As we prepare for our big move to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (aka HCMC), of course the first thing on our To Do List is get passports for the kids.
The passport process was incredibly easy. We opted to get the passports on base on Ft. Knox because it wouldn’t be as busy as going to the post office in town. We were right! We were in and out in about an hour, to include waiting. The most difficult part of the process was wrangling the kids into one spot while we waited our turn.
Both parents must be in attendance. If not, then you need to have a whole bunch of notarized documents, a court order, deployment orders, a death certificate or SOMETHING explaining why only one parent is in attendance. You can read about all the guidelines from the US Passport Information Website.
Passport pictures for the kids can be taken at Walgreens, Walmart, CVS, or whatever local drug store/photo print shop you use. You can also get them done at a passport processing station, in our case it was the Ft Knox Post Office.
I would suggest getting them done at the processing station since they are “trained” on how to take passport pictures. If your picture doesn’t meet the standards of the Department of State, they’ll send it back and make you re-do your application. When you’re in a time crunch, this is probably not the most ideal situation.
Newborn passport pictures are HARD. It needs to be a specific measurement, on a white background, and nothing other than the newborn is allowed to be showing, so parent’s hands or arms are not allowed. At the post office, they have a white blanket that they can lay the newborn down and take pictures on. For a newborn passport, they will need a social security number and birth certificate. You can get the birth certificate expedited but the SSN cannot be. The clerk at the post office said the best way to get an expedited SSN is to physically go to a Social Security Office, luckily there’s one the next town over.
For the application paperwork itself, my suggestion is picking up the paper work beforehand and fill it out at home. PICK UP AN EXTRA APPLICATION, JUST IN CASE. Fill it out while you watch TV or as your kids play. When you fill out the forms, USE A BALL POINT PEN. If you use a felt tip pen, it will bleed through. Which is why you’ll need to pick up an extra copy just in case. Heh! If you don’t know the height of your child, the passport processing station will have a tape measure for you to use if needed.
You will need to know your child’s Social Security Number. I’m weird about Social Security Cards, so it’s easier to copy down the number and put their card back into a safe spot instead of carry it around with you. When have the application filled out, get all the necessary documents together (passport application form, passport photos, birth certificate, checkbook) and put it in a manila envelope.
The passport processing station will take the original birth certificate. Don’t worry, they make a copy of it and give you the copy, and you will get the original birth certificates mailed back to you but they will be in an envelope separate from your passports.
[Travel Tip:] If your family is going to be going overseas for vacation or on military orders or for a long period of time, it would be smart to order extra copies of important documents – marriage certificate, birth certificate, etc, and keep the extra copies with a trusted family member. We plan on hand carrying all these documents however, you never know what will happen and someone might need to overnight you those documents!
After the processing was complete, they needed three separate checks for three separate kids because they require three separate passport books. Be prepared to bring your check book. You can pay the passport processing fee and pictures with your credit card.
They say it takes 6-8 weeks for you to receive your passport. The kids got theirs in 3 weeks. You can check the status of your passport online!
Happy Traveling! And feel free to follow along our journey as we move to Vietnam!