Tuesday, January 28, 2014

No Fee Passport: Story and Guide

So a large chunk of my day was spent trying to apply for my no fee passport. Never heard of it? Don't worry, apparently few people have. Honestly, I had never heard of it until I found out I needed one a few weeks ago. It is essentially the exact same as a tourist passport but has a stamp on the inside that acts as a visa for military spouses living overseas. The process of getting one can be rather complicated though unless you already live on a military base, which I do not.

What you need:
passport application
birth certificate
photo id
form DD 1056 (filled out by travel office on post)

Simple right? No.

Since I do not live on post I had to go to an Authorized Passport Acceptance Facility (aka:your local library or post office that accept passport applications). You would think since they are "trained" in how to process passport applications that they would be informed about the no fee passport process but that's also not true. The travel office on my husband post had kindly already made me aware that this would probably be the case and told me to have the passport agent call them if they have any questions. Not only did the lady have questions, she had no idea whatsoever where to even begin. When I tried to explain it to her she acted like I was making it up. And instead of calling the number I told her to call she decided to call the tourist passport agency.

Now, the tourist passport agency has nothing to do with the no fee passport. It does not get mailed to them. Therefore, though they might have heard of it, they did not provide the correct information about what was needed. Essentially, the person who was trying to process my passport application only needed to get the DD form 1056 but the person she talked to on the phone told her she needed a letter from my husbands base. Now, that might work, but in all actuality you just need the DD form 1056.

Figuring all this out took many phone calls and a lot of frustration. At one point the passport agent was practically yelling at me about it. It all worked out in the end though, and my guess is she feels awkward about getting so upset with me over it, since obviously I am not making it up just to ruin her day.

I hope this helps someone. I wish I had known a little more about what I was getting into beforehand.

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