For us, the first step after deciding to go to Korea noncommand sponsored (NCS) was actually getting a tourist passport. As NCS, we do not qualify for the no fee passport you may have heard about in the military world. Only CS families are eligible for the no fee passport to allow them entry into the country, but getting a tourist passport will allow you to travel outside the ROK if you plan to do a little exploring anyways (like us). Service members only need their orders to enter the country, but we went ahead and got my husband a tourist passport as well.
This website has all the forms and information needed in order to get a passport:
Your local post office will have all the forms available as well, but I opted to fill the forms out online (for time’s sake), and brought them all completed to my appointment. Some post offices require appointments, and some allow you to walk in. For the three members of my family, they booked 20 minute time slots each, but we were in an out of there in 30 minutes max. My post office also took photos there, but you can also have your photos done at places like Walgreens, CVS, etc.
Adult Passports –
$110 for the passport book (You will want the book, and not the card. The card will only allow entry to countries that are adjacent to the U.S.)
$25 USPS Passport Fees (because the passport itself isn’t already expensive enough?)
$15 Passport Photos (2 copies, one goes in your passport application and you keep a duplicate)
= $150 total per adult
Child Passports – (anyone under 16 years of age)
$80 passport book + $25 passport fees + $15 passport photos
= $120 total per child
You will also need proof of citizenship and a photo ID – we used birth certificates and military ID. For our toddler, we just showed his birth certificate.
The routine processing time is 6-8 weeks. It took us about 6 weeks to receive ours, but I have heard of some people receiving theirs in less than 4 weeks. If you are in a bind and need it quicker, you can opt to pay a $60 fee for expediting the process to 2-4 weeks.
Now, if you already have a passport, you’re gravy! You could have saved yourself ten minutes and skipped this post entirely (too late >.<)