PASSPORT AND VISAS
Your passport identifies you as a U.S. citizen. If you do not have a valid U. S. passport, apply for one as soon as possible since processing time can take as long as eight weeks. If your passport was issued when you were 16 years of age or older, it is valid for ten years. It must be valid for at least six months beyond the end date of your stay in another country. If you have a current passport, but you need to renew it, you may do so by mail.
You may apply for your passport at the passport acceptance facility in the county in which you live or attend school. Designated offices are frequently located in post offices, clerks of court, public libraries as well as in state, county, township and municipal government offices.
Make sure you sign your passport and make copies of the biography page. You should leave copies with a trusted relative and keep a copy with you (separately from your passport) in case it is lost or stolen and needs to be replaced. If your passport is lost or stolen, you should notify the Department of State immediately if you are in the USA, and contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate if the loss occurs outside the USA. Stolen passports should also be reported to the local police.
A visa is official permission to enter another country which is granted by that country's government. If you plan to study abroad, check the visa requirements for the countries you plan to visit by contacting the nearest consulate or embassy. Costs and processing times vary by country, so it is a good idea to complete the application as soon as you have confirmed your trip.