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General Passport Questions

What is a passport?

A passport is a government-issued, official document that is used for international traveling purposes by air or sea. If you wish to travel outside the United States, you are required to get a new passport card or a passport book. In order to apply for first time passports, the process must be completed in person. You can schedule an appointment at a local passport agency by calling the National Passport Information Center at 1-877-487-2778. For more information, visit the New Passport page.

Who needs a passport?

Individuals traveling outside the United States need to have a passport on hand. For example, if you intend to fly internationally by air, a passport is mandatory. You also need a passport if you are an adult US citizen traveling by sea from Canada, Bermuda, Mexico or the Caribbean. As it pertains to travel by land, you must have a new passport if you are arriving in the United States from Mexico or Canada.

How long will my passport remain valid?

If your passport was issued when you were 16 or older, then it remains valid for 10 years. If you were 15 years old or younger, you must renew it every five years. Keep in mind that many foreign countries require that a United States passport is to be at least six months prior to entry.

What is the difference between a passport book and passport card?

A United States passport book is used for traveling internationally by air, land or sea. On the other hand, a US passport card is for the purpose of entering the country from Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean at land border crossings or sea ports-of-entry. A passport card cannot be used for international travel by air. Both a passport book and a passport card are valid for 10 years. However, if you are a minor under the age of 16, you are required to renew after five years. More information about passport cards can be found on the Passport Cards page.

Where can I get a passport application?

There are several ways to apply and submit a passport application form. The most convenient method is online, through the United States Department of State – Bureau of Consular Affairs website. You can also request a passport application at an authorized passport acceptance facility, or call the National Passport Information Center for further information. Simply call 1-877-484-2778. For the hard of hearing, the number is 1-888-874-7793.

Passport Renewal

How do I renew my passport?

When renewing passports, US citizens have the option to renew passports online, by mail or in person. To renew by mail, you must meet the following criteria:

Along with your passport application, you are required to submit the most recent passport book/card, payment for any applicable fee and a new passport photo. If the aforementioned does not apply to you, then complete your passport renewal process in person. Visit the Renew Passport page for more information.

When do I need to renew my passport?

If you are 16 or older, your United States passport will remain valid for 10 years. If you are under the age of 16, your United States passport will remain valid for five years. In order to avoid any penalties or late fees, it is highly recommended that you renew passport prior to its expiration date. You may have the option to do so either by mail or in person, depending on certain factors.

Can I renew my passport by mail?

Yes, if you meet certain criteria you are eligible to complete renewal of passport by mail. First make sure that the following applies to you:

Should you meet the aforementioned criteria, then you can renew your passport by mail in a few, easy steps. Simply submit your application, along with your recent United States passport/card, payment for any applicable fee and a new passport photo to the address on the form.

What are the renewal fees?

Renewal fees may vary depending on what type of passport you are applying for and how quickly you wish to receive it. Generally speaking, fees are as follows: $140 for an adult passport book and card, $110 for an adult passport book alone or $30 for an adult passport card. An execution fee is not required if you are filling out Form DS-82. Should you also request expedited service, an additional $60 fee will apply.

Can I request a large passport book when renewing?

Yes, if you are a frequent traveler, it may be in your best interest to request a larger passport book. A larger passport book contains 52 pages, and you can ask for a copy at no extra cost. Make sure to select the “52 page” box option on your application for passport form during your renewal process. There is more information about how to add pages to passports on the Adding Pages to Passport page.

Documentation Requirements

Which US citizenship documents are accepted?

When obtaining a new passport in person, all US citizens must present primary proof of United States citizenship. Acceptable documents include the following:

If you are unable to present primary documentation, a combination of secondary documentation can be used as proof of identity. An example of a valid combination is a Social Security Card, Employee ID, a library card and credit card.

What ID documents are accepted?

When obtaining a passport in person, US Citizens must provide primary identification documents that can include any of the following:

In the event that you are unable to present primary identification, a combination of secondary documents will also be accepted. For example, you can submit your Social Security Card, your credit card, your library card and Employee ID as proof of identity.

What is secondary ID documentation?

If you are unable to present primary ID documentation when getting a new passport, then you can submit a combination of secondary identification documents. These documents will serve as necessary proofs of ID and the more you show at the time of application, the better.

You can also attend your passport appointment with an identifying witness who can swear to your identity. This individual must be a United States citizen or resident, have proof of ID on them, have known you for at least two years and be able to fill out Form DS-71.

Do I have to provide a Social Security Number?

If you have a Social Security Number at the time of obtaining a new passport, then are required to provide it. Failure to do so may result in the denial of a passport issuance or significant delays. If you have yet to be issued a Social Security Number, then you can simply put zeros in Box no. 5 of your application. For further information, contact the National Passport Information Center at 1-877-484-2778.

What if I do not have a birth certificate to present as proof of ID?

If you were born in the country and do not have any birth record on file, you need to present other documents in order to get a new passport. First ask the Vital Statistics office in the state of your birth to hand you a letter of no record issued and the years that were searched for your birth record. Additionally, show early public records to prove that you were born in the United States.

If you were not born in the United States, you can present your foreign birth certificate with the names of both your parents, proof of their U.S. citizenship and marriage certificate.

Processing Times

How long does it take to get my passport?

Standard passport processing time is between four to six weeks. If you wish to have your passport expedited, the processing time will be shortened to three weeks. If your passport is expedited at a passport agency, you can expect to receive the new passport book within eight business days. For more information, visit the Expedited Services page.

How long does it take to get my expedited passport?

If you have requested to get expedited passports, passport processing time is about roughly three weeks. When ordering an expedited passport through an online agency, it will take roughly eight business days to receive it.

How do I find out the status of my passport application?

If a new passport was issued but you have not yet received it, call the National Passport Information Center. You can reach them at 1-877-487-2778. For the hard of hearing, simply call 1-888-874-7793.

Can I request overnight delivery?

You may request overnight delivery for your passport book, but this service is not available for passport cards. You are responsible for paying the overnight delivery service fee, in addition to all other standard passport fees.

Lost/Stolen Passport

How do I report my lost or stolen passport?

There are two ways that you can report stolen passport credentials: you can either call the US Department of State’s toll-free number 1-877-487-2778 (TTY 1-888-874-7793), or you can complete, sign and mail in the DS-64, Statement Regarding a Lost or Stolen Passport Book and/or Card Form. More information about reporting and replacing passports can be found at the Lost or Stolen Passport page.

What should I do if I found my lost/stolen passport after reporting it?

The first thing that you should know about reported lost and stolen passports is that they are invalidated the moment you report them. After that, they cannot be revalidated, which means you can no longer use them as proof of your US citizenship. Additionally, if you find your original passport, the US Department of State requests you to mail it to the address on the back of the DS-64 Form for cancellation. It is up to you whether you want to request that it be returned or destroyed.

Where can I apply for a replacement passport?

If you are trying to obtain a lost passport replacement, there are multiple places to submit a passport application. These include:

Applicants also have the option of applying online for a replacement passport.

Read the Lost or Stolen Passport or Damaged Passport pages for more details about ordering replacement passports.

How long does it take to get my replacement passport?

The amount of time it takes for travelers to receive a lost or stolen passport replacement depends on the type of requested service. Standard service takes between four to six weeks, while expedited passports arrive within three weeks. In addition, you can apply for a passport online and receive your documentation even faster.

What should I do if my electronic passport has been stolen or lost?

Just like with a physical passport card or booklet, you must report your missing credentials and apply for a new passport online or in person at a local Passport Agency, Embassy or Consulate. For more information on how, review the New Passport page.

Passports for Minors

Are there special requirements for passports issued to those under 18?

Yes, in order to obtain a passport for children, you must provide parental consent for all applicants under the age of 16. The US Department of State requires that both parents are present when the child is applying for a passport. If one parent cannot be present, a signed, notarized DS-3053, Statement of Consent from the non-applying parent/guardian form must be given. If the DS-3053 cannot be provided by the non-applying parent, the applying parent/guardian must include a DS-5525, Statement of Exigent/Special Family Circumstances Form and give proof of why the other parent cannot be present.

If the child only has one parent, evidence of sole authority is needed.

If both parents cannot be present, a third party has the power to apply for a passport for minors, as long as they have a written statement or affidavit granting authority.

In addition to parental consent, proof of a parental relationship must also be given. This can come in the form of a birth certificate (US or foreign), an adoption decree, a custody decree or a Consular Report of Birth Abroad of a United States Citizen (FS-240).

Minors who are between the ages of 16 and 17 do not have to provide the above criteria, as long as their parents do not object to them obtaining a United States passport and they have an identification of their own.

Is consent required of both parents or legal guardians?

If you are applying for a passport for minors, parental consent is required for all individuals under the age of 16. Both parents or guardians must be present to give consent. If one parent cannot appear, a signed, notarized DS-3053, Statement of Consent from the non-applying parent/guardian Form must be provided along with the DS-11 Form.

If the child only has one parent or guardian, proof of sole authority must be provided as well. If the child has two parents but one cannot provide consent with the DS-3053 Form, a DS-5525, Statement of Exigent/Special Family Circumstances Form must be given by the applying parent to explain why the other parent/guardian is not available. This parent will also be asked to show proof as to why the other parent/guardian cannot appear.

In the event that either guardians or parents cannot be present to provide consent, a third party can also apply for a child passport, as long as a signed, notarized affidavit or written statement from the parents can be provided. Bring a photocopy of the parents’ IDs, and if only one parent is included in the written statement or affidavit, a third party must show evidence of the one parent’s sole custody.

The only instance in which you will not have to obtain parental consent when submitting a US passport application is if you are a minor between the ages of 16 and 17. If you have your own identification, you can submit a passport application by yourself.

For more information, visit Passport Requirements.

What is considered evidence of parental relationship?

If you are applying for a passport for minors, there are a number of documents that you can use, which are considered evidence of a parental relationship. These include:

What should I do if my baby was born abroad?

If your child was born outside of the United States, contact the closest US Embassy or Consulate to apply for a Consular Report of Birth Abroad of a Citizen of the United States of America (CRBA) as soon as possible. The CRBA is used to document that your baby is a citizen of the United States. If an officer of the Consulate or Embassy approves your application, the US Department of State will issue your child a CRBA, which can be used as proof of US citizenship when applying for your child’s infant passport.

How long is passport for a minor valid?

US passports for individuals under the age of 16 are only valid for five years. It is recommended that you renew passport credentials at least nine months prior to expiration, as certain countries do not allow entrance if a passport is valid for less than six months.

Passport Photo

How many photos are required to get a passport?

When getting your United States passport and following passport photo guidelines, you are required to submit one photo along with your application. You must make sure that your passport photo meets a list of set requirements in order to avoid any delays. For example, a black-and-white photo will not be accepted. You must submit it in color and printed on matte or glossy photo quality paper.

Further guidelines are provided on the Passport Photo page.

Can I take my own passport photo?

Although you are welcome to take your own passport photos, the United States Department of State – Bureau of Consular Affairs recommends turning to professional services for assistance. A professional passport photo center will be familiar with the requirements you must adhere to, and thus help to minimize the potential of any errors.

Where can I take my passport photo?

As long as you meet the set of passport photo requirements, the United States Department of State – Bureau of Consular Affairs accepts any picture taken at a professional passport photo center. You can find one locally that is close to you, or take the photo at an authorized passport agency. You may also choose to take the passport photo yourself; however it’s recommended that you review Passport Photo requirements first.

Can I wear glasses in my picture?

Yes, if you wear glasses on a regular basis, then you may wear them as part of your passport photo. However, there must be no glare or reflection that hinders your eyes from being seen in clear view. As it pertains to sunglasses, you are only allowed to wear them for your passport photos if they were prescribed to you with dark or tinted lenses. Keep in mind that you may be required to present proof, such as a letter or other form of documentation, which confirms you wear prescription sunglasses.

How should I take a picture of my baby or toddler?

If you are taking a picture of your toddler at a passport photo center, a professional can assist you with how to best position your child. Be aware that your child must have both eyes opened for the photo, and he or she must also be looking straight into the camera. The only exception to this is a newborn.

A passport photo will still be accepted if your newborn baby does not have both their eyes completely opened. Nobody else can be in the picture with them, and the photo must be taken in an off-white or plain white background. Additionally, make sure that are no shadows covering their face.

Passport Fees

How much does it cost to get a passport?

The fees to obtain a United States passport vary, depending on a few factors. For example, the passport application fee for an adult passport and book is $140. If you wish to solely obtain a passport book, the cost is $110, and a passport card alone is $30. An execution fee in the amount of $25 is also necessary for those filling out Form DS-11. However, this fee does not apply for passport renewals, which requires Form DS-82. Should you wish to have your passport expedited to you, there is an additional fee of $60.

Visit the New Passport page for more information.

Are fees different for minors under the age of 16?

Yes, a passport that is issued to a minor under the age of 16 has a different set of passport application fees. To request both a minor passport book and a passport card, the fee will be $95. A minor passport book alone is $25, and a minor passport card is $15. An execution fee of $25 is also required. These fees are non-refundable. Keep in mind that all minors must apply in person for a new passport.

Must I pay a fee to fix an error on my passport?

No, there is no charge for printing errors or spelling errors on your United States passport, as long as it is still valid. In order to make passport corrections, send Form DS-5505 with a passport picture and proof of the error. If you report the error within a year of the passport’s issue date, then your corrected one will be valid for 10 years. However, if the error is reported a year post-issue date, then your passport will remain valid until the expiration date of your original.

What is the fee to add pages to my passport?

There are no passport fees to request a larger passport book. You simply need to select the “52 Page” box on a passport application when completing the renewal process. Make sure to fill out Form DS-82 if you are renewing a US passport or Form DS-11 for first-time applicants. Keep in mind that a request for a larger passport book does not guarantee that you will receive one if there are supply limitations.

To learn how to add pages to passport books, visit the Add Pages on Passport page.

What are accepted forms of payment?

Credit cards, money orders, checks and cash are accepted at a passport agency. At authorized passport locations, you can submit payment either by cash (in the exact amount), money order or personal check. Be mindful that no credit cards are accepted in these types of facilities. When applying by mail, checks or money orders made payable to “Department of State” will be accepted.

If you are applying out of the country, visit the US embassy or consulate in your area with foreign currency equivalent to the dollar amount.

Miscellaneous

How do I get a new passport if I am out of the country?

As an applicant for a US passport while out of the country, you are required to fill out the same forms, provide the same documentation (proof of citizenship, proof of ID, photocopy of ID, proof of parental relationship and consent, if a minor) and pay the same fees as those inside the nation. However, you cannot follow the steps provided by the DS-11 Form. You must instead visit the website of your US embassy or consulate for information on the procedure of submitting a passport application. Each embassy and consulate has a different method to follow.

Some extra things to keep in mind when applying are:

What should I do if there is an error on my passport?

In the event there is an error on your passport for your place of birth, your gender or the spelling of your name, you can get it corrected free of charge at any point while your US passport is still valid. All you have to do is mail a DS-5504 Form, a single color passport picture and evidence of the mistake to the address listed on the form.

If you report this error within a year of when your passport was issued, the new passport you receive will be valid for 10 years. If one year has already lapsed, the updated passport will only be valid until its original expiration date.

How do I change my name on my passport?

The process for changing name on passport documents varies based on how recently your travel ID was issued. If it has been less than a year since the issuance of your original passport, all you have to do is send in a DS-5504 Form by mail with your active passport, a color passport picture and your name change document (original or certified copy). You will not be charged any processing fee, as long as you don’t request expedited services.

If it has been more than one year since you were issued a passport, and you are eligible to use the DS-82 renewal form, then complete the passport renewal application and mail it in with your valid passport, a color passport picture, your name change document (original or certified copy), and payment for the passport fees.

If it has been more than a year but you are not eligible to use the DS-82 Form, then you have to go to a Passport Agency or Acceptance Facility to submit a DS-11 Passport Application Form, your name change document (original or certified copy), a color passport picture, proof of ID, proof of US citizenship, a photocopy of your ID and payment for the fees. However, in the event your name changed because of a recent marriage, and you have already obtained an ID with your new name, you do not have to show proof of name change.

Read more about it on the Correct Passport page.

How many blank visa pages do I need to travel?

The amount of blank pages you need depends on the country you are visiting during your travels. Some nations require that travelers have at least two blank visa/stamp pages. Others require you to have at least four blank pages. If you do not meet a given country’s requirements, certain airlines will not allow you to board the plane, requiring you to purchase additional passport pages before your trip.

What should I do if I have a life or death emergency?

Life or death emergencies are defined as involving a serious injury, serious illness or the death of someone in your immediate family, which requires you to leave the country within 24-48 hours to go to a foreign country. If you need a passport in the event of a life or death emergency, Passport Agency can be visited.

If you are in the US, you are asked to schedule an appointment at the closest Passport Agency by calling the 24-hour National Passport Information Center’s automated service at 1-877-487-2778 (TTY/TDD 1-888-874-7793). If the automated system is unavailable, you can speak to a representative Monday through Friday, non-holidays, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST. In the event you must call outside of business hours and you can’t make an appointment with the automated service, call the following number: 202-647-4000.

If you are out of the country and are experiencing a life or death emergency, you must contact your nearest US Embassy or Consulate.