How To Apply For US Passport

This page provides information on how to apply for a passport for the first time. If you have a passport already and need to renew it, please visit our Renew Your Passport page for more information. It is recommended for US citizens to have a valid US passport when:

  • Those with family living or traveling abroad
  • Those who are thinking about taking a vacation outside the US
  • Those who have a job that requires them to travel outside of the US

How Long Is a Passport Valid

If you received your passport at age 16 or older, then your US passport is valid for 10 years. If you were 15 years or younger when you received your passport, then it is only valid for 5 years. The issue date can be found on the data page in your Passport Book or on the front of your Passport Card. In some countries they require that your passport be valid for at least 6 months beyond the dates of your trip. In some cases, airlines will not allow you to board if this requirement is not met.

Apply For a First Time Passport

When you apply for a passport for the first time you will need to do so in person. Some post offices offer passport services. To find one near you, use our search local post office locations page. Once you find a post office, you will need to call and schedule an appointment. At your appointment you will need to bring all required documentation, to verify what you need to bring you can ask the person when you call to make the appointment.

US Passport Book

Required Documents

When applying for your US passport you need to fill out the Form DS-ll. Please note, do not sign the application until instructed to do so by the acceptance agent. You must provide a Social Security number, if you have been issued one. If you do not have a Social Security number, you must submit a statement, signed and dated, that includes the phrase, "I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States of America that the following is true and correct: I have never been issued a Social Security Number by the Social Security Administration." If you need to, you can request a larger passport book with 52 pages, at no additional cost, by checking the "52 page" box at the top of the DS-11 Form.

You will also need to provide evidence of US citizenship. Your evidence must be an original or certified copy, they won't accept photocopies or notarized copies. You are required to submit one of the following documents:

  • Fully-valid, undamaged US passport (may be expired)
  • US birth certificate that was issued by the city, county, or state of birth. Lists your full name, date of birth, and place of birth, has your parent(s) full names. Includes the date filed with registrar's office (must be within one year of birth). It also has to have the registrar's signature and the seal of the issuing authority
  • Consular Report of Birth Abroad or Certification of Birth
  • Certificate of Naturalization
  • Certificate of Citizenship

You will need to also bring a photocopy of the front (and back, if there is printed information) of the US citizenship evidence you're submitting. Photocopies must be legible, black and white, single sided and on white 8.5x11 standard paper. If you don't want to submit a photocopy of your citizenship evidence, you may submit a second certified copy of your citizenship evidence, which they will keep on file. If you don't submit a photocopy or a second certified copy of your citizenship evidence, your passport processing could be delayed. Another required document you must give to the acceptance agent is proof of your identification. The ID must readily identify you. Below is a list of acceptable documents of identification:

  • US military ID or military dependent ID
  • Fully-valid, undamaged US passport (may be expired)
  • Government employee ID (city, county, state or federal)
  • Certificate of Naturalization or Citizenship
  • Valid foreign passport
  • Fully-valid US driver's license
  • Matricula Consular (Mexican Consular Identification)

Please note, if you have an out of state ID, you must present an additional ID.

You will also need to bring a photocopy of the front and back of each ID document you will present at the time of when you apply for a passport in person. The photocopy must be on a white, 8 /12x11 standard paper, the photocopy cannot be double sided and do not decrease the size of the image (However you are allowed to enlarge the image).

The instructions on this page is for applying for a US passport for the first time and you are 18 or older. If you are ages 16-17, then the process is the same, except you need to show parental awareness.

Show Parental Awareness

If you have your own current identification document (ID), you may apply for a passport. You must show at least one parent or guardian knows that you are applying for a passport. Your passport application may be denied if they have received written objection from one of your parents or legal guardians.

  • Examples of Parental Awareness
  • A parent appearing with you in person when you apply for your passport
  • A signed statement consenting to issuance of a passport from at least one parent (should be accompanied by a photocopy of that parent's ID)

If you want to apply for a passport but under the age of 16, you then need to look at how to apply for a passport for minors.

Passport Photo

When you turn in your passport application you must provide a photograph. Below is a list of requirements for passport photos. Make sure to read it so you don't have any unnecessary delays.

  • Passport Photo Requirements
  • Your head must face the camera directly with full face in view
  • You must have a neutral facial expression or a natural smile, with both eyes open
  • Taken in clothing normally worn on a daily basis
  • Taken in the last 6 months
  • Use a plain white or off-white background
  • Sized correctly (2x2 inches (51x51mm))
  • Head must be between 1-1 3/8 inches (25-35mm) from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head
  • Printed on matte or glossy photo quality paper
  • Printed in color
  • You cannot wear glasses. If you cannot remove your glasses for medical reasons, please include a signed note from your doctor with application
  • You cannot wear a hat or head covering. If you wear a hat or head covering for religious purposes, submit a signed statement that verifies that the hat or head covering in your photo is part of recognized, traditional religious attire that is customarily or required to be worn continuously in public
  • You cannot wear headphones or wireless hands-free devices

Please note, if you do not have the means of taking the photo yourself, you can see if the post office you are applying at offers passport photo services. To find out if they do and the cost, please contact your local post office location.

Can I remove red-eye from my photo?

Yes, you may remove red-eye. However, other digital alterations or editing is not allowed.

Can I wear a uniform in my photo?

You cannot wear a uniform, clothing that looks like a uniform, or camouflage attire.

Passport Fees

Below is a list of fees for both adults and children for Passport Books and Cards. For a full list of fees including passport renewals, applying by mail and other additional services, please view the Passport Fees page.

Adult Applicants (Age 16 and older)
Product Form Application Fee Execution (Acceptance) Fee
Passport Book DS-11 $110 $35
Passport Card DS-11 $30 $35
Passport Book & Card DS-11 $140 $35
Child Applicants (Age 15 and younger)
Product Form Application Fee Execution (Acceptance) Fee
Passport Book DS-11 $80 $35
Passport Card DS-11 $15 $35
Passport Book & Card DS-11 $95 $35

Please note, the application fee and the execution fee are paid separately.

Submit Passport Application

Once you have completed the form, collected all required documents and have your passport photo ready, it's now time to submit your application. Inside the US you can search for a local post office that offers passport services and call and make an appointment to come in person and submit your application. You may be eligible to apply in person at a passport agency if you are traveling soon. If you are applying outside the US, then please contact your US Embassy and Consulate for how to submit your documents.

Can I mail in my passport application?

When applying using Form DS-11, you are not eligible to mail in your application. Additionally, the Department of State does not currently have the option to submit your passport application online.

How long does it take to get a passport?

Below is the processing time for getting your passport:

Processing Times
Routine 4-6 Weeks
Expedited 2-3 Weeks
Expedited at Agency 8 Business Days
How will my passport be mailed to me?

Newly-issued passport books are delivered using Priority Mail with Delivery Confirmation, unless you pay for Priority Express return service at time of application. All passport cards will be mailed using First Class Mail. Passport cards cannot be delivered using Priority Express. Your citizenship evidence will be mailed back separately from your new passport.