Planning a trip and need to get your first valid US passport? Follow these steps to make this process easy and quick.
Visit travel.state.gov, the official US Department of State site, to get your valid US passport.
To get a valid US passport, follow the steps below:
- First, go to travel.state.gov, the official US Department of State website.
- Click How to Apply for a Passport. In the list of expandable topics or steps, expand ‘Fill out your Form’. Then, select ‘First-Timer’ to determine your status.
If one of the following is true, then you are a “first-timer”:
- You are applying for your first U.S. passport
- You are under age 16
- Your previous U.S. passport was issued when you were under age 16
- Your previous U.S. passport was lost, stolen, or damaged
- You have a previous U.S. passport, issued more than 15 years ago
If you are a “first timer”, then you must apply in person using Form DS-11.
- Fill out Form DS-11 online and print a hard copy.
- Gather and photocopy your citizenship documentation. ie. an original birth certificate, Citizenship/Naturalization certificate etc.
- Photocopy 1 primary photo identification. ie. a valid US driver’s license, undamaged US or foreign passport, military id, Citizenship/Naturalization certificate, etc. If you don’t have 1 primary photo id, then you will have to submit 2 secondary ids. Review the list of primary and secondary identification.
- Bring 1 photo that meets the photo requirements.
- Make an appointment at a Passport Acceptance Facility (to apply in person). Thus, you must have an appointment to submit your documents in person. Search for a location nearby and set an appointment. If you need your passport expedited, you can apply at Passport Agency. As a result, additional fees may apply.
- Pay for passport processing fees. Consequently, bring your checkbook with you.
- Finally, submit your documentation and wait for your passport to arrive in the mail.
A noteworthy video from The US Department of State on how to apply in person for a valid US passport.
How long do I have to wait?
For Processing Times, click here.
Do you need a visa?
For more information on visa requirements for international travel, click here.
Renewing your US passport can be a seamless experience. Complete the renewal application online. Then, mail it in to the US Department of State for processing.
You are eligible to renew by mail, if your most recent passport satisfies all of the following:
Criteria as stated on the US Department of State website.
- Is submitted with your application
- Is undamaged (other than normal “wear and tear”)
- Was issued when you were age 16 or older
- It was issued within the last 15 years
- Was issued in your current name (or you can document your name change with an original or certified copy of your marriage certificate, divorce decree, or court order).
If you satisfy ALL criteria, then fill out Form DS-82.
However, if you do NOT satisfy all criteria above, then fill out Form DS-11 and apply in person. Refer to Tab 1 for more details.
Steps to Renew Passport by Mail:
- To begin, go to Renew Passport by Mail.
- Expand ‘How to Apply’ and click the form filler option for DS-82. Then, click submit. The form filler will switch to Form DS-11. Keep filling out Form DS-11. Once filled, you will be directed to the correct form – either DS-11 or DS-82. If you satisfy all the requirements for renewal (above), then your information will appear on Form DS-82. This will make more sense as you go through the form filler.
- Fill out your information and print a copy without signature. Also, save this form as a PDF for future reference.
- Include 1 photo. Take according to photo requirements. Staple it to the top of your application.
- Gather your previous / most current passport. Send it in with your renewal application. Your previous passport will be returned to you by the State Dept.
- If you have had a name change, send the certified / original copy of your name change with your application. ie. Marriage certificate, divorce decree or court ordered name change. Your certified document will be returned to you by the State Dept.
- Determine your passport fees. This varies on whether you are getting a passport book, passport card or both. As well, review the Method of Payment.
- Lastly, mail in your renewal application, previous passport, photo, check or money order and name change document to the correct address. Most importantly, verify the address by expanding ‘Mail Completed Application’ on this page. Also, a trackable delivery method must be included when mailing in your renewal application.
Interested in taking the perfect passport photo? Watch the US Department of State video below.
Once mailed, how long do I have to wait?
Review this link for Processing Times.
Especially relevant, watch the US Department of State video, “How to apply for a child passport”.
Other passport scenarios:
If any of the following scenarios apply, then fill out form DS-5504.
- Changing a name within a year
- Correcting a passport error
- Replacing a Limited Validity passport within one or two years
Information as stated on the US Department of State website.