01.13: Passports and visas

If you do not have a passport, begin the application process immediately. If you currently have a passport, check the expiration date. Some countries require your passport to be valid six months after your return to the U.S. If your passport will expire within six months after your anticipated return, you must renew your passport before you begin your assignment. Depending on when you are planning to begin your assignment, you may need to choose “expedited service.” If the country you’re visiting requires a visa, keep in mind that you may need to have your passport well in advance of your departure date in order to apply for the visa. When you have your passport, please scan and email a copy of your the information page to carak@emm.org

Applying for a passport
You must apply in person for your passport if applying for the first time. This is not necessary if you are renewing your passport. If you live in Lancaster County, you can apply at the Lancaster Post Office (1400 Harrisburg Pike) or the Prothonotary Office in the County Courthouse (50 North Duke St., Lancaster). When you apply for your passport, you will need to take the following things with you:
  1. Passport application form – Passport applications can be downloaded online at www.travel.state.gov or obtained at designated passport processing locations. Do not sign the application form until the Passport Acceptance Agent instructs you to do so. 

  2. Proof of citizenship – You may prove U.S. Citizenship with any one of the following: a previous U.S. passport, naturalization certificate, certificate of citizenship, or certified birth certificate. You will also need your Social Security card. A certified birth certificate has a registrar’s raised or embossed seal, signature, and the date the certificate was filed. For a certified birth certificate, contact the Department of Vital Statistics in the state you were born, listed in the government section of the telephone directory. 

  3. Proof of identity – You can use your driver’s license as proof of identity. If you only have a learner’s permit, one of your parents needs to accompany you for this requirement. (Note: Your Social Security Card does NOT prove your identity.)

  4. Photos – Two photographs with the required specifications are needed for the application. They must be identical photos, 2x2 inches in size, and taken within the past six months. You can get passport photos taken at numerous places listed in the yellow pages. 

  5. Passport fee – Be prepared to pay the fee when you apply. All locations will accept checks, most will accept cash, and some will accept credit cards. Find more information at www.travel.state.gov, the website for the Bureau of Consular Affairs. You will receive your passport through the mail, normally after 25–30 business days.
Many countries require entry visas, though requirements vary according to country and length of stay. For your assignment, EMM will provide you with the information you need to apply for a visa if a visa is needed.