How to Get Your U.S. Passport

How to Get Your U.S. Passport
Before you extend your travels outside the United States, you need a passport. A passport will identify you as a US citizen or national, allowing you to travel or temporarily reside in another country. You will need a passport when you leave the US, as well as when you return, and it allows you access to US consular services and assistance.

Instructions

Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Passport application forms Evidence of U.S. citizenship Proof of identification Two passport photos Social Security number Method of payment
  • Passport application forms
  • Evidence of U.S. citizenship
  • Proof of identification
  • Two passport photos
  • Social Security number
  • Method of payment
Step 1
Get the application forms and fill them out, following the directions carefully. You can find the forms on the U.S. Department of State website or at your nearest passport acceptance facility. To find an acceptance facility, go to the Passport Acceptance Facility Search Page. Also, do not sign the forms until directed to do so at the acceptance facility. These forms must be submitted in person.
Step 2
Gather evidence of U.S citizenship. According to the U.S. Department State, acceptable documents include:
- Certified birth certificate, issued by the city, state or county
- Records of birth abroad
- Naturalization certificate
- Certificate of citizenship

Your evidence of citizenship must be the actual documents, not copies; they will be returned to you.
Step 3
Bring proof of your identity with you. Acceptable identification includes:
- Previously issued, undamaged US passport
- Naturalization certificate
- Valid driver's license
- Current government or military ID
Step 4
Get your photo taken. They can do this at the acceptance facility, which will ensure your photo will be acceptable. You will need two identical photos, in color, that are 2 by 2 inches with a front view of your face. Wear normal attire for the photo, including anything you wear daily, such as prescriptive glasses, hearing devices or a wig. Do not wear headgear or a hat that obscures the hairline. This image is to ID you, so make sure you look like you normally do. If you choose to have this picture taken elsewhere, be sure to follow the quality requirements for passport photographs.
Step 5
Keep your Social Security number handy. You will not need your Social Security card, but you will need to know your number when you apply.
Step 6
Prepare to pay the applicable fee. Check the passport fees online to find current pricing, as well as other optional services, such as expedited services and overnight delivery. Follow the directions carefully to ensure no delay in the processing of your application.

Tips & Warnings

 
Routine applications take around 4 to 6 weeks from the time you apply to the time you receive your passport, but expedited services with overnight delivery take about 2 to 3 weeks. During busy travel seasons it could take longer. The U.S. Department of State recommends expediting your application if you need it in less than 10 weeks. If you are 16 or older when the passport is issued, it will be valid for 10 years. If you are 15 or younger, it will be valid for 5 years. If you are submitting a passport application in a state other than the state that issued your identification, you will need an additional ID. Apply for your passport ahead of time. Some countries require your passport be valid for at least 6 months before your trip. Some airlines will not allow you to board if your passport does not meet this requirement.
 
Routine applications take around 4 to 6 weeks from the time you apply to the time you receive your passport, but expedited services with overnight delivery take about 2 to 3 weeks. During busy travel seasons it could take longer. The U.S. Department of State recommends expediting your application if you need it in less than 10 weeks.
 
If you are 16 or older when the passport is issued, it will be valid for 10 years. If you are 15 or younger, it will be valid for 5 years.
 
If you are submitting a passport application in a state other than the state that issued your identification, you will need an additional ID.
 
Apply for your passport ahead of time. Some countries require your passport be valid for at least 6 months before your trip. Some airlines will not allow you to board if your passport does not meet this requirement.

Article Written By Heather Webb Oney

Heather Webb Oney graduated from Morehead State University in 2009 with a bachelor's degree in journalism. While at MSU, she wrote for the "Trail Blazer" and the media relations office. Since 2010, she has been the editor of the "Salyersville Independent."

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