How to Apply for a United States Passport

How to Apply for a United States Passport
If you're planning a trip abroad in the near future, you will need a United States passport. Passports are required for re-entry into the United States after traveling abroad. A passport is used for identification and certifies you as a United States citizen. Applying for a U.S. passport can be a vexing task for any traveler. To apply for your first U.S. passport, there are steps to be followed so you can make sure you allot yourself adequate time to have your application processed.

Instructions

Difficulty: Moderate

Things You’ll Need:
  • Evidence of U.S. citizenship, such as a certified birth certificate Identification, such as a driver's license or military ID Photocopy of the ID document presented Two passport photos Application fee
  • Evidence of U.S. citizenship, such as a certified birth certificate
  • Identification, such as a driver's license or military ID
  • Photocopy of the ID document presented
  • Two passport photos
  • Application fee
Step 1
Apply in person at a designated facility such as a post office or clerk of court's office, or at one of thirteen regional passport agencies. The State Department's website offers a search engine to help you find a designated facility near you.
Step 2
Complete and submit Form DS-11: Application for a U.S. Passport. You may complete the form online at state.travel.gov; however, you must sign the application in person. Applications are also available at designated passport facilities.
Step 3
Present evidence of U.S. citizenship through one of the following: previously issued U.S. passport, naturalization certificate, valid driver's license, current government ID, or current military ID.
Step 4
Submit an 81/2 x 11 photocopy of the identification document presented. The copy must be on plain white paper. Copy the front and back of your ID but make sure the images are only on one side of the paper. If you need additional space, copy the back of your ID on a second page. Images cannot be decreased in size, but may be enlarged if needed.
Step 5
Provide two passport photos with your application. Many post offices and Fed Ex Offices have a passport photo service. Pictures must be in color, identical and 2x2 in size. Photos must be a full-face photo taken in front of a white or off-white background and have been taken within the past six months. Do not wear hats, uniforms or dark glasses in your photo.
Step 6
Pay the current passport fee. The State Department lists the current passport fees and methods of payment on its website at state.travel.gov. Passport agencies take credit cards, checks, money orders and bank drafts. Most other facilities take checks, money orders or cash in the exact amount.

Tips & Warnings

 
Normal processing time for a passport is four to six weeks. If you need your passport quickly, apply for expedited service using Form DS-82. Overnight mail is recommended and an additional fee is required. If you plan on only traveling to Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean or Bermuda by sea or land, consider applying for the U.S. Passport Card. It's wallet size and lower fees may make it a more viable option for you. Application requirements are the same as for a regular passport.
 
Normal processing time for a passport is four to six weeks. If you need your passport quickly, apply for expedited service using Form DS-82. Overnight mail is recommended and an additional fee is required.
 
If you plan on only traveling to Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean or Bermuda by sea or land, consider applying for the U.S. Passport Card. It's wallet size and lower fees may make it a more viable option for you. Application requirements are the same as for a regular passport.

Article Written By Kristi Gray

Based in Little Rock, Arkansas, Kristi Gray has been writing for over fourteen years with extensive experience in legal and business writing. Her articles have appeared in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and trade newsletters. She has won several awards at the annual Arkansas Writers' Conference. Gray holds a Bachelor's Degree in English from the University of Arkansas.

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