Personal Musings

100 In a Year Project Series | #3 Update/Renew My Passport (Tips for First Time Applicants + Renewals)

Oh boy, was this some process. But I’m happy to say, it got completed + activated! This was a specific task that I had been prolonging for many reasons.

(FYI, if you have never applied for a passport or need to renew or get anything updated like your photo or something, then this post is for you.)

I prolonged this process for awhile because I had an idea about how long it would take and everything that I needed to ensure completion. Case in point, I’ve had dreadlocks for a couple of years now and they are long, thick and nothing like the photo on previous pictures, so that was a primary reason i’d need to update this process; also my current residence is also completely different as I relocated about 5 years ago, so the address on my bills, my identification, all of that is VERY specific when it comes to obtaining or renewing your passport.


The route that I took was just to reapply for a passport all together = $110. So once you decide on the passport application location, have your stuff READY. In light, I had everything in order once I landed safely to the place:

  • BIRTH CERTIFICATE: this is SPECIFIC. It CAN NOT be a photocopy of your original. It HAS to either be theee original (or) an official copy should be shipped directly to you via your state’s vital health records. So I ordered an official copy on the Mississippi Vitals Records website (in which they so generously shipped to me over night for about $20). So yeah, get that.
  • IDENTIFICATION: Your current license or an identification card (not expired) is sufficient. However in my case (because of my relocation), I had to submit more than just a license. I did not find that out until about 3 weeks AFTER submitting my application. The Dept. of State sent me a letter and told me that I would need to submit AT LEAST 5 additional identification documents because I’m technically still a MS resident living in Maryland. So they gave me a list of acceptable documents and I immediately mailed them back with those requirements. (Thank God I had them on hand.) Only thing is, these documents must have your photo, date and/or SSN on them.
  • social security card
  • health insurance card
  • student identification card (from graduate school at my current location)
  • license
  • Library of Congress card

First, if you’re a student (doesn’t matter… college, graduate school, etc.) that has relocated from their primary residence, then it’s best you get an identification card that corresponds to your current address. In my experience, I still had my Mississippi license that was submitted with the initial application, so I needed more.

  • THE APPLICATION: Pretty simple, just fill it out or whatever.
  • MONEY ORDER: The Department of State ONLY accepts money orders for the passport fee which is a flat rate of $110 (or more) if you get the passport book also, which I didn’t need. Also, the location that you apply may (or may nor) require an additional fee of $25. I applied at a library and they did require the fee, but it was acceptable via credit/debit card.


I then proceeded to, I guess what you would call an exit clearance/interview process with a passport agent to go over everything. Again, this was 3 weeks before the Department of State sent me that letter asking me to submit additional documents. After I resubmitted the required documents, it took an extra 3-4 weeks for my passport to actually arrive. And it did — LAST Friday, June 3, 2016. So my process took about 6-7 weeks, because of the letter. I’m based in the DMV, so do NOT underestimate the turnaround time — although the Dept. Of State is literally located in D.C. If you plan to travel in the next couple of months, go ahead and get your stuff in now.

That’s it! So in all actuality, the process is pretty simple if you’re all together with your residency stuff and have the required (official) documents. And also if you’re not wanted by the Federal government for specifics like court appearances, warrants or unpaid child support. I also learned that they are no longer issuing passports out to citizens that have an outstanding amount of unpaid taxes due. So, get that together as well.

The passport site also gives you access to check your status during the 1-6 turn around time.


and this is the notice that I received after re-submitting the required documents they wanted.


Lesson: Go ahead an get your passport if you do not have one already. They are good for 10 years and can be renewed at the 10th year just like a license. Even if you aren’t planning to travel anytime soon, just apply for one so that you can have on standby for whatever, whenever! (Such as me:)