The Ultimate Guide on How to Get a U.S. Passport 
There are many reasons why people get a passport but the most important is to have one to travel overseas. The processing can take from 8-weeks to one day. Whichever you choose to complete the process, the steps will not change. It starts by completing the required form to submit, gather the supporting documents (copies and original), and pay the fee. This guide will provide all the necessary steps to take to get a U.S. passport.
Getting a Routine or Expedited U.S. Passport
Forms to Complete
To get a U.S. passport, the U.S. Department of State has different forms for every circumstance. When you begin the process to get a new passport, do not submit more than one form (except for a minor passport application if one parent is absent) unless you are sending more than one application. So, submit one form per application (except for a minor passport application without one parent).
Now, a first-time applicant must complete Form DS-11, Application for a New U.S. Passport. If your passport had expired for more than 15-years, then you must complete this form as well. Having a passport that will expire soon or has less than six months validity, you must complete Form DS-82, U.S. Passport Renewal Application. Form DS-82 is also used if a passport has expired within the last 5-years. If your passport got lost or stolen, then complete Form-DS 64, Lost or Stolen U.S. Passport, For a Name Change, you will need to use the form DS-5504 form for a name change. These forms are for adults and minors when applying.
There are other forms in regards to circumstances related to minors, documents, and identity. When it comes to a minor passport application, both parents or legal guardian must be present to apply. If one is missing, then Form DS-3053, Statement of Consent or DS-5525, Statement of Exigent must be submitted along with the application.
If an original document like a birth certificate cannot be found, then Form DS-11, Birth Affidavit, must accompany the application. A form to prove someone’s identity such as DS-5520, Supplemental Questionnaire to Determine Identity is necessary.
Supplemental Documents and Fees
Forms are not the only document necessary to get a U.S. passport. Additional records are required to identify the applicant, as well as to know where the person lives, and work, if applicable. A list, provided by the U.S. Department of State, contains which materials are considered supplemental documents. Here is the list:
- Evidence of Citizenship
- Proof of relationship (for children under 16)
- Color passport photo and 2 in x 2 in (5.1 cm x 5.1 cm) dimension
Evidence of Citizenship: Proof of U.S. citizenship can be a U.S. birth certificate or Naturalization Certificate. Anyone of these documents must accompany the form. Copies will not be accepted. It will be returned to you after the process is over.
Identification: Proof of identities such as an expired passport, naturalization certificate, or current valid driver’s license. Copies of the parents’ identification cards are used for a minor’s application unless the minor has an expired passport.
Proof of Relationship: Parents or guardians can provide a copy of the minor’s birth certificate, adoption decree or court order, proof of sole guardianship or a notarized statement from the absent parent granting permission for a passport to be issued.
Color passport photo: A single color photo which is 2 in x 2 in and taken with a white background. The picture cannot be more than 6-months. No hats or head covering is allowed unless you provide a signed statement which states it is for religious purposes. No glasses should be worn unless a signed statement from a doctor that says otherwise. The applicant must look directly into the camera and not smile. Everyday clothing must be worn at the time of the picture being taken.
U.S. Passport Application Fees
The fee for a passport includes the application fee and the execution fee. Currently, the application fee for an adult passport is $110.00, and the execution fee is $35.00. Together, the total cost for an adult passport is $145.00. For a child, the application fee is $80.00, and the execution fee is $35.00. So, a child’s passport cost $115.00. There is no execution fee when renewing an adult passport, so the total cost is $110.00. To replace a lost or stolen adult or child passport, will cost the same as applying for the first time. Therefore, it will cost $145.00 for an adult passport and $115.00 for a child passport.
To use expedited processing will cost more. The total cost will now include the application fee, execution fee, and the expeditor fee. The post office charges $60.00 to expedite an application in 2-3 weeks. So, an adult passport will not cost $205.00, and a child passport is $175.00.
Private expeditors or a regional passport agency (can get a passport within 24 hours) fees will be more get a rush passport. The cost of the service varies because of how soon you need the passport. You must check with either to get a quote for the price of an adult or minor passport.
Submitting a Passport Application
There are numerous passport acceptance facilities in the United States. They are established in post offices, county clerk’s offices, county courthouses, and public libraries. At every location, some certified agents will accept, verify, collect fee, package, and forward the application to a processing center. A passport is not manufactured or distributed at any of these locations. After the process is done, the passport is mailed to the address written on the form.
At each site, the operating hours are different. Some require you get an appointment, so contact the place you plan to visit to make sure you abide by the policies and rules they have in place. Also, the majority of these facilities are not open on Federal Holidays.
For an adult applying, make sure the correct form is filled and not signed. It should be signed in front of the accepting agent. Have all the supporting documents that are required including the original and copies. Also, have the correct amount of money as a money order or check for the fee. The most facility will not take cash. The check or money order must be endorsed by The U.S. Department of State.
A child or minor passport application must be accompanied by all the supporting documents and the correct form(s). A minor passport is not renewable as an adult, so Form DS-11 should be completed when applying for a passport.
At the post offices, every applicant has the option to process the application in two ways. The first is standard or routine processing. This option is the most common most applicants process their applications. After the form, supporting documents and fee are accepted, they are packaged and sent to a processing facility. The verification of all the documents are done again, and if satisfied, a passport is made in the applicant’s name. Once completed and verified with the documents, the new passport is then mailed to the address on the form. The entire process takes about 4-6 weeks. On some rear occasions, it can delay up to 8-weeks before received.
The next processing option is expedited processing. It is reserved for individuals who are in need of a passport and cannot wait for 4-weeks. To be given the okay to use this choice, proof of international travel must be shown. Otherwise, you will be referred to use standard processing. In this case, the processing, including mailing, will take 2-3 weeks to get a new passport.
A private expeditor or a regional passport agency can get a passport in 24-hours. If you have an emergency that requires you to leave the country in a day or two, then you can employ one of these services. You can walk into a private expeditor’s office and present your documents, proof of international travel, and pay the fees to get your travel document.
A regional passport agency does not work the same way. You need an appointment before going to one. Also, there are only 26 regional passport agencies in the United States, so you may need to travel to another state to get a passport. To get an interview, call the National Passport Center, and the operator will set up an appointment at the nearest agency.
Once you follow and complete all the steps, you are on your way to getting your travel document. As discussed, the processing options will determine the cost of an adult or child passport. If you have the time to wait, then conventional processing is the right choice. Otherwise, if you are in a rush, then expedited processing will get you a passport in time for your travels. Regardless of your circumstance, get the document you need to take your trip abroad.