How to Apply for a US Passport

All citizens of the United States of America, including children, are eligible to receive a US travel passport.

This is a useful document for anyone intending to travel internationally, since everyone moving into or out of the U.S. is required to hold a valid passport. The passport is also regarded as a proof of U.S. citizenship.

There are several types of passports made available by the U.S. government. These include the regular passport, service passport, official passport and diplomatic passport.

All these are issued based on the nature of a person’s travel, and all have different validity periods.

This article will focus on how you can acquire a regular passport, which is also the most frequently issued passport.

This passport however can only issued to applicants who are citizens of the united states or nationals born in unincorporated territories outside the U.S. such as Guam and Puerto Rico. The following steps should be followed before an applicant is issued with a passport.

1. Getting all necessary documents ready

Before you start the process of application, you will first of all need to gather the following documents which will be used by the U.S. Department of State to generate your passport:

  • Original and copy of your birth certificate or certificate of naturalization: This is meant to prove that you are indeed a U.S. citizen.
  • Identification document (both original and a copy): It can be a driver’s license, social security card or even your birth certificate. This is used to show your personal details including your full names and date of birth.
  • Passport photograph: It must be a recent photo not older than 6 months. The photo must also measure 2 by 2 inches and have a white background, with the applicants full face being visible.

2. Filling the required application forms

The application form for passport application is called the DS-11 and it can be downloaded from the official website of U.S. Department of state. It is the required form meant to be filled by anyone who is making a first-time application, including applicants under 18 years of age.

Application documents for minors who are yet to receive official government identification must be accompanied by copies of both parents’ identification documents and proof of consent from both parents.

It is important to ensure that the application is filled with accurate and honest details. Inaccurate information will lead to automatic disqualification and may cause more legal problems for the applicant.

After the form has been filled, it has to be printed, but not signed. The signing of the application must be done at the passport acceptance facility where the form will be submitted.

3. Submission of the application form

The U.S. Bureau of Consular Affairs has a list of acceptance facilities where duly filled application forms can be submitted in person. This list includes selected post offices, county clerk’s offices and other government offices.

The list of where you can submit your form depending on your location can be found in the U.S. Department of State website.

It is in the acceptance facility that you will be allowed to sign the form, with a government witness present.

4. Payment of processing fees

At the acceptance facility, the applicant will be required to pay a fee before the application can undergo further processing. The current fees for first time adult applicants is $135 for application and execution.

Applicants who are minors are charged $105 for the same. A separate processing fee of $25 is also charged for all normal passport applications. Applicants who need their passports to be processed in under 3 weeks need to pay a $65 processing fee to fast-track their application.

This fee can only be paid either by money order or through checks. The fee is also not refundable and are subject to change. You will have to confirm the current rates with the Department of Consular Affairs.

5. Collection of passport

The normal processing period for a normal passport is between 4 to 6 weeks. Applicants who pay for expedited processing will however receive their passports in under 3 weeks.

During this period, the applicant can track the status of their application through an online status system in the U.S. Department of state website. When the passport is ready for collection, the applicant will be notified by e-mail and they can then collect the new passport from the nearest post office.

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  1. Apply for your passport as soon as possible. An adult passport is good for 10 years, so one will only get a few passports in one’s lifetime. Do not wait until one has a trip planned.