Saturday (Sept. 17) is National Passport Day. That means you can apply for passports for you and the kids on a Saturday at a regional passport office without an appointment.
Passports are increasingly important in our post-9/11 world, and this is a rare opportunity to apply on a weekend. The Chicago passport office is on the 18th floor of the Kluczynski Federal Building at 230 S. Dearborn St.
Standard processing takes 4-6 weeks and costs $135 for a new passport book. If that's too long for you to wait, pay an additional $60 for expedited processing, which will get the passports to you in three weeks or less.
Passports for adults are valid for 10 years. Passports for kids ages 15 and younger are valid for five years. Some countries require that your passport be valid for at least six month past your travel date, so if you're within nine months of your passport expiring, now's the time to renew.
And, if you're getting a passport for a child 15 or younger, remember the law requires the consent of both parents or legal guardians. Read additional information on the Two-Parent Consent Requirement.
And one more note on passports for kids:
If you're worried about someone else getting a passport for your child, you can sign up for the Children's Passport Issuance Alert Program (CPIAP) you will be notified if someone has applies for a passport for your kids.
Finally, why do you need a passport? Because you never know when you might win those free airline tickets to Europe. You wouldn't want to turn down the prize because you don't have a passport, would you?
Cindy Richards is the mom of two who gets her muse from traveling the world, usually with kids in tow. She also writes for TravelingMom.com, where she also serves as editor.
See more of Cindy's stories here.