How to Get a USA Passport

How to Get a USA Passport
Before you can travel to foreign countries to pursue your favorite outdoor activities, such as mountain climbing and scuba diving, you'll need a U.S. passport. Passports establish your identity at customs checkpoints when you arrive in another country or come back to the United States. Apply for your passport well in advance of your trip. Waiting times for passports increased significantly when the U.S. Congress passed new laws requiring passports for travel to countries such as Mexico, Canada and some Caribbean islands.


Difficulty: Moderate

Things You’ll Need:
  • Proof of United States citizenship Two passport photos Credit or debit card Personal, cashier's, certified or traveler's check Money order
  • Proof of United States citizenship
  • Two passport photos
  • Credit or debit card
  • Personal, cashier's, certified or traveler's check
  • Money order
Step 1
Download and fill out the DS-11 passport application form from the U.S. Department of State website. Do not sign it.
Step 2
Gather the required documents to apply for your passport and make a photocopy of any original documents. You must have one document proving your United States citizenship. Use a previously issued U.S. passport; a naturalization or citizenship certificate; a consular report of birth abroad or certification of birth; or a birth certificate certified and issued by the county, state or city in which you were born. If you cannot get one of the above items, you must submit a combination of public records (such as a hospital birth certificate, census record, family Bible record, baptismal certificate, or early school record) along with a birth affidavit, delayed birth certificate, or a letter of no record.
Step 3
Get two passport photographs made. Many drug stores or department stores with photo departments can do this for you.
Step 4
Take your documents to the nearest passport acceptance facility or regional passport office. Acceptance facilities are located at post offices, libraries, and some state, county and municipal government offices. The acceptance agent will ask you to sign your application in front of him or her.
Step 5
Pay the fees for getting your passport with a credit or debit card, a personal, cashier's, certified or traveler's check, or a money order. All fees are non-refundable.

Article Written By Ellen Kendall

Ellen Kendall has 15 years of writing and editing experience. Her travel and insurance articles have appeared in national magazines. Her book contributions include biographies and multi-cultural and Holocaust lesson plans. She has previously served as a real estate broker and interior designer and taught ESL in Korea and at Duke.

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