U.S. Passport Information

Updated July 10, 2020 | Infoplease Staff

With a few exceptions, a passport is required for all U.S. citizens to depart and enter the United States and to enter most foreign countries. Persons who travel to a country where a U.S. passport is not required should be in possession of documentary evidence of their U.S. citizenship and identity to facilitate reentry into the United States. Travelers should check passport and visa requirements with consular officials of the countries to be visited well in advance of their departure date.

Application for a passport may be made at a passport agency, many federal and state courts, probate courts, some county and municipal offices, and some post offices. The fourteen major cities with U.S. passport agencies are Boston, Chicago, Denver, Honolulu, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Norwalk, Conn., Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, DC.

All persons are required to obtain individual passports in their own names. Neither spouses nor children may be included in each other's passports. All applicants must appear in person before the clerk or agent executing the application if it is their first time applying. Applications for children under the age of 14 must have consent of both parents of proper documentation granting custody to the applying parent.

First-time passport applicants must apply in person. Applicants must present the following items at a passport facility:

  • Completed Form DSP-11, Application for Passport (available at passport agencies, many travel agencies, or on the Web). This form may be completed in advance; however, it must be signed by you in person before a passport agent.
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship. You may use one of the following: previous U.S. passport; certified birth certificate issued by the city, county, or state; Consular Report of Birth Abroad; Naturalization Certificate; or Certificate of Citizenship.
  • Proof of identity. Acceptable proof includes: previous U.S. passport; Naturalization Certificate; Certificate of Citizenship; current, valid driver's license; government ID (city, state, or federal); military ID (military and dependents); work ID (must be currently employed by the company); student ID (must be currently enrolled); Merchant Marines card (also known as a “Seamen's” or “Z” card); pilot or flight attendant ID. Note: Social Security cards are NOT acceptable as identification.
  • Two passport photographs. Photographs must be 2 × 2 inches in size. The image size from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head should be between 1 inch and 13/8 inches. They may be in color or black and white. They must be full face, front view with a plain white or off-white background. Photographs should be taken in normal street attire, without a hat or headgear that obscures the hair or hairline.
  • The applicable fee. A fee of $110 plus a $25 execution fee is charged for adults 16 years and older for a passport book valid for ten years from the date of issue. The fee for children under 16 years of age is $80 for a five-year passport book plus $25 for the execution of the application. The fee for passport book renewals by mail is $110 (there is no execution fee added).
  • DSP-64 Lost or Stolen Passport Form (if necessary). In addition to the items listed above, if your passport was lost or stolen, you will need to complete and submit this form (available at passport facilities and on the Web).

Passport renewals can be handled through the mail in some instances. You may apply by mail if: (1) you can submit your most recent passport and it is not mutilated, altered, or damaged; (2) you were at least 16 years old when your most recent passport was issued; (3) you were issued your most recent passport less than 15 years ago; and (4) you use the same name as on your most recent passport, OR, you have had your name changed by marriage or court order and can submit proper documentation to reflect your name changes.

In order to apply for a renewal by mail, you must fill out and submit Form DSP-82, which can be obtained at a passport facility or downloaded from the Web site. Attach to it the following: (1) your most recent passport; (2) two identical passport photographs; and (3) the $40 fee. If your name changed, enclose a certified copy of the Court Order, Adoption Decree, Marriage Certificate, or Divorce Decree specifying another name for you to use. Mail the above items to: National Passport Center; P.O. Box 13349, Philadelphia, PA 19101-3349.

Normal processing time for a passport application is 25 working days. However, it is recommended that you apply for your passport several months in advance of your planned departure. If you will need visas from foreign embassies, allow more time. If you need to leave in a hurry, you may expedite the process for an additional fee of $60 per passport. When requesting expedited service, two-way overnight mail for each application is strongly suggested. If you are applying by mail and wish to have your processing expedited, clearly mark the envelope EXPEDITED. You should receive your passport in 7–10 business days if using expedited service and two-way overnight delivery, depending upon the reliability of your overnight service.

If your passport is lost or stolen, report the loss on Form DSP-64 when you apply, in person, for your new passport. If you are abroad, report the loss immediately to local police authorities and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. Remember to write your current address in the space provided in your passport, so that, if it is found, it can be returned to you.

The State Dept. suggests you make two copies of the identification page—one to leave with a friend or relative at home in case of an emergency, and one to keep with you in the event that your passport is lost or stolen while abroad. This will make it easier to get a new passport, should it be necessary. It is also a good idea to carry two extra passport-size photos with you.

You also have the option of getting a passport card instead of a passport book. You can purchase both a passport book and card for an additional fee. If you would like more information about obtaining or renewing a passport visit the State Dept. website (http://travel.state.gov ) or call the National Passport Information Center, 1-877-487-2778 — TTY/TDD: 1-888-874-7793.

Source: Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs. Web: http://travel.state.gov.

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