How to Obtain a United States Passport

How to Obtain a United States Passport
Obtaining a valid United States passport is necessary before hiking the mountains or trekking across the desert in a worldly adventure. Leaving the country for any type of excursion or trip requires the proper identification. Following the U.S. Department of State guidelines when applying for a passport prevents delays and ruined travel plans. Apply for a passport several months before your trip, as processing can take up to 10 weeks during peak travel times like the summer and holidays.

Instructions

Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Form DS-11 Evidence of U.S. citizenship Current identification and a copy 2 passport photographs Application fee
  • Form DS-11
  • Evidence of U.S. citizenship
  • Current identification and a copy
  • 2 passport photographs
  • Application fee
Step 1
Print out and complete form DS-11 from the U.S. Department of State website (see Resources). Do not sign the form until an agent accepting your application instructs you to do so. This document asks for information about you and your parents, such as location and date of birth, contact information, emergency contact and travel plans.
Step 2
Provide evidence of U.S. citizenship. All applicants must submit citizenship evidence, which will be returned with your new passport. Choose one of the following common forms of evidence: previously issued, undamaged U.S. passport, certified birth certificate, consular report of birth abroad or certification of birth, naturalization certificate or certificate of citizenship.
Step 3
Present a current form of identification and a copy. At the time of application, a current, primary identification must be presented. Select one of the common forms of identification: previously issued, undamaged U.S. passport, naturalization certificate, valid driver's license, or current government or military identification. Submit a photocopy of the identification you present with your application. Copy both sides of your identification onto one side of an 8½-by-11-inch white paper.
Step 4
Get passport photographs taken to submit with the application. Make sure passport photographs meet the following guidelines: they are identical, color, 2 by 2 inches in size, taken within the last six months, clear and correctly exposed, face size should be 1 to 1 3/8 inches from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head, and the pictures should show your full face. Straying from these guidelines could cause a delay in processing. Visit national chain pharmacy stores with photo centers to have passport photos taken and processed quickly.
Step 5
Apply in person and pay applicable fees. Take your application and supporting documentation to the nearest acceptance facility, usually a post office, and apply for a passport. Call the local facility for their hours of operation and acceptable forms of payment. Check if an appointment is needed to apply for a passport. The fee for an adult passport book is $95 as of September 2009.

Tips & Warnings

 
Expedited service is available for an extra fee. Make copies of your application and supporting documentation, and keep all paperwork in case a delay or mistake arises.
 
Expedited service is available for an extra fee.
 
Make copies of your application and supporting documentation, and keep all paperwork in case a delay or mistake arises.

Resources

Article Written By Erica Green

Erica Green has been a freelance journalist since 2008. She has contributed to the Atlantic Publishing Company, Texas Sports, Confessions of a Homeowner and more. Green is currently pursuing a degree in Spanish, and she tutors English Language Learner students. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Texas and is a certified middle school teacher.

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