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United States Passport Office Locations

Anybody who needs to apply for a new passport would need to go to available passport offices in order to apply for one. Individuals who need to request for a replacement passport which has been damaged, stolen, or lost would also need to go to a passport acceptance office location in order to obtain their replacement passport.

If you are one of those people who need to apply for a new passport or a replacement passport, you would be relieved to know that there are several ways of obtaining your passport. The good news is that the Department of State provides several methods that you can use to find out the nearest passport office.

Passport locations are government offices that accept passport applications. These offices are also responsible for processing passport applications. While the process of obtaining a passport may be slightly different, depending on the country where the applicant resides in, the rules and regulations applied are generally the same.

In applying for a passport at a passport office, whether a new one or a replacement, the passport office will require and accept the application, identification documents, as well as the payment for application. The information and the documents will then be verified at a later date. After about six weeks of processing time, the passport will then be mailed to the address of the applicant.

Passport Locations: Types of Passport Offices

The main purpose of passport offices is to accept passport applications, the documents required in applying for passports, and the payment for the application. The procedures that passport offices follow may differ depending on the country, but may also be different between offices located in the same country.

In the United States, passport offices are divided into two types. The two types of passport offices in the United States are the regional passport offices and the passport acceptance offices. Both types of offices accept applications, documentations, and payments, but they also differ in several ways.

Passport Location: Regional Passport Office Locations
Regional passport offices are large passport centers that are located within major metropolitan areas scattered throughout the United States. These passport locations are specifically designed to provide all services concerning passport applications.
These passport services include the actual processing of the passport and all the documentations required in applying for a passport. Application through a regional passport office is recommended for individuals who need to obtain a passport within 14 days or applicants who have irregularities on their documentation. The staff in regional passport offices is trained and they also have the resources needed to deal with complicated or special situations.

Passport Location: Passport Acceptance Offices
The second type of passport location is the passport acceptance office. Passport acceptance offices are more widely available than the regional passport locations throughout the United States. Passport acceptance centers work together with other government facilities such as post offices, courts, and libraries to process the passport application.

In these shared facilities, the procedure that is followed starts with an applicant submitting all of the required paperwork and documentation to an office employee who is highly trained in receiving and processing a passport application. Aside from accepting documents and paperwork, passport acceptance offices also check the submitted documents from a list of all the required paperwork and will also issue a receipt for the payment made, followed by processing.

Documents Required when Applying for your Passport

If you will be applying for your first passport, you should apply and submit all the documentation required to any of the passport offices in person. For minors who are under the age of 14, both the mother and the father should also appear in person to accompany their child and should also provide both of their consent.

Another thing to remember is that if your child applying for the passport is under the age of 14, you and your spouse will need to present yourself during the application to signify that you are fully authorizing the passport application procedure that your child will need to undergo.

The required documents in applying for a passport include the DS-11 Application Form, proof of US citizenship (may be through US birth certificate or through a Naturalization Certificate), and proof of identity (passport, certificate of citizenship, valid driver’s license, Naturalization Certificate). You will also be required to submit two passport photos.

Your social security number would also be required, so make sure that you have this ready before you go to any of the passport offices. The application fee will depend on your age. For applicants who are more than 15 years of age, the passport application fee totals to $97. For 15 years and below, the total passport application fee is $82.

Photograph Requirements when Applying for a Passport

In submitting your passport photos to any of the passport offices, make sure that you follow the photograph requirements.

The passport photos must have a size of 2x2 inches, should be identical, should have been taken within the last 6 months, should include the full length of your face, may either be colored or black and white, and should have a plain white background or an off-white background. The photos should also present you wearing normal street clothing. Your face in the photograph should also be between an inch to 1 3/8 inches starting from the top of your head to your chin. Photographs that show you wearing head accessories such as hats are not allowed.

Fake, Stolen and Black Market Passports

When screening airport passports, security agents perform a number of activities at the same time. While scanning over the ID on the documentation, they also monitor the crowd for anything out of the ordinary, in addition to ensuring that the line of passengers continues moving smoothly. Agents see a wide range of passengers in respect to age, gender and appearance. Many may not appear exactly as the photo on the passport.

While the possibility exists, most do not expect to encounter someone attempting to board a plane or enter a country using a fake ID. However, in recent years, that possibility continues growing despite increased security measures. In 2013, more than three billion people traveled somewhere by plane. Interpol estimates that approximately one third of these passengers did not have a passport scanned through the Interpol Stolen and Lost Travel Documents database for verification of identification.

The Interpol SLTD

Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, Interpol established a database in attempts at minimizing the chance that travelers might board planes or enter countries using false passports. Unfortunately, statistics indicate that Great Britain, the United Arab Emirates and the United States are the only countries that regularly verify documentation using the resource. This fact was recently brought to light after it was discovered that two passengers on the missing Malaysian flight gained entrance using stolen identification. Whether these passengers had foul play in mind may never be known.

Facial Recognition Failure

Numerous studies found that people are under the misguided belief that they are experts in the ability to recognize faces. However, extensive research proves otherwise. In 2011, a group of scientists presented Dutch and United Kingdom volunteers with 40 photographs of individuals. In truth, all 40 pictures only depicted two individuals. The participants in the study were asked to look at the photos, choose pictures representing the same person and create a pile for each individual. Amazingly, on average, the volunteers created more than seven different piles.

Another experiment involved providing shoppers with credit cards bearing photographs. When shoppers paid for purchases using the cards, they were not made award of whether the cards bore their likeness or that of someone else. Though the store employees were advised in advance of the impending study, nearly half of the cashiers accepted the fraudulent cards in payment. In lieu of this misconception, the ease of using a fraudulent passport becomes frightening.

Acquiring Stolen Passports

In 2007, reporters from Dateline NBC demonstrated the steps involved in getting a fake passport. In Lima, Peru, for example, stolen passports are so prevalent that brokers sell them on the street only blocks from government offices. Using hidden cameras, reporters documented on film as brokers produced bags holding numerous passports from virtually every country on earth. The cost for acquiring a stolen document ranged anywhere from a few dollars to $100.

Falsified Passports

Law enforcement authorities around the world have another growing concern, that of falsified passports. These documents are genuine passports created with false identities. As the documents are completely fabricated, checking them against existing databases remains fruitless. Again, while in Lima, NBC reporters located a contact in an attempt at recording the process of acquiring false documentation. The men found an individual who explained that for a fee, he acquires the manufactured passport through criminal contacts employed within local government agencies. NBC acquired one of the documents and successfully crossed the border into Chile without difficulty. Obtaining a created identity may cost close to $2,000. However, for the unscrupulous but often well-connected terrorist, the expense if more than likely a mere inconvenience.

Peru is but one of many countries where black markets exist, along with the possibility of acquiring stolen or falsified identification and passports. Interpol remains concerned that an estimated four out of every 10 travelers have the opportunity to board planes or enter countries illegally. For whatever reason, agencies continue avoiding using available and valuable resources that include the Interpol SLTD. This lackadaisical attitude toward terrorism prevention should alarm everyone who travels. While countries made great strides in preventing potential attacks, the possibility continues because of simple laziness.

Electronic Passports

What is an Electronic Passport?

Travel is something that is regulated by the governments of all nations, and it’s easy to see why that is. No country wants to let criminals and other questionable individuals cross into their borders. The only way for somebody to be admitted is to show proper identification with a passport. Passports are official documents that provide the name, nationality, date of birth, and other personal details of the owner, and as of August 2007, all issued passports are of the electronic variety.
Electronic Passports: The New Standard

As a measure for increased international security, Congress has required all nations involved in the Visa Waiver Program to give out passports with microchips in them. Being identical to the traditional paper passports that we all know and love, the Electronic Passport just includes a small microchip in the outer covering that contains identifying information. The integrated circuit contains the following data: everything shown on the passport’s “data” page, a digital image of the passport photo used as a biometric identifier, the unique identification number of the microchip, and a digital signature that prevents unauthorized individuals to modify the content on the microchip.
Greater Security with Biometrics

As mentioned above, current-issue Electronic Passports store a biometric identifier in the embedded chip. Biometric identifiers are measurable attributes of a person that can be used to verify the person’s identity when required. These human characteristics may be physical or behavioral. The most common biometric identifiers include: fingerprints, facial features scanned using a face recognition technology, and eye features detected using iris scans. US Electronic Passports usually use the individual’s digital photograph as the biometric identifier, and all countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program must also issue Electronic Passports that contain digital images of the owners.

Protecting the Integrated Circuit from Unauthorized Access

Skimming is when an unauthorized party scans the chip to obtain the information contained inside the passport’s chip. Since a metallic layer is added inside all e-passport covers, they cannot be scanned when closed. This means that the passport is only vulnerable when open. Basic Access Control prevents both skimming and eavesdropping. The first time that the chip is scanned using an authorized scanner, cryptographic keys are stored in the chip so that any unauthorized scanners cannot gain access to its contents.

Even when unauthorized scanners cannot access the chip, they are still provided with the unique identifier for the chip. As a result, the passport owner can be tracked. To prevent tracking, a random number generator will assign a new unique identifier to the chip after each time it is accessed.

Cloning refers to swapping out an original chip for another chip containing the personal information of another individual. Scanning the replaced chip with an authorized scanner will easily show the discrepancy between the info on it and the info on the data page. If they don’t match, the individual presenting the passport will be denied.

Electronic Passports Make Traveling Easier

With the use of Electronic Passports, traveling will become much more hassle-free for all. Border security checks will take far less time when border police are already equipped with computers that have everyone’s information on file. Verifying somebody’s identity should only takes seconds with face recognition software after the e-passport has been handed over to a guard and scanned, but it’s not just time that is saved with this biometric technology. E-passports make it nearly impossible to mistake the identity of an individual, and this will ensure that only the people who have been proven that they are who they say they are will be allowed to cross into another country. Con-artists and other criminals who use elaborately-made false passports will have an extremely difficult time sliding past inspection. With e-passports, inspections will become so much more efficient as there will be no more need for shuffling through stacks of paper documents or visually comparing passport owners with their photos for verification.