How to Get a Passport in the USA

How to Get a Passport in the USA
Whether you are hitting the dusty trail on the Camino de Santiago in Spain, backpacking through the French countryside or camping out in remote parts of Italy, you will need a passport. When applying for a passport in the USA, you must follow specific steps, which include presenting proper documentation, identification and photographs, along with paying applicable fees. Even if you are not planning a trip in the immediate future, the outdoor adventurer will be ready for that spontaneous trek to another country with a valid passport in hand.

Instructions

Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • "Application for a U.S. Passport" (DS-11 form) Passport photo head shot Evidence of citizenship (birth certificate) Identification Photocopies of identification
  • "Application for a U.S. Passport" (DS-11 form)
  • Passport photo head shot
  • Evidence of citizenship (birth certificate)
  • Identification
  • Photocopies of identification
Step 1
Complete the "Application for a U.S. Passport," also known as form DS-11. Forms are available online or in person at acceptance facilities or regional passport agencies. Search the U.S. Department of State's website for the agency or facility nearest you. Do not sign the form.
Step 2
Take your unsigned form to the nearest acceptance facility or passport agency. Provide your social security number, and bring an original copy of your evidence of citizenship. You can utilize a birth certificate, previously issued passport or certificates of citizenship or naturalization. Your evidence of citizenship will be returned to you by mail with your new passport.
Step 3
Show identification, either a driver's license, previously issued passport or other form of government or military identification. Give the agent a photocopy of your identification, along with two identical passport photos (head shots) of yourself taken within the past six months.
Step 4
Pay the applicable passport fee. If you would like expedited service on your passport, you will be required to pay an additional fee.
Step 5
Wait for your new passport to be sent to you in the mail. If you are planning to leave for your trip within 10 weeks from your application time, you should consider paying for expedited service.

Tips & Warnings

 
Passport photos must be in color and be identical. When getting your passport photo taken, wear normal street attire with no headgear or dark glasses.
 
Passport photos must be in color and be identical.
 
When getting your passport photo taken, wear normal street attire with no headgear or dark glasses.
 
Photocopies of documents must be on plain white, 8 1/2-by-11-inch standard paper. Include the front and back of your ID. Do not decrease the size of your original image.

Article Written By Karen Sprinkles

Karen Sprinkles has been a freelance writer since 1988. She's currently the managing editor of a luxury home magazine and has written for regional newspapers and magazines. Sprinkles received the Award of Excellence from the Hawaii Book Publishers Association for "The Hawaii Home Book," which reached No. 1 on the Hawaii bestsellers list. She earned a bachelor's degree in English from the University of California.

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