photos taken. Your local Kinko’s can fix you up. Make sure the photos you use for your passport are recent.

  • Don’t do anything that makes you difficult to recognize. No sunglasses, hats etc.

  • Make sure you tell the person taking it that it’s for your passport. (The background should be white or off-white and you should be looking directly at the camera.) The last thing you want is a delay in getting your passport and why risk the hassles with Japanese immigration?

  • People who wear glasses should look down slightly to eliminate glare from the lenses. (If you submit one with glare it will probably be rejected.)

  • 3. Bring your original birth certificate or a certified copy of one. If you don’t have one contact your state’s Department of Vital Statistics. Here’s the link to their location finder.

    4. Bring some kind of proof of identity like your drivers license. The U.S. Passport Information Service can answer any of your other questions about it. Their service number is 1-900-225-1234. Here is the link that will help you find the agency nearest you that where you can apply for your U.S. Passports.

Canadian Passport Link

U.K. Passport Link

Australian Passport Link

A Super Quick Way to Spend $145 USD. Disaster waiting to happen. Spill Coffee on Your Passport - Wiping out the RFID Chip in it. Renewal Cost - $145A Super Quick Way to Spend $145 USD! Disaster waiting to happen. Spill Coffee on Your Passport - Wiping out the RFID Chip inside of it.  Renewal Cost - $145.

Passport Safety Tips

  • Keep your passport on you while you travel. Don’t pack it in a bag you’ll check.

  • Make a couple copies of the first 2 pages of your passport & keep one in your carry-on - the other in your wallet or purse. That way, if you lose your U.S. passport the U.S. Consulate can replace it within a business day. 

  • Don't keep your spare copies of your passport all in one place. As if you lose that one safe place for storing your passport copies you lose it all. So in general keep them separated. 

  • When you're not using your passport, for example you're just out shopping, buying gifts etc., you actually don't need your passport so it is best to keep it locked up in a safe in your hotel room. Think of of it this way, what a thief can't see, he basically can't steal.

  • Your passport is the most valuable possession you have when you are travelling. All the cash in the world won't get you through customs and on your plane. 

  • There is also a place in your U.S. passport where you can write your address so if it is lost and some honest soul returns it to the police or to the address you wrote in your passport, you can get it back right away. Write your contact info in pencil so that if your address changes you can change it in your passport.

  • Passports are like little kids: you got to take care of them.  Water damage can mess up the RFID chip embedded in the passport thus it can't be read by immigration computers  and it also makes entry exit stamps blurry making it unfit for travel. If your passport is torn in anyway it is also deemed unfit. A great idea is to put your passport in a water proof case. Spilled a beer on it? No problem. 

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