Obtaining a United States Passport

Obtaining a United States Passport
A United States passport authenticates your identity, your right to foreign travel, your right to protection while abroad and the your right to re-enter the United States. If you plan on traveling outside of the United States you will need a passport and should look into starting the process as soon as possible. It usually takes one to two months to receive your passport unless you pay extra for expedited service, which takes about two to three weeks.


Difficulty: Easy

Application Process

Things You’ll Need:
  • Complete DS-11 form: Application for US passport Primary evidence of citizenship Photocopy of identification Money 2 passport photos
  • Complete DS-11 form: Application for US passport
  • Primary evidence of citizenship
  • Photocopy of identification
  • Money
  • 2 passport photos
Step 1
Find a photographer to take two professional passport-sized photos. The photos must be identical, in color, 2 by 2 inches, taken in the past six months and of your full face on a white or off-white background. The photo must also be between 1 inch and 1 3/8 inches from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head and taken in normal street attire.
Step 2
Obtain primary evidence of your citizenship to send in with application; it will be returned with passport. Acceptable forms of primary evidence of citizenship include: a previously issued, undamaged U.S. passport; certified birth certificate issued by the city, county or state; consular report of birth abroad or certification of birth; naturalization certificate or certificate of citizenship.
Step 3
Bring the items from Steps 1 and 2 items along with primary proof of identification and a copy of that identification to the nearest acceptance facility or passport agency--most often, it's your local post office. Acceptable forms of primary proof of identification include: previously issued and undamaged U.S. passport; naturalization certificate; valid driver's license or current government or military ID.
Step 4
Submit all the items with required fees and track the status of the passport online at the department of state travel website. Fees depend on age and whether this is your first time getting a passport. They range in 2009 from is $95 to $120.

Tips & Warnings

Plan ahead. Passports take about six weeks to process; faster processing can incur additional costs.

Article Written By Nikki Renae

Nikki Renae is a graduate of the University of Minnesota with a degree in animal sciences and will graduate with her doctor of veterinary medicine degree in 2014. She has participated in multiple research projects to improve the quality of life of companion animals and has been writing online articles related to pet health since 2009.

Keep Me Informed

Weekly newsletters, announcements and offers from Trails.com to your inbox.

Sign me up!

We HATE spam and promise to keep your email addresses safe and secure.