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Get a Passport

As a United States Citizen, whether by birth or naturalization, you are entitled to a United States passport. A passport is a document that identifies you as a United States citizen and is necessary to travel abroad in most instances. This page will describe in detail how to acquire your first passport.

Applying for a United States Passport

The first step in applying for a United States passport is completing the Form DS-11. There are a few ways to do this. You can fill it out online, you can print it and fill it out by hand or you can go to a local passport agency and fill it out there. Note that you are not to sign this form until you are in the presence of the Acceptance Agent.

Submitting Your Application for a United States Passport

Unless you are renewing your passport you must show up in person in order to get your passport. There are many different places that have been designated as appropriate places to submit your passport application and the State Department provides a website that allows you to search for them here. In order to avoid your application being rejected be sure to include your social security number on your DS-11 form.

Documents Needed to Obtain a United States Passport

You will also need certain documentation to prove that you are a United States Citizen. In order to do this you will need to provide a previous passport (If this is not your first time applying), an unabridged birth certificate with a registrar's seal on it, a Form FS-240 also known as a Consular Report of Birth Abroad or Certification of Birth or your naturalization certificate.

If you cannot provide one of the above proofs of citizenship you will need to submit some other evidence that you are in fact a United States citizen. There are many different records that may suffice for this category and in the unlikely event that you do not have primary citizenship records you may find secondary documents at this page.

You will also have to submit proper identification. If you do not have one of the following forms of identification you will have to provide some sort secondary identification listed on this page.

You will have to have one of the following:

  • A previously issued passport if you are not applying for the first time,
  • Your Naturalization certificate,
  • An unexpired driver's license,
  • A government ID, or
  • A military ID.

All of the documents that you bring with you must be photocopied as well. The photocopies must be on standard letter paper without any other marks but the photocopied image. If you are using a form of secondary identification or proof of citizenship you will need to follow additional guidelines for photocopying.

Passport photos

When getting a passport photo it is important to follow certain guidelines in order for it to be accepted. A local photographer will be familiar with the requirements for passport photos, but you should be aware of them too.

  • The passport photo must be in color and on photographic paper.
  • It should also be a square with all sides being two inches in length.
  • It should be recent, meaning within the past six months.
  • Your face should be in the center of the photograph and you should have a neutral expression on your face.
  • The photo should be a clear depiction of your appearance. No feature of your face should be obscured and you should dress as you normally do during the course of a normal day.

Passport Fees

Passport fees are dependent upon a variety of factors based on age and materials. For a detailed list of passport fees click here.