FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

Q: What is a passport?
A: A passport is an internationally recognized travel document attesting to the identity and nationality of the bearer. In essence, it is a request on the part of the issuing government that officials of foreign governments permit the bearer to travel or sojourn in their territories and to afford them all lawful aid and protection.

Q: Who can process passport applications?
A: Only Passport Services, Passport Agencies, Passport Agents of the Department of State, and Foreign Service posts designated by the U.S. Secretary of State have authority to grant, issue or verify passports.

Q: How do I get a passport? What materials do I need to have with me when I apply for a passport?
A: You need to come to the Clerk’s Office with the following items:

  • One passport photograph of yourself
  • The original or certified copy of your citizenship evidence (birth certificate, naturalization certificate, etc.)
  • A photocopy of your citizenship evidence (front and back if there is writing on both sides)
  • A valid form of photo identification, such as a driver’s license

Q: How much is the fee for a passport?
A: Please see our Fees & Charges on the Home page in the Quick Links box. Separate payments to the Clerks Office and to the Passport Agency are required.  Payment for the US Dept. of State must be in check form (personal, cashier check or money order).
Payment for the Clerk of Court may be made in cash, by major credit or debit card or by personal check for the full amount. Partial payments are not accepted.

Q: How do I get certified copies of my Naturalization papers in order to obtain a passport?
A: If you obtain copies through INS, it is will take 8 months. However, if you obtain the copies from National Archives Northeast Region, 380 Trapelo Rd., Waltham, MA 02452, it takes four days.

Q: What are the requirements for a passport photograph?
A: The passport photograph can be color only; must be two-inches by two-inches in overall size with a head image size of no less than one inch nor larger than 1 3/8-inch; must be a frontal, portrait-type view without dark glasses or a hat. The background should be white. The photographic paper must be able to undergo a temperature of 225 degrees for laminating. White backgrounds are needed for any digital photos.  Effective November 1, 2016 passport photos of applicants wearing eyeglasses will NOT be accepted.  Applicants are required to remove eye glasses when taking the photo unless a signed statement from a medical professional or health practitioner (such as surgeon or ophthalmologist) is accompanied with the application due to a recent surgery/procedure.

Q: Are vending machine photos or published pictures acceptable for passports?
A: Most vending machine photographs are not able to withstand the mounting temperatures and/or will not adhere properly to the passport page. Therefore, they are not acceptable. Newspaper and magazine prints also are not acceptable.

Q: How long does it take to get a passport?
A: That depends on the time of year submitted, because of the seasonal nature of travel. During peak travel periods, the normal processing time ranges from four to six weeks.

Q: Is special, expedited processing available?
A: Yes. Those who meet certain criteria can pay a surcharge for expedited processing that will guarantee completion by the Passport Agency in seven to ten working days after it receives the application. Renewals also may receive seven to ten working day processing with an expedite fee.

Q: I had a passport before, but it has expired. Can I simply renew it?
A: If the passport was issued within the past 15 years, and if you were 16 years or older when it was issued, you may apply with a renewal application (DS-82), available from this office or at www.travel.state.gov.  You will need one new passport photo, your old passport and a fee.  You will mail all of the above to the Passport Agency.  (Note:  This option is not available if the individual was a minor when issued the most recent passport.)

Q: Where can I obtain the first-time applicant (Form DS-11) or renewal (Form DS-82) form? 

A: The Form DS-11 used by a first-time applicant, all minors and applicant’s ineligible to use the DS-82 form may be obtained at any of the Clerk of Courts office locations or online from the U.S. Department of State’s website:  www.travel.state.govNote: This form must be submitted to the Clerk of Courts acceptance agents staff UNSIGNED.  DO NOT SIGN THE DS-11 FORM PRIOR TO YOUR ARRIVAL TO OUR OFFICE. 

    The Form DS-82 used by eligible individuals to renew their process may be obtained at any one of the Clerk of Courts office locations or online from the U.S. Department of State’s website:  www.travel.state.gov.  Please follow the form instructions and submit your renewal application to the address provided on the DS-82.

Q: What if I don’t have a copy of my birth certificate?
A: If you need a copy of your birth certificate, you can contact Vital Statistics via phone – (321) 454-7163/454-7111, fax – (321) 454-7164, or visit the VitalChek website at www.vitalchek.com.  If you have any further questions, we can instruct you about how to obtain a copy of your birth certificate from any state. 

Q: But there is no official record of my birth. What can I do?
A: You will need to contact the proper agency (Bureau of Vital Statistics or Health Department) of your birth state. A letter will be issued to this fact, then we can use other items for proof. Call us. We will be glad to assist you.

Q: What if I am a naturalized citizen?
A: The original naturalization certificate must accompany the application for a passport. It will be returned by the passport agency.

Q: Do I have to personally come into the office to apply for a passport?
A: Yes. Unless you are filing for a renewal. (See question above on renewals.)

Q: Do I have to bring my child in with me for his/her passport?
A: Yes. On February 1, 2004, Passport Services will begin requiring the personal appearance of all minors applying for U.S. passports. This new requirement is being implemented to enhance the accurate identification of applicants and aid in the preventing of international child abduction and substitution.

Q: I need to get my passport as quickly as possible. May I go directly to the regional passport agency in Miami?
A: If you are traveling within 14 days, you may make an appointment by phone (1-877-487-2778 or TDD/TTY 1-888-874-7793) or online from the U.S. Department of State’s website:  www.travel.state.gov.  Visit the section “Where to Apply” and look for the link to “Make an Appointment.”  You must have your ticket or proof of purchase from your travel agent.  A check or money order payable to the U.S. Department of State is required.  You may wish to visit the Clerk’s Office first for determination of accurate documentation prior to your trip to the federal passport office.

Q: When is a passport required?
A: A valid passport is required of U.S. citizens departing from the United States for any destination outside of North, South or Central America and for entering the United States from outside the United States.  A passport is not required for travel by U.S. Citizens to any territory or waters, continental or insular, subject to the jurisdiction of the United States (including Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa and the U.S. Virgin Islands.)

Q: What is the difference between a passport and a visa?
A: A visa is permission granted by the government of a country to an alien to enter that country and to remain for a specific period of time. It is the responsibility of the traveler to obtain necessary visas, if any, before proceeding abroad. Visas are obtained from the embassy or consulate of the countries to which the applicant wishes to travel. We can give information as to what countries require visas.

Q: Do I need a passport for travel to Mexico, Canada or the Bahamas?
A. A passport is required for Air and Sea travel on/after December 31, 2006.  A passport is required for Air, Land and Sea travel on/after December 31, 2007.  Until then you must have a birth certificate or other proof of U.S. citizenship. However, it is being recommended that you have a passport for U.S. Customs Department. By Decemeber 31st, 2007, a passport or other accepted document will be required for all Air, Land and Sea border crossings.

Q: What countries require a passport?
A: We have a complete list and will be glad to answer your questions about specific countries.

Q: I am not a U.S. citizen, but I need a passport.  What must I do?
A: You must contact the nearest consulate for your country.

Q: I am leaving, but my passport is not here; or I didn’t know it had expired; or I can’t get to Miami. Is there some kind of waiver?
A: No.

Q: I don’t have a birth certificate, but I have my military papers. Will that suffice?
A: No.

Q: My passport has been lost, stolen or mutilated. What must I do to replace it?
A: You must complete a new application, with new pictures, birth certificate and affidavit of lost or stolen passport. The forms are available in this office or online at the US Dept. of State website. (www.travel.state.gov) 

Q: Who do I report a lost or stolen passport to?
A: The National Passport Information Center (NPIC)  will accept reports of lost or stolen passports.  You can call them toll-free at 1-877-487-2778.  A customer service representative will ask a number of questions, record the answers and guide you through the reporting process.  The completed report will then be forwarded electronically to Passport Service Headquarters.  Spanish speaking representatives are also available to accept reports.

Q: I am a convicted felon. Can I get a passport?
A: That is entirely up to the discretion of the Passport Agency in Miami.

Q: Can I travel to Afghanistan?
A: The Department of State warns US citizens against travel to Afghanistan. The US Government continues to receive terrorists threats that do not distinguish between American government and civilian targets. The US government reserves the right to retaliate against the facilities of those who harbor terrorists threats.

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Helpful Information

The Passport Agency will not issue a passport if the applicant is in arrears of child support payments in excess of $2,500. The applicant will be required to have payment arrangements and the child support agency must contact the U S Department of Health and Human Services prior to the processing of an application. 

Washington, D.C. - The Department of Homeland Security and State formally submitted the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative proposal for public comment. The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative will require all citizens, citizens of the British Overseas Territory of Bermuda, and citizens of and to have a passport or other accepted secure document that establishes the bearer's identity and nationality to enter or re-enter the by January 1, 2008.

The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 mandated that the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State, develop and implement a plan to require U.S. citizens and foreign nationals to present a passport, or other secure document when entering the United States.  In the proposed implementation plan, the Initiative will be rolled out in phases, providing as much advance notice as possible to the affected public to enable them to meet the terms of the new guidelines. The proposed timeline will be as follows: 

December 31, 2006 - Requirement applied to all air and sea travel to or from , , Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Bermuda.

December 31, 2007 - Requirement extended to all land border crossings as well as air and sea travel.

National Passport Information Center : 1-877-487-2778
National Passport Information Center (credit card users) 1-888-362-8668
Toll-free for Passport Services: 1-800-688-9889

 

 

 

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