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Passports and Visas


A passport is a document that is issued to you by the United States government. It identifies you as a citizen of the United States. You must be a U.S. citizen or U.S. national to be eligible to receive a United States passport. If you plan to travel to a foreign country you will probably need a passport. Your passport also enables you to re-enter the U.S. when you return from your trip.

You must apply to the State Department for a passport.   An application for a passport is available at some, but not all post offices.  This information is available on the United States Post Office website. You must submit two photographs of yourself with your application.  Details on the types of photographs needed are available on the state department and post office websites.

When you have completed the application, return it to the passport office.  At that time, you will be required to take an oath which states that you have not sworn allegiance to any country other than the United States and that you have not committed an act of treason against the United States. Once you have taken this oath and signed the application, your application will be processed.

If you are taking any children on your trip, you must obtain passports for them. You must obtain a separate passport for each child, no matter their age. There is no such thing as a joint passport.



A visa is a document that is issued to you by the government of a foreign country where you are planning to visit or stay. A visa is valid for only a limited period of time. Each foreign country has its own rules about the duration and availability of visas. Additional information about visas is available on the Department of State's travel website. A travel agent can also assist you.

Your visa must be valid when you attempt to leave the foreign country that you are visiting. If your visa expires while you are in the foreign country, it will be very difficult for you to leave that country. This is especially true in some former Communist and some Third World countries. Therefore it is important that the visa cover the period of time that you expect to be in the foreign country. Visa applications are available online, from travel agents or from the Embassy or Consulate of the country you wish to visit.   8/11


If you need to consult with an attorney regarding issues with visas or international travel, please contact the Erie County Bar Association’s Lawyer Referral Service.