The world is a big, beautiful place, but you can't leave New Orleans and go outside the United States without an official passport. Even travel to Canada and Mexico requires the right paperwork. If you need a passport, New Orleans has a specific process to help you acquire the proper documentation.
Who Needs a Passport
Anyone who wants to travel out of the country needs a passport -- even babies. You must apply in person if:
- You are applying for your first U.S. passport
- You are under 16 years of age
- Your previous U.S. passport was issued when you were under age 16
- Your previous U.S. passport was lost, stolen or damaged
- Your previous U.S. passport was issued more than 15 years ago
- Your name has changed since your U.S. passport was issued and you are legally unable to document your name change
How to Get a Passport
To get a passport, you will first need to get an application, which you can do online. Fill out the form DS-11: Application For A U.S. Passport, which you can download. You can also find the nearest passport agency if you want to get an application in person. You may need an appointment. Generally, submitting an application should be done in person so an agent can witness your signature. (Renewals, added visa pages, name change, and corrections, can be completed by mail.)
Getting a passport in New Orleans generally takes about six weeks after you apply. If you absolutely have to travel within two weeks, or if you have to obtain a foreign visa within four weeks, you're in luck. The New Orleans Passport Agency can help. Read through the online directions thoroughly, as you will need to make an appointment.
If you have a dire emergency and must leave the country as soon as possible, call the National Passport Information Center at 1-877-487-2778.
What You Need to Get a Passport in New Orleans
After you apply, you'll need to do a few more things.
- Smile. You will have to go to a nearby passport photo processor location. Alternatively, you can take your own photo, but you have to follow specific guidelines.
- Show Off Your Documents. You will also need both proof of U.S. citizenship and your identification. For proof of citizenship, you need a previously issued and undamaged passport, a certified birth certificate, a report of birth abroad or certification of birth, a naturalization certificate, or a certificate of citizenship. For proof of identification, you can use that same passport or naturalization certificate, as well as a valid driver's license, current government identification (city, state or federal), or a current military identification (military and dependents).
- Pay Up. Finally, you will need to pay your fees. The basic adult passport fee is $100; less for children, more if you have special needs. Acceptable forms of payment include the following:
- VISA, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover
- Debit/check cards
- Checks (personal, certified, cashiers', travelers')
- Money orders (U.S. Postal, international, currency exchange)
- Bank Drafts
Renewing Your Passport
Already have a passport and need to get it updated? Renewing your passport is easier and can be done by mail if your current U.S. passport meets these standards:
- Is undamaged and can be submitted with your application
- Was issued when you were age 16 or older
- Was issued within the last 15 years
- Was issued in your current name or if you can legally document your name change
If you're getting a passport because you've changed your name, you can probably still do it by mail. To renew your passport by mail, download Form DS-82, Application for a U.S. Passport by Mail. All the instructions you will need are on the form.
Once you have your passport, treat it as a valuable document. Passport fraud is a serious offense, and passport theft is a sad fact. When you travel, leave a copy of your passport with someone back home and put another copy of it in your luggage to help you if it's lost or stolen.