Passports in South Carolina
South Carolina residents who are planning on travelling abroad must ensure that they have a valid U.S. passport before their trip. A passport is a mandatory travel document for all international journeys.
Information about a citizen’s identity such as their name, date of birth, residential address, and photograph are listed in a passport. They can be used to prove a traveler’s citizenship anywhere in the world.
Obtaining a U.S. passport is the first step to visiting other countries around the world. All international travel from the United States requires a valid passport. Travel visas that permit entry into foreign nations are stamped inside of passports.
Additionally, passports allow American citizens to utilize the numerous U.S. embassy and consular services across the world. Once travel is complete, a passport is the key to coming back to the United States.
Where to Get a Passport in South Carolina
When getting a new passport in South Carolina, you will need to apply in person at one of the dozens of passport acceptance facilities in the state. Public libraries, courthouses, post offices and other municipal buildings normally double as passport acceptance facilities. If you need to take a passport photo before you submit your application, some post offices will offer that service.
Most passport acceptance facilities in South Carolina have limited operating hours and many require scheduled appointments, so be sure to call before you visit. Some offices may accept walk-ins, but you may also find that these locations have extended wait times. The faster method is to find a passport office in your city or a neighboring town nearby and call ahead to schedule your appointment.
Note: Only applications for new passports are accepted in person. All applications for a passport renewal or replacement must be submitted by mail.
South Carolina Passport Books vs Cards
Residents of South Carolina have the option to obtain travel documents in the form of a standard passport book or a new passport card. These documents prove your United States Citizenship and they expire 10 years after being issued.
Both versions of the passport contain personal information such as your photograph, name, date of birth and your residential address. Passport books and cards are both Real ID compliant, but there are some other key differences between them.
What is a passport book and when is it used?
A U.S. passport book is a South Carolinian’s ticket to international travel. Passport books are dark blue booklets with official U.S. seals on the cover.
They are mandatory for international air travel between the United States and other nations. These booklets come with empty pages where visas would be stamped, authorizing travel to the issuing nation.
What is a passport card and when is it used?
Travelers who frequently visit neighboring nations such as Mexico, Canada, Bermuda and the Caribbean might prefer to use their pocket-sized passport card.
A passport card is a valid travel document for use during sea or land travel to these nearby countries. Due to the cheaper passport card cost, this may be the better financial option for certain travel situations.
How to Get a Passport in South Carolina
South Carolina utilizes the same passport application process as the rest of the nation. The United States’ only requirement to obtain a passport is U.S. citizenship through birth or naturalization. However, getting a new passport and renewing a current passport have different application methods.
Anyone applying for a passport replacement or renewal must mail their application. South Carolinians who need a new passport must visit a passport acceptance facility to apply. The following instances require citizens to submit an in-person application for a new passport:
- They are applying for their first passport.
- They are replacing a damaged, stolen or lost passport.
- They are younger than 16 years old.
- Their most recent passport was issued before they were 16 years old.
- Their most recent passport was issued over 15 years ago.
When you visit the passport office to submit your application, ensure that you bring the following documents with you:
- A completed passport application
- Proof of your U.S. citizenship
- A valid photo ID or driver’s license
- A passport photo
- Payment processing fees
Additional Requirements for Children’s Passports
In order to promote the safety of children, there are additional requirements when applying for a child’s U.S. passport. For example, applicants must be able to prove their relationship to the child.
Furthermore, at least one parent has to be present when submitting the application to the passport acceptance facility. If either of the parents is unable to attend, they must sign a consent form beforehand and it must be submitted along with the application.
U.S. Passport Renewals in South Carolina
The passport renewal process is standard across the United States, and South Carolina is no exception. In order to renew a U.S. passport, you must mail an application to the National Passport Processing Center. Passport renewals require your most current passport, and it must be:
- Undamaged and legible.
- Issued within the last 15 years.
- Issued when you were older than 16.
Once you have your most current passport, enclose it in an envelope with a completed renewal form, a color passport photo and payment for the renewal fees. Mail the sealed envelope to be processed.
How to Replace a Lost Passport in South Carolina
A lost, stolen or damaged passport must be replaced before your next international trip. You can replace your lost passport whenever it is convenient, however, it is absolutely necessary to report it as soon as possible.
Due to the sensitive personal information on these travel documents, you should file a missing passport report to prevent identity theft. Reports can be filed by:
- Mailing a completed lost passport form.
- Calling the National Passport Information Center directly.
- Filing an online report on the U.S. Department of State’s passport website.
How to Complete a Passport Update in South Carolina
Certain life events and court orders will require you to complete a passport name change. There are unique situations that will decide which process to complete to update your passport. These circumstances include:
- Updates on passports issued less than a year ago.
- You will not have to pay any fees for your update.
- Updates on passports issued over a year ago.
- You are required to apply in person and provide your certified name change documents.
- If you have been using your new name but have no certified name change documents.
- Two people who knew you by both names must sign an affidavit vouching for you.
- You must submit three certified or original public records that show you using your new name for at least five years.
Note: If your passport is still valid and has any data or printing errors, you can submit it for a passport update for free.
South Carolina Expedited Passport Service
Typically, the passport application process takes four to six weeks. Sometimes urgent situations arise and you may need your passport early. If you need to, you can pay an additional fee and order an expedited passport for:
- Standard passport applications
- Your passport will be processed in less than four weeks.
- Urgent travel plans.
- You must provide your itinerary as proof of urgency.
- You must visit your nearest passport agency (Atlanta).
- Your passport will be processed around two weeks.
- Life-or-death emergencies (travel within 72 hours).
- You must call the National Passport Information Center and request the emergency passport service.
- You must provide proof of the emergency.
- Your passport will be processed within one to two days.