How To Apply for a Passport: Requirements and Application

Prepare Your Travel Documents for Your Next International Journey

Passport and US currency

If you're planning to travel abroad, everyone in your party must have his or her own passport, including infants. If this is your first time applying, you will need to appear in person at your local passport acceptance facility. You will also need to appear in person if: your previous US passport was lost or damaged; it expired and was issued more than 15 years ago; it expired and was issued before you turned 16; you changed your name and you do not have a legal document demonstrating this change. Here are some tips for preparing the items needed for your travel documents:

  1. Gather 2 passport photos, proof of US citizenship and government issued identification. In order to be issued a new US passport, you must have the appropriate passport requirements. Provide 2 current photographs of yourself, proof of citizenship (such as a birth certificate) and proof of identity.
    • 2 Photos: Your passport photos must be 2in x 2in in size, identical, taken in color, taken recently (within the past 6 months) and must accurately depict your current appearance. This means that you if you commonly wear glasses, a wig or other articles that may affect your appearance, you should wear them in your photo. Do not wear a hat, dark glasses, a uniform, or anything else that may obstruct your appearance. Your photo must be taken from the front, clearly show your entire face, be taken against a white or off-white background, and be between 1 and 1 3/8 inches from the bottom of your chin to the top of your head. You may take digitized photos, but they must have a "continuous" image that does not appear pixilated to the naked eye.

      Note: Photos taken in vending machines are generally not acceptable.

    • Proof of citizenship: You can prove your US Citizenship by providing a previous US passport in good condition (torn, mutilated or incomplete passports will not be accepted); a certified birth certificate issued by the city, county or state that you were born in; a Consular Report of Birth Abroad; or a Certification of Birth, a Naturalization Certificate or a Certificate of Citizenship.
    • Proof of Identification: You can prove your identification with an old, intact US passport; a Naturalization Certificate; a current, valid driver's license, government ID or military ID.
  2. Fill out the passport application. Here's how to apply for a passport. You can download the passport application form here. Make sure that your printer will print legibly on standard 8.5 x 11in paper. If you do not wish to download the passport application form you can obtain one from your local US passport agency or acceptance facility.

    Note: Do NOT sign the passport application until the passport agency or passport acceptance facility instructs you to do so.

    Filling out your US passport application is easy. You'll just need to provide your personal info (including height, hair color, eye color, etc.), your permanent address, the address you would like your passport mailed to, an emergency contact, your mother's, father's and spouse's personal information (including name, place of birth and citizenship), any other names you have used, and some miscellaneous information about previous US passports and potential travel plans.

  3. Go to your local passport agency or acceptance facility with these travel documents. Passport acceptance facilities are in many post offices, libraries and other municipal government offices. Make sure that your local facility doubles as a US passport agency before you go-not every library accepts US passport applications. Also, check to see if you need an appointment. Many US passport acceptance facilities require you to make an appointment before you arrive. Find a US passport agency by typing in your zip code.
  4. Pay the applicable fee. There are two fees associated with applying for a new passport: the application fee and the execution fee. If you are over 16 these fees come to $97 ($67 for the application and $30 for the execution fee). If you are under 16 the total is $82 ($52 for the application and $30 for the execution fee).

    The application fees go to the US Department of State and the execution fees go to the passport acceptance facility that is helping you with your transaction. If you happen to be at one of 14 passport agencies across the country, these fees will be combined. Otherwise you may need to pay the fees separately. You can pay with a personal check, money order, bank draft, cash and sometimes any major credit card. You should check with the passport acceptance facility before you arrive since each facility has its own payment guidelines.

  5. Provide your SSN. You don't need you social security card, but you will need to provide the agency with your social security number. If you do not know your SSN you should contact your nearest IRS office since not providing your SSN could result in a $500 penalty.
  6. Wait for you passport to arrive in the mail. The length of time it will take for your new US passport to arrive can vary, but it should not take longer than 8 weeks. If you're traveling within the next 8 weeks and you need yours in a hurry, you can expedite your passport. You can use these tips to check your passport status.

 

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