In a few weeks, my husband and I are taking my son and my grandmother to Niagara Falls, Ontario, to celebrate their birthdays. He will be 1, and she will be 83.
Planning the trip has been a ton of fun, but I had a moment of panic when I remembered that international travel requires a passport. Did Gryphon need his own? Was mine still valid?
A quick call to the Brighton branch of the answered my initial questions. Children of any age need a passport to leave the country, and my passport was no longer valid because my last name had changed since it was issued.
I also learned about the passport card, which is less expensive but permits only ground travel to other countries. Because we don't plan to fly out of the country anytime soon, we decided to get Gryphon a passport card and to update my passport book to a passport card.
To apply for a passport card for Gryphon, both my husband and I had to accompany him to the post office. In addition to Gryphon's birth certificate, we had to provide valid photo identification for ourselves. The two-page application was relatively simple, and the fees, including the $15 photo fee, totaled $55.
We could have saved a few bucks by having the photo taken elsewhere, but we decided that spending a few extra dollars to have everything done in one place and at one time is worth it. His passport should arrive in four to six weeks.
I opted for a passport card instead of a new passport book mostly because doing so saved me money. Passport books cost $135, and passport cards cost $55, not including the photo fee. To complete the application, I had to mail in a new photograph, a copy of our marriage certificate, my old passport, the $55 fee and, of course, the completed application form.
If I had applied for a renewal within a year of my name change, my passport would have been updated for free.
All the fees were totally worth the fun it'll be to see my son and grandmother take in Niagara Falls for the first time.
The is located at 100 Charles H. Orndorf Dr., Brighton, MI 48116. Passport services are available on a walk-in basis from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Friday.