How to Get a Passport in the United States

How to Get a Passport in the United States
Before planning an African safari, a mountain climbing adventure in the Alps or trip to the Australian outback, obtain a United States passport. Leaving the country for any type of adventure requires the proper identification. Complete the application process several weeks in advance of your trip, following the guidelines published by the U.S. Department of State, to avoid delays or ruined travel plans. Passport processing can take up to 10 weeks during peak travel times such as holidays and the summer.

Instructions

Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • form DS-11 evidence of U.S. citizenship current identification copy of identification 2 passport photographs application fee
  • form DS-11
  • evidence of U.S. citizenship
  • current identification
  • copy of identification
  • 2 passport photographs
  • application fee
Step 1
Visit the U.S. Department of State Web site and print form DS-11. This form is also available at most post offices. Complete this form except for the signature. The agent accepting your application will instruct you when to sign the document. Form DS-11 requires you to supply information such as the location and date of your birth as well as your parents, an emergency contact and travel plans.
Step 2
Submit proof of U.S. citizenship. Bring one of the following forms of acceptable citizenship with your application: previously issued, undamaged U.S. passport, certified birth certificate, consular report of birth abroad or certification of birth, naturalization certificate or certificate of citizenship. These documents are returned with your new passport.
Step 3
Provide current identification and a copy of it. Present one of the following forms of acceptable identification at the time of application: previously issued, undamaged U.S. passport, naturalization certificate, valid driver's license or current government or military identification. Submit a photocopy of the same identification to send with your application. Copy both sides of your identification onto one side of an 8½ by 11-inch white paper. Some acceptance facilities charge for this copy if you do not already have one.
Step 4
Obtain proper passport photographs. Make sure passport photographs meet the guidelines suggested by the U.S. Department of State to ensure processing in a timely manner. Submit two color photographs taken in the last six months that are identical, measuring two by two inches in size. Make sure photographs are clear, correctly exposed, show the entire face, measuring 1 to 1 3/8 inch from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head. Visit national chain pharmacy stores with photo centers for proper photographs in a timely manner.
Step 5
Apply in person at a passport acceptance facility with supporting documents. Call the nearest acceptance facility, usually a post office, to inquire about local hours of operation, acceptable forms of payment and if an appointment is necessary. Payment is expected at the time of application. The fee for an adult passport book is $95, plus an extra $25 execution fee.

Tips & Warnings

 
Expedited service is available for an extra fee.

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.

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.