How To Get A US Passport

Applying to get a US passport can be quite a simple matter provided you have all your documents ready for your passport application at least six weeks before the intended travel date. U.S. citizens who plan to travel outside the United States will require a passport; this includes children of all ages, including infants and newborn babies. Each individual whether adult or child has to have their own individual passport to travel outside the United States.  In the past, US citizens were able to travel to Mexico and Canada without passports.  Now passports are going to be required for travel across the border.

People need to apply for a US passport in person when: applying for a passport for the first time; they are under the age of 16 years; the previous passport was damaged, lost or stolen; the previous passport was issued 15 years ago; there has been a name change since the previous US passport was issued and the name change cannot be legally documented.

What Do You Need To Get A Passport?

When applying for a US passport in person, the individual will need to present proof of American citizenship. The following documents are acceptable as proof of US citizenship:

•    Certified birth certificate issued by the city or state of birth
•    Naturalization certificate
•    Certificate of American citizenship
•    Consular report of birth in a foreign country
•    Previously issued passport, provided it is in an undamaged condition
•    Secondary evidence of U.S. citizenship in an acceptable form (early public records including baptismal certificate, hospital birth certificate, early school record, census record, doctor’s post-natal care record or family bible record).

As of April 1, 2011, the United States Department of State requires the full names of the parents to be listed on the applicant’s certified birth certificate, for it to qualify as primary evidence of U.S. citizenship. If the birth certificate does not have this information, it will not be accepted as proof of American citizenship.

The passport applicant will need to fill out the U.S. passport application form (Form DS-11: Application for a U.S. passport). The passport application form must be signed before the passport agent, so fill it out, but don’t sign the form.

Two identical photographs of passport quality will be required with the application. The passport photos apart from being identical, should be in color, measuring 2x2 inches and taken within six months of the submission of the application. It should be a frontal view showing the full face on a plain white background. Regular clothes not uniforms should be worn when taking the passport pictures and no hats or any obstruction to the face will be permitted. Vending machine photographs are generally not accepted.

When you apply for a passport, proof of identification will be required: in the form of a previously issued passport in good condition, valid driver’s license, naturalization certificate, current government ID or current military ID.

Application in person for US passports can be done at any passport acceptance facility.  Many US Post Offices in larger cities provide passport application services. A processing fee will have to be paid. Once you apply for a passport, the status of your passport application can be checked online at

You can renew passports by mail provided: the current U.S. passport is in an undamaged condition because it has to be submitted with the application; the passport was issued when the applicant was 16 years or older; was issued within the last 15 years and was issued in the applicant’s current name.

Passport fees have risen in recent years but it's still relatively inexpensive when you consider that a US passport is valid for 10 years.

Before you depart on your international travel adventure, make sure that you have the recommended vaccinations and travel immunizations for your destination.