2018-03-02 / In the Know

Passport Day is Saturday in Scarborough

Questions and answers
By Nicole Hall Special to the Leader

For the sixth year in a row, Scarborough Community Services will host the annual Passport Day in Scarborough. Held on Saturday, March 3, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Scarborough Town Hall, staff will assist with processing new passports applications and minor passport renewals.

Staff will also be on hand to answer any questions about passports and help people in completing passport renewals.

In honor of this upcoming special event, Community Services staff thought it would be helpful to touch upon a few common questions and misconceptions about passports that they hear on a daily basis:

My child has had a passport before. Can’t we just renew that on our own?

Anyone whose previous passport was valid for five years or less must reapply for a passport at a passport acceptance facility, like the Scarborough Community Services office, or a passport agency or center, like the National Passport Center in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Regardless of age, all applicants must appear in person when applying for a passport. That means if parents are applying for a passport for their newborn, for example, the baby must also be present.

Children age 15 and younger must bring their previous passport plus their certified birth certificate to go along with the application.

All documents that accompany a passport application are mailed back to applicants under separate cover.

For more information on applying for a minor’s passport, please visit https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/apply-renew-passpor....

My passport is about to expire. Do I need to set up an appointment to renew my passport?

If your previous passport was good for 10 years, is not damaged, and is still in your possession, you do not need an appointment to renew it. Renewals are handled on your own.

You simply complete the passport renewal form, called a DS-82, attach a new passport photo, and submit the form, a check made to the U.S. Department of State and the expired or expiring passport to the address indicated on the form.

The U.S. Department gives applicants up to five years after expiration to renew their 10-year passports using the DS-82 form.

For the DS-82 form and related fees, please visit https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/apply-renew-passpor....

I heard that I now need a passport to fly out of Maine to another U.S. destination. Is that true?

The Department of Homeland Security has issued an additional one-year waiver for the state of Maine’s REAL ID Act compliance, which will allow federal agencies to continue to accept driver’s licenses and identification cards from Maine through Oct. 10, 2018.

During this period, Maine driver’s licenses and IDs will be accepted as valid identification for federal purposes, such as entrance to federal facilities and boarding commercial aircraft.

Can I take my own passport photos?

Yes, but we don’t usually recommend it. There is a laundry list of requirements for a passport photo to be acceptable, including exact measurements of the photo itself and the size of your head, the color of the background, the exact position of your face, your facial expression, the type of paper it is printed on, and so much more.

Nine times out of 10 we have to send applicants back to get photos taken because the photos they took at home do not fit the requirements or are just too pixelated. It is recommended that applicants get passport photos taken professionally, that way their application is not delayed.

You may contact Scarborough Community Services at 207-730-4150 to get recommendations for local photographers.

You may also find all of the photo requirements for passports at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/requirements/photos....

I need a passport in a hurry. Does that mean I have to pay a company to handle my passport application?

Possibly but probably not. When searching the internet, you might stumble upon a bunch of websites offering passports in a hurry, some might even appear like an official government website.

There is only one official website for passports – Travel. State.Gov.

All others are most likely courier companies, also known as “passport expeditors.”

These are private companies, some of which are allowed to submit passport applications on behalf of customers.

Thinking of using a courier company? Here are a few things you should know:

These companies do not operate as a part of the U.S. Department of State.

You will not receive your passport any faster than you would if you applied in person at a passport agency.

Courier companies charge additional fees for their services.

You are still required to appear in person at an acceptance facility if applying on Form DS-11, even when using a courier service.

Unless you need a passport in 14 days or less, you can process your passport application at a passport acceptance facility, like Scarborough Community Services. Currently, routine service is taking four to six weeks to get a passport book or card back.

For a little extra money, you can pay to get your passport back in two to three weeks. Even if you do need your passport in less than 14 days, you can make an appointment with a passport agency or center, like the National Passport Center, and have it processed through their office.

They are still going to charge the normal passport fees, plus the expedite fee and possibly an overnight mailing fee, but it could pale in comparison to the fees a courier company might charge.

For details on expediting a passport application, please visit https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/apply-renew-passpor....

If you have any other questions regarding passports, please feel free to call Scarborough Community Services at 207-730-4150.

We hope to see everyone on March 3.

Nicole Hall is administrative coordinator for Scarborough Community Services.

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