Passport application fees are rumored to be increasing this year. If your family is planning any travel out of the United States, even if just to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, then consider applying for passports sooner rather than later.
Currently, the application process takes 4-6 weeks. The costs are approximately $100 for adults and $85 for children (under the age of 17). That includes a fee of $75/ adult and $60/ child that is required by the US State Department and then another processing fee of $25/ person. The processing fee may vary by where you go to turn in the application, but there are a limited number of accepted locations. Most people know that you can pick up an application and turn it in at designated post offices, but that is getting increasingly difficult as they are changing their hours and most locations are now requiring appointments. (You must apply in person for your first US passport). Other options for Cincinnatians are the Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Auto Title Division offices or the Downtown Branch of the Public Library (some appointments required). Most locations require the payment in the form of checks (each application requires a separate check), though some will accept credit cards with additional processing fees.
To make the acceptance of your application go smoothly, have the paperwork filled out, except for the signature, before you go. The application can be filled out online and then printed or printed and then filled out (with black ink only). Applications are also available at the post office or other acceptance locations. Besides needing the applicant's personal information, birth dates and birth place information of the applicant's mother and father is also requested. An original copy of your birth certificate and photo ID is required.
Two passport photos, 2"x2", must be submitted with the application. There are many places to have them taken - AAA travel offices, Walgreens, ... If you have the right digital equipment, you can take them yourself, but they must meet very specific requirements. Prices seem to vary from $7.99 to $15. Some acceptance locations can take and print the photos while you wait, like post offices or the Clerk of Courts offices, but not all locations provide the service.
For children's applications to be processed both parents must accompany the child to the acceptance location. For more information on the process, requirements, or to check an application's status, visit the US Department of State's website. Currently, passports are valid for 10 years for adults or 5 years for children under the age of 16.