From the Desk of Stacy M. Butterfield

Mar 09

[ARCHIVED] Travel Season – Passport 101

The original item was published from March 9, 2023 2:17 PM to April 11, 2023 4:23 PM

With the summer travel season right around the corner what better time than now to apply for your passport?

We know finding the needed paperwork can be a chore, so we created this quick guide to simplify the process. The approval process can take up to 11 weeks if not expedited, so keep this in mind as you plan your travel.

Getting your first passport

You must appear in person to apply for your first passport, including children. We offer this service conveniently at our three locations in Lakeland, Bartow and Winter Haven. No appointment is necessary. Passport applications can be downloaded from the U.S. Department of State’s website and in person at all Clerk locations.

To save time at our office, you should gather the required documents before your visit:

  • Your filled-in DS-11 application form (This should not be signed until you are in front of  Depty Clerk)
  • Proof of citizenship.
  • Acceptable form of identification.
  • A photocopy of the front and back of the identification you're bringing on clean, white 8½" x 11" paper.
  • Your application fees, two separate fees and forms of payment are required
  • Passport photos. We offer photo services at all locations for a fee.

List of all approved documents and fees

Need your passport sooner?

You may expedite your passport with us and receive it no later than 7 weeks. However, if you need to travel for an emergency, you can make an appointment with a passport agency.

Apply for a minor

Even the youngest traveler requires a passport to travel abroad. Not only can you apply at our office but your child can too. All minors under the age of 16 and their parents and guardians must fill out the DS-11 form in person, with the signature of both parents or legal guardians. However, documentation of the second parent's absence can be accepted. A list of acceptable documentation to show parental consent can be found on the U.S. Department of State’s website.

Does your 16- to 17-year-old have a current driver's license? As long as they have written consent or a check from their parents to cover the cost of the passport, they can apply for a passport without their parents being present.


Our office isn’t able to assist with passport renewals. This is solely done through the department of state. Visit their site for all details. However, if you find you are not eligible for a renewal we can help with your new application.

Now that you know, you are prepared to apply for or renew your U.S. passport in confidence. Obtaining this important travel document can be done without too much stress if you give yourself enough time and follow the appropriate procedures. Once you get your passport, the world is your oyster.