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What Is A US Passport Application?
A US Passport Application is a government form issued by the State Department that must be filled out and submitted by a US citizen to obtain a United States passport.
Along with a completed and signed application, an applicant must also submit proof of their United States citizenship , proof of identity , a recent color photograph , and the appropriate fees .
A US Passport is irrefutable proof that an individual is a US citizen and it allows the holder to travel in and out of the United States freely.
To see what a US Passport Application looks like, click here.
How To Apply For A US Passport
The application process for a US passport can be tedious, but staying organized will make the task easier. Follow these steps to apply for a US passport:
Step 1: Gather the required documents: It is important to start the application process for a US Passport several months before your planned travel. You will need the following documents to submit your passport application:
- Completed application form- Form DS-11
- Proof of identity- This can be any legal document that contains both your signature and photograph like a driver’s license, Certificate of Naturalizaion, Certificate of Citizenship, or military ID. For more options, there is a list of accepted identification documents on the DS-11 application form.
Proof of US Citizenship-
If you were born in the United States, a previous passport or a certified birth certificate can be used as proof of citizenship. If you do not have a birth certificate, you must submit a registrar’s notice with one of the following supporting documents:
- A hospital birth record
- An early baptismal or circumcision certificate
- Early census, school, medical, or family bible records
- Insurance documents or a published birth announcement
- Notarized affidavits like a DS-10 Birth Affidavit
If you were not born in the United States, you will have to submit a certificate of naturalization, certificate of citizenship, or a consular report of birth abroad.
For more information about what forms of proof of citizenship are acceptable, you can refer to the directions page on the application.
Step 2: Prepare your application package: You will want to gather your application, proof of identity and citizenship, photograph, fees, and all other required materials and have them organized. Refer to this checklist to ensure you have everything you need.
- Completed UNSIGNED DS-11 application form (you will sign when you submit the application in person)
- Passport photo
- Original and photo copies of your proof of identity documents and proof of citizenship documents
- Required fees
Step 3: Schedule an appointment at a passport acceptance facility: You can log on to the US Department of State website to find a passport acceptance facility near you. If you are applying for a passport for the first time, you must apply in person.
Not all acceptance centers require appointments but it is a good idea to call ahead and find out. Some examples of acceptance centers you may find in your area are the Post Office or the Clerk of Court.
Step 4: Submit your application: When you go to your scheduled appointment, you will sign your application and submit it with all required documents and fees.
For more information about applying for a US Passport in person, click here.
How To Apply For A US Passport Online
You cannot apply for a US Passport online. If you are applying for a US Passport for the first time, you must apply in person at a designated passport acceptance facility.
If you are renewing your passport, you can mail the required documents to avoid an in person appointment.
Even though you cannot apply for a passport online, you can fill out the required forms, locate an acceptance center, check the application status, report a lost or stolen passport, schedule an appointment at a passport agency, and find the answers to many of your questions all online at the Department of State website.
US Passport Renewal
If you currently have a US Passport and need to renew it either because it is set to expire or you have changed your name, you can do so by mail. To figure out if you are eligible for renewal, you must meet the following criteria:
- Have your passport in your possession to submit with your renewal application
- Passport must be undamaged
- Passport must have been issued when you were 16 years or older
- Passport must have been issued within the last 15 years
- Passport was issued in your current name or you can document your name change
If you fit all these criteria, you can renew your passport by mail. Follow these steps:
Step 1: Fill out the US Passport Renewal Application, form DS-82 . You will select whether you are renewing a passport book, card, or both.
Step 2: Print the completed form and sign and date it. Be sure to print the form single sided as the Department of State will not accept double sided forms.
Step 3: If you are renewing your passport because your name has changed, you will need to submit a certified copy of the legal name change document. This can be a marriage certificate, divorce decree, or a court ordered name change document.
Step 4: Obtain a passport photo. You will need to submit one passport photo with your renewal application. There are strict guidelines that the photo needs to meet so it is best to have the photo taken professionally.
Step 5: Write a check or money order for the appropriate fees. The check should be made out to the “US Department of State”. They do not accept cash and there is not currently a way to pay this fee online.
Step 6: Submit your application, all supporting documents, photograph, check, and your current US Passport by mail. Check the Department of State website for the correct mailing address.
Follow this link for access to all of the passport application forms from the Department of State.
Image via Pexels by Spencer
How Long Does The US Passport Application Process Take?
A standard application can take between six to eight weeks to process. It is always suggested that you submit your application at least ten weeks before you plan to travel to provide a buffer for any delays.
When submitting your application, you can opt for expedited processing which costs an additional fee. This will speed up the time of your passport processing time to two to three weeks.
If you really need your passport in hurry, you can seek the services of third party passport expeditor companies. These companies will help you through the application process to ensure you have all the right documents and photos then send a representative to the passport agency for you. Although convenient, these services can be very expensive.
Checking US Passport Application Status
You can track the status of your application online at the Department of State website. It may take up to six weeks for the status to show as “processing”. If the status shows “unavailable”, it means that your application packet is still in transit to the Department of State.
To check your application status, you will need to following information:
- Last name
- Date of birth
- Last four digits of social security number
Click here to check the status of your passport application right now!
US Passport Application Fees
You will be required to pay a fee to either apply for a new passport or renew your old passport. Fees must be paid by check or money order made out to the “US Department of State”.
Here is a list of the current US Passport Application Fees:
- Passport Book : $110.00
- Passport Card : $30.00
- Passport Book and Card : $140.00
- Passport for children under 15 : $80.00
- Passport Card for children under 15 : $15.00
- Passport Book and Card for children under 15 : $95.00
- Execution Fee : $35.00
- Expedited Service : $60.00
- 1-2 Day Delivery : $17.56
- File Search : $150.00
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