Hint: It's not as complicated as you think it is.

I'll be honest - when I realized that no decision was going to be made on Real I.D. until next year and that I needed a "proper" I.D. just to leave Minnesota on an airplane, I got nervous. I was angry. I couldn't understand why my life had to be complicated by an indecisive moment on the part of a third party.

However, I accepted previously mentioned reality and decided to get a passport in hopes of avoiding any TSA complications next year. I fly three or four times a year, and I knew this had to be done.

Here's what I did to avoid the Real I.D. law and the nonsense that surrounds it. This is how I applied for a U.S. passport in Rochester with ease.

  1. Fill out your forms before stopping in. It made my processing time SO MUCH FASTER - and (if you're applying for the first time) it's actually only two pages that you have to fill out.
  2. Photocopy EVERYTHING. For most of us, a copy of a birth certificate and driver's license (front and back) will be accepted. You will need physical original copies of both, however, and your birth certificate will be sent away while your application is processed. Here's what else you'll need.
  3. Get your photo taken onsite. Our Government Center downtown is awesome because they have the ability to take your passport photo onsite while you're applying. Take the photo with them there, and it's done right the first time!
  4. Bring a checkbook. Yep, there are some hefty fees involved - but paying them on behalf of a passport is a good way to keep TSA out of your hair.
  5. Make an appointment. The woman who assisted me with my U.S. passport application was super nice and easy going! She's probably done this process hundreds of times before, so that helps. It helps to make an appointment ahead of time too. Make an appointment here.

I know this process is frustrating - but these tips should make it easier!