How to apply for a Passport

How to Apply for a U.S. Passport

How to apply for a Passport

 If you are planning to travel to most locations outside the United States  you’ll need a passport for your trip.  If you are a U.S. citizen you don’t need a passport to travel to Puerto Rico or St. Thomas.
How to apply for a Passport

If you don’t already have a valid U.S. passport, the time to apply is now. Routine service takes approximately 6 weeks, depending on how busy the passport office is at the time you apply.  There is expedited passport service available for any additional fee.

If you already have a passport, be sure to check the expiration date.  Your passport is valid for 10 years, but remember that your children’s’ passports are only valid for 5 years. Many countries require that your passport have 6 months of validity on it when you enter the country, so check the expiration date and renew your passport if necessary.

Apply in Person

You must apply in person using Form DS-11 if at least one of the following is true:

  • You are applying for your first U.S. passport
  • You are under age 16
  • Your previous U.S. passport was issued when you were under age 16
  • Your previous U.S. passport was lost, stolen, or damaged
  • Your previous U.S. passport was issued more than 15 years ago

You can renew a passport conveniently by mail at any time if you meet certain criteria.  If you are applying for the first time or are under 16 years old, you must appear in person at a passport acceptance facility, including designated U.S. post offices, clerks of court, and public libraries.

If none of the above statements apply to you, you may be eligible to Renew using Form DS-82.

Please note: If you live in another country (including Canada) and you’re submitting Form DS-11, you must apply in person at a U.S. embassy or consulate.  See Applying for a U.S. Passport from Outside the United States.

Provide Evidence of U.S. Citizenship

You must submit one of the following. Your evidence must be an original or certified, physical copy. A certified copy is any document that has the seal or stamp of the official issuing authority.

  • Fully-valid, undamaged U.S. passport (may be expired)
  • U.S. birth certificate that meets the following requirements:
    • Issued by the city, county, or state of birth
    • Lists your full name, date of birth, and place of birth
    • Lists your parent(s)’ full names
    • Has the date filed with registrar’s office (must be within one year of birth)
    • Has the registrar’s signature
    • Has the seal of the issuing authority
  • Consular Report of Birth Abroad or Certification of Birth
  • Certificate of Naturalization
  • Certificate of Citizenship

If you cannot submit one of the above acceptable documents, or for more information, please see Citizenship Evidence.

For more information on how or where to apply, call the National Passport Information Center toll-free at 1-877-487-2778/1-888-874-7793 (TTY/TTD), or visit their website:

Application Status

It may take up to 6 weeks from the day you apply until your application status is “In Process.” During these weeks, your application is delivered to a mail facility, your payment is processed, and your application is scanned. If your passport status update says “Not Available,” your application and supporting documents are safely on their way to the passport office.

You can check your status online using the  Online Passport Status System.

What You Need to Check Your Passport Application Status

You can check your application status online or by phone. You will need the following information:

  1. Last Name
    • Include suffixes (ex. Jones III, Patton Jr, etc.)
    • Include hyphens as appropriate (ex. Jackson-Smith)
  2. Date of Birth (MM/DD/YYYY)
  3. Last Four Digits of Social Security Number

Check Online

  1. Access the Online Passport Status System to check your application status.
  2. You may not be able to get a status update for 4 weeks after you apply or renew.
  3. Receive automatic email updates on the status of your application by entering your email address after locating your pending application in the Online Passport Status System.

Check By Phone

  1. Call the National Passport Information Center at 1-877-487-2778 or 1-888-874-7793 (TDD/TTY) to speak to a Customer Service Representative (Se habla español) on Mondays-Fridays from 8:00am to 10:00pm Eastern Time (excluding federal holidays).
  2. You may not be able to get a status update for 4 weeks after you apply or renew.

How to apply for a Passport