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Passports

When traveling to abroad, most countries require you to have a valid passport for entry and most travel experts suggest that you carry a passport even in those countries that do not require it, as it is the best form of identification outside of the United States. Included here are answers to some common questions that will help you to obtain a passport with ease before your trip.

Do I need to apply for a passport in person?

You should apply for a passport in person if:

  • You are applying for a U.S. passport for the first time.
  • Your previous passport was lost, stolen or damaged.
  • Your previous U.S. passport has expired & was issued more than 15 years ago.
  • Your previous passport has expired and it was issued when you were under 16.
  • Your name has changed since your passport was issued and you do not have a legal document formally changing your name.
  • You are a minor child 14 or older. *For all minors age 14 – 17, parental consent may be requested and if your child does not have identification of his/her own, you will need to accompnany your child, present identification and co-sign the application.

How do I apply in person?

To apply for a passport in person you must:

1. Complete an application (Form DS-11)  but do not sign the DS-11 application form until the Passport Acceptance Agent instructs you to.

2. Submit proof of US Citizenship by providing any one of the following:

  • Previous U.S. Passport
  • Certified birth certificate issued by the city, county or state (http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/howto/w2w/w2welcom.htm tells you where to write for vital records such as a birth certificate)
  • Consular Report of Birth Abroad or Certification of Birth 
  • Naturalization Certificate 
  •  Certificate of Citizenship

If you do NOT have a previous U.S. passport or a certified birth certificate, you will need a letter of No Record issued by the State with your name, date of birth, which years were searched for a birth record and that there is no birth certificate on file for you.
AND as many of the following as possible:

    • baptismal certificate
    • hospital birth certificate
    • census record
    • early school record
    • family bible record
    • doctor's record of post-natal care

*These documents must be early public records showing the date and place of birth, preferably created within the first five years of your life.

*You may also submit an Affidavit of Birth, form DS-10A, from an older blood relative, i.e., a parent, aunt, uncle, sibling, who has personal knowledge of your birth. It must be notarized or have the seal and signature of the acceptance agent.

The following are NOT proof of citizenship

  • Voter registration cards
  • Army discharge papers

3. Present Proof of Identity using one of the following:

  • Previous U.S. Passport
  • Naturalization Certificate
  • Certificate of Citizenship
  • Current, valid drivers license
  • Current, valid Government ID: city, state or federal
  • Current, valid Military ID: military and dependants

*Your social security card may NOT be used as proof of identity.

If none of these are available, you will need:

    • Some form of signature ID (social security, credit, bank or library card
    • AND a person that can vouch for you. S/he must 1) have known you for at least two years, 2) be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, 3) have a valid ID and fill out Form DS-71 in front of the passport agent.

4. Provide two passport photos. Photos must be:

  • 2x2 inches in size
  • Identical
  • Taken within the past 6 months and showing current appearance
  • Color or black and white
  • Full face, frontal view with a plain white or off-white background
  • Between 1 inch and 1 3/8 inches from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head
  • Taken in normal street attire

5. Pay the application fee (see form instructions for latest fees).

6. Provide a Social Security Number.

Where do I go to apply in person?


There are Regional Passport Agencies throughout America, however most now only accept applications by appointment.

There are also over 4,500 passport acceptance facilities nationwide from which you can apply for or renew a passport. These locations include courts, post offices, libraries and county and municipal offices. Click here for an online locator tool from the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Passport Services/Customer Service.

How far in advance should I apply for a passport?


The general rule of thumb is that you will receive your passport six weeks after you apply, however it is recommended that you apply several months in advance of your departure to be safe. There is an additional fee for expedited service, which generally takes 2 weeks, and it is also recommended that you arrange for overnight delivery service sending your passport and having it returned to you when you choose expedited service.

Applying in Person > Renewing by Mail > Passport Costs > Changing Passport Names > Replacing Lost or Stolen Passports > Passport Application Forms > Contact the National Passport Information Center

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