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Slew of 10-year renewals may slow passport processing


If you've put off getting that passport for your summer vacation, you may regret your procrastination.

Processing this year is particularly brisk because the 10-year passport has hit the 10-year anniversary.

Applying by mail can even save you a $10 execution fee, although officials recommend applying in person: It eliminates mistakes.

If you do qualify to renew by mail (if you have a passport issued within the last 12 years in your name and after your 18th birthday) and would like to do so, make out a $55 check or money order to Passport Services; enclose your current passport, two identical photos (2 inches square) taken in the last six months and a completed passport application form; and mail to National Passport Center, P.O. Box 371971, Pittsburgh, Pa. 15250-7971.

First-time passport applicants, 13 years of age and older, must apply in person. Applications for those under age 13 must be done in person by a natural parent who is named on the birth certificate.

Make sure to take everything you need.

Here's what you must have:

* Applicants born in the United States should submit a previous U.S. passport or certified birth certificate. The birth certificate must have the raised seal from the Department of Vital Statistics -- not a notary seal, not a health certificate, not a hospital certificate.

Applicants born outside the United States should submit a previous U.S. passport or certificate of naturalization, or certificate of citizenship or a report of birth abroad.

* Two identical, recently made photos with a white background taken in normal street attire, 2 inches square and a head size measuring 1 to 1 3/8 inches. No hats or dark glasses. Passport photo services are available on site.

* A valid driver's license with picture or valid military ID. If the driver's license was issued in the past year, additional identification will be required.

* A fee for adults of $55 by check or money order payable to Passport Services. For those under 18, a youth passport is $30 and is valid for five years.

* An execution fee of $10 -- cash only.

* If your name is different from the valid passport or current identification, a certified copy of a legal document changing your name is required. A certified copy of the court order is required for adoptions.

* Your Social Security number.

After applying for your passport, the next process is waiting.

If you need a passport fast, you may want to call in an expediter, which will charge for the service.

If you need to leave within 72 hours to one week, present an actual airline ticket showing which country you are going to and your departure date.

Or you can present a letter from your company if it includes your name, date of departure, destination, purpose of trip, airline, how long you will be abroad. The letter must be on company letterhead, with the signature of a company official.

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