Passport Requirements 101: A Guide for New Applicants


Whether you are planning an intercontinental cruise or a major trip to a new country, all of this will only be possible with a passport. Even though the first time you apply for a passport you may be a little overwhelmed with all of the stipulations and requirements, getting a passport is really not as difficult as it may first appear. Here are a few of the more common questions new applicants tend to have about the requirements to obtain a passport and the answers you will need to know moving forward.

What can you use for proof of citizenship?

Your proof of citizenship for passport purposed can be provided as your birth certificate or natural citizenship papers. However, if you have previously applied for a passport, your previous passport can be used as proof that you are indeed a United States citizen.

What are the guidelines for the photo you submit for your passport?

You can choose to take your own passport photo to be submitted with your passport application or you can have a photo taken professionally, which is a service often provided by places like drug stores and post offices. Either way, the photo that you submit must meet the following requirements:

  • Your photo must be in color.
  • Your photo must be printed on high-quality paper.
  • The photo must be recent; taken within the last six months.
  • Your photo must be taken against a plain white background.
  • The photo used cannot be the same photo that you used for a previous passport.
  • The lighting in the photo must be evenly distributed, without darkened or shadowed areas.
  • Your photo should be two-inches by two-inches.

How can you prove you need a passport expedited?

If you are traveling to a foreign country with little notice, it may be possible for you to get your passport expedited with some companies. In order to prove that you need your passport quickly, you will usually be required to show proof of your travel arrangements, such as proof of your airline tickets and clear evidence of when you are scheduled to leave.

How much do you have to pay to obtain a passport?

In order to obtain a passport book, you will have to pay a fee to the Department of State for $110 if you are an adult who is over the age of 16. Under the age of 16, the fee is $80. For the additional passport card, adults must pay $30 and those under age 16 must pay $15. Additionally, some companies do charge other fees if you opt for expedited services and you can usually pay extra for priority shipping if you need your passport in a hurry.