If you’re planning a trip to a foreign country (including Mexico or Canada) the first thing you’ll need to do is apply for a passport. Going outside the United States is always a little nerve-wracking, but knowing the first steps to take can help. Here are a few of the most common roadblocks encountered during the application process. Be aware that processing takes four to six weeks, and you may need up to a month to gather all the required paperwork, so give yourself a window of about three months before your trip to ensure you receive your passport in time.

Before getting everything together, you may be wondering what factors can keep you from applying?

You can be denied a passport if any of the following apply:

  • You owe more than $2,500 in delinquent child support payments
  • You have a criminal drug history
  • There are warrants out for your arrest
  • You owe on certain types of federal loans

If any of these factors are in play, the State Department won’t approve your passport application. Be sure you’re eligible to apply before booking your international travel reservations.

Are There Any Other Passport Factors?

If you’re under the age of 16, both of your parents and/or legal guardians must be present when you apply for a passport, to provide proof of identity. This measure is taken to prevent a noncustodial parent from removing a child from the country without the knowledge or consent of the primary guardian.

Also, bear in mind that if you’re travelling to Canada, you won’t be allowed across the border if you have an OUI or DUI conviction on your record within the last five years, and possibly as many as 10 years, depending on the severity of the offence. If you have any questions in this regard, you might want to enlist the aid of an expungement attorney.

Birth Certificates

Even if none of the above restrictions applies to you, be sure you have the proper documentation. If you have only a notarized copy of your birth certificate, for example, it will put your application on hold. Contact the town office of your birthplace to request an official copy if you don’t have one on hand. If you are applying for more than a passport, and need a work visa or other kinds of visa, there are steps for each country you’ll need to follow.

Applying for a passport doesn’t have to be a long and complicated process if you’ve gathered all your information and have followed all the rules and guidelines. You’ll be off to your destination in what seems like no time!