Getting your Passport
Destinations Dental recommends that you start the process of getting your passport early as this will save you money and allow time for any hiccups. Visit travel.state.gov for the most current information.
What is a passport? A passport is a legal document which identifies you and verifies your citizenship allowing you to re-enter your home country after traveling abroad. In the US, it may be a card or a book. Travelers to Costa Rica must have the passport book as the cards are acceptable only for land and sea crossings between the US, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda. A passport is valid for 10 years for adults and for 5 years for minors less than 16 years old. The passport booklet has 17 pages available for visas and entry and exit stamps. Some countries require that your passport expiration date have a minimum of 6 months.
What is a Visa and Do I need one to travel to Costa Rica? A visa is a document endorsing your passport which gives you permission to enter and leave specified countries. It also limits the length of your visit based on the reason you are travelling. Costa Rica does not require a visa from US citizens if your stay is less than 90 days. However, you must have a return ticket home or proof that you are traveling onward.
You May Need to Apply for your Passport in Person You will need to apply in person for your passport for the following situations: you are applying for your first US passport, your passport was lost, stolen or damaged, your previous passport was issued more than 15 years ago, you are less than 16 years old, or you were less than 16 years old when you applied for your last passport. If these situations do not apply to you, you may renew by mail.
Required Documentation and Identification
To receive a passport, you will need to have either a certified birth certificate, Consular Report of Birth Abroad, Naturalization Certificate or Certificate of Citizenship. You must also have acceptable identification which may be a valid driver’s license, current military or government ID or naturalization certificate.
You will need one copy of a color photo for your passport which has very specific requirements. While you can do this at a number of locations, make sure that the photographer is aware of the requirements as the photo can be rejected and your application process extended if it is not within specifications. You should wear normal clothing (no uniforms) and do not wear glasses or a head covering. If you need to wear glasses or head covering for medical or religious reasons, you will need to provide signed documentation. For more details, visit the following website:
Form, Cost and Time to Process
Complete form DS-11: Application for a U.S. Passport. You may complete the form online and print it, or print a blank form. Fill out only the top section of page one and do not sign the form until you are asked to do so by the Acceptance Agent at the Acceptance Facility or Passport Agency. The form, together with the instructions, is available for download at the U.S. Department of State's website.
The cost of a passport for 16 y/o and older for first time or renewal is $110 for the book or $30 for the card. If you need a passport quickly, additional fees include an expedition fee of $60 and an overnight delivery fee of $15.45.
Routine 4-6 weeks Expedited 2-3 weeks Expedited through agency 8 business days
Where to Apply
To find the nearest facility in your area which can process your passport application, visit https://iafdb.travel.state.gov/. Some facilities will offer to take your passport photo [for an extra charge] which may save you time and money compared to having it done at your local drugstore. Be aware that applying for a passport is a process and you may be there for an extended period. Also, most facilities require an appointment. You will need to appear in person, bringing all the required documentation, your ID, the photo [if you aren’t having it done there], the form and fee. Some facilities may not accept credit cards or checks, requiring a specific form of payment such as a money order or cashier’s check. Ask for details when you arrange your appointment.
You Can Be Refused a Passport
Specific situations can keep you from getting a passport. Reasons for denial may include felony drug charges, being in arrears for child support greater than $2500, unpaid federal loans, or if the US government considers you a threat to national security. Also, minors less than 16 years old who do not get the consent of both parents or legal guardian may be denied a passport.