A passport is an official government document proving your citizenship. Everyone needs a valid passport from their country of citizenship in order to travel internationally, and thus all US citizens need a valid US passport to travel outside the US.

If you already have a passport, verify that it will be valid for at least six months beyond your anticipated return to the US. In addition, make sure that the legal name on your passport is the legal name you currently use (i.e., your married name rather than your maiden name).

If you are a US citizen and do not already have a US passport, begin the application process immediately. The average processing time for a first-time passport application is approximately six weeks. First-time applicants need to apply in person at a county clerk's office or most post offices. Review the Department of State Website for information about applying for a passport.

To apply for a US passport you need:

  • Completed Passport application Form (Form DS-11)
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship (e.g., an expired U.S. passport or certified birth certificate)
  • Present proof of identity (e.g., valid driver's license or military I.D.)
  • Two passport photos (both identical, taken within the last six months, and measuring 2 x 2 inches)
  • Your Social Security Number
  • The application fee

If you need your passport quickly, you can pay an additional fee for expedited service.

Passport Acceptance Facilities in Corvallis:

Passport photos can be purchased at

  • OSU XPress Stop (MU 109)
  • Fedex Kinkos (541-757-8127, 1175 NW 9th St)
  • Fred Meyer (754-5550, 777 NW Kings Blvd.)

You may need additional passport photos for reasons other then applying for a passport. Check requirements for your student visa, international student identity card and transportation pass to see if you need additional photos. You can save time and often money by getting your passport photos reprinted at Fred Meyer instead of paying for additional passport photos.

Upon receiving your passport, sign it and make several copies of the identification and photo pages (first two pages). The passport will not be valid until it is signed. While traveling, keep a copy of the identification and picture pages of your passport separate from the passport itself. Also, leave a copy with a family member or friend in the US.


In order to enter many countries, or to stay longer than 90 days in most countries, you need a student visa. A visa is an official authorization from the host country appended to a passport, permitting entry into and travel within a particular country for a stated period of time. The government of the foreign country to be visited issues the visa. The actual visa is usually a stamp in your passport.

The application process is country-specific and may take weeks or months, so begin ahead of time. Check with your study abroad adviser if the country you are visiting requires a visa. The Department of State Website lists foreign entry requirements for all countries.

You will need your passport to apply for your visa, so it is so important to apply for your passport early. The visa process may take several weeks as well. You may not leave the U.S. without a visa; it must be applied for at, and issued in the by, the consulate serving your area. Do not apply at the last minute.

If you are not a U.S. citizen or if you will not be traveling on a U.S. passport, allow extra time to obtain the necessary travel documents.

If you are a non-U.S. citizen participating in a study abroad program, check with the host country embassy to obtain specific entry requirements. It is imperative that you know and understand completely the U.S. immigration rules about study abroad so that you do not have a problem trying to re-enter the U.S. Be sure to check with an international student adviser about U.S. re-entry requirements when your program has finished.

Optional Documents

International Student Identity Card

The International Student Identity Card (ISIC) is available through STA Travel or you can apply in person at Teel's Travel. You may use the ISIC for student discounts at cultural events and museums, reduced airfare and train ticket prices, and other student price reductions around the world. The ISIC provides basic sickness and accident travel insurance for trips outside the U.S. as well. The ISIC costs $22 and is valid for one calendar year (January through December) regardless of the date it is purchased. Your study abroad program may provide you with an ISIC card, so be sure to check with your study abroad adviser before purchasing a card.

International Youth Hostel Card

Membership entitles the bearer to a variety of budget accommodations worldwide. The card is usually required to stay in a youth hostel and must be purchased in a country in which the holder is a resident. Benefits include discounts to student restaurants worldwide as well as access to reservations at over 4,000 international hostels. International Youth Hostel Cards are good for one year from the date of issue and cost $28 as of March 2006.